Linking Environmental Agreements to National Development Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00

Participants of DOE WorkshopOfficials of the Department of the Environment are participating in a workshop in attempt to establish the linkages between international environmental agreements and Belize’s national development agenda. The four agreements that are being focused on are the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider Caribbean (SPAW), the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention).

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a treaty for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity. Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider Caribbean (SPAW) provides guidelines for measures necessary to protect and preserve protected areas and wildlife in the Caribbean region. The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is to ensure that the international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The Ramsar Convention is a treaty in which countries committed to maintain the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance.

Thérèse Yarde from the CARICOM Secretariat is one of the presenters at the workshop. The CARICOM Secretariat is the Caribbean hub for the project for Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in African, Caribbean and Pacific (APC) Countries. The project is called the ACP MEAs project and is funded by the European Union. According to Yarde, Caribbean countries are strong supporters of MEAs; however, they face a number of challenges that hinders their ability to effectively implement policies featured in them. Those challenges include the lack of adequate human, technical and financial resources. Therefore, the ACP MEAs project helps countries of the region in technical assistance, training, policy support and advisory services.

Yarde said, “Too often we think of these international agreements as only environmental issues but they have economic impacts and are development issues.” She points to Belize’s fisheries laws saying, “In countries like Jamaica, Antigua and other countries, fishers are struggling with their fishery because they are not making the kind of money that they use to and are not catching the amount of fish that they use to. You don’t have that problem in Belize and fishers are coming here to learn what Belize is doing.” She says Belize is an example of how a strong commitment to conserve the marine biodiversity of a country impacts its economy. Yarde says she hopes that at the end of the workshop, participants will be able to make linkages with individuals from other departments and ministries to emphasize that these agreements are important to economic development, social development and human development and well being so that they can raise support for implementation into the national development agenda.