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Hear from participants at the 2013 Caribbean Summit.
Business and political leaders from around the world committed $64 million to conservation at the inaugural Caribbean Summit, May 17-18 in the British Virgin Islands.
The Nature Conservancy organized the event as a phase-two launch of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, the largest coordinated, multi-national conservation initiative in the region.
The summit brought together 15 fifteen Caribbean governments and seventeen corporations. Guests met on Necker Island, home of Sir Richard Branson, and made a series of bold commitments to preserve and protect the region’s marine and coastal environment, and accelerate efforts to transition to renewable energy.
“Protecting and harnessing the natural world is the greatest opportunity of our lifetimes,” said Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “The energy challenge and marine conservation challenge in the Caribbean go hand-in-hand: we can’t have a healthy economy without a healthy environment, nor a healthy environment without a healthy economy.”
The high-level dialogue resulted in consensus on the utmost importance of working together – as a region and across sectors – to tackle the pressing issues of marine and coastal conservation. The specific areas for further work include:
- The urgent need to create protection for sharks and rays across the whole Caribbean region with the aim of creating a region-wide sanctuary within two years.
- Establishing a clear regulatory framework that delivers a systemic and regional approach to conservation of the marine and coastal environment, including increasing considerably the number of marine protected areas.
- A dramatic acceleration in the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources over the next five years.
Commitments for conservation were also made by several companies and countries including The Bahamas, Jamaica and The British Virgin Islands. Download a complete list of commitments.
A Summit highlight was the announcement of Defend Paradise, a new campaign launched by The Nature Conservancy and partners. The consumer-based initiative is designed to generate funding and awareness for marine conservation in the Caribbean.
“The Caribbean is truly a paradise under threat, and today’s focus is a critical step toward a brighter future," said Glenn Prickett, Chief External Affairs Officer for the Conservancy. “This event has demonstrated that no longer is protecting nature viewed as a luxury, it is critical to the success of the region’s economy.”