Saint Lucia and other Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity will be observing the 26th Anniversary of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) throughout the month of May. The United Nations has proclaimed May 22nd as the International Day for Biological Diversity, to help increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity announced that this year’s theme (IDB 2019) would be “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”.
Saint Lucia’s focal point for the Convention on Biological Diversity is the Department of Sustainable Development (DSD) within the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development. Dr. Gale Rigobert, Minister responsible for this portfolio – an avid supporter of effective environmental management- noted the crucial role that plants, animals and micro-organisms play in providing sources of food and medicines for millions of people around the world. According to Minister Rigobert, “research has shown that without key pollinator species, such as bees and butterflies our food supplies would disappear in less than four years.” The Honorable Minister further encouraged all citizens to be part of the Biodiversity Day activities and make use of the opportunities to engage in transparent and productive discussions on biodiversity management and traditional knowledge in the country.
The activities for IDB 2019 kicked off with a community education and sensitization campaign to raise awareness of the preparation of the 6th National Report detailing the status of the country’s biodiversity and to highlight Saint Lucia’s progress towards meeting national conservation targets. Community meetings were held in Babonneau, Soufriere, Dennery and Vieux Fort from April 23rd to 25th, 2019.
The Department continued to collaborate with local and regional partners to raise awareness of IDB 2019, through a Biodiversity Lecture Series during the week of May 22nd and a Food and Health Fair in collaboration with the OECS Commission at Provost Park on the grounds of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College on Biodiversity Day, i.e. Wednesday May 22nd. The Department of Sustainable Development spearheaded social media contests to encourage participation and knowledge-sharing. Participants in the contests were eligible to win various prizes donated by corporate sponsors. Additionally, there was public outreach via live radio and television media talk shows to afford viewers and listeners island-wide, an opportunity to be further enlightened as to the current national efforts toward biodiversity conservation.