Caribbean Summit of Political and Business Leaders, Caribbean Challenge Initiative, attended by Andy Thorne in the British Virgin IslandI was delighted to be asked to attend this Summit which was held last week in the BVI. The programme was hosted by the founder of the Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson at his Necker Island home, the Premier of the BVI Orlando Smith and the Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell. The very specific aim was to address the threats to the Caribbean region in terms of it’s coastal and eco systems and bring together political and business leaders to find solutions – fast.
This entire region is dependant on it’s marine resources, and in 2008 the Caribbean Challenge Initiative was launched by visionary leaders who recognised the need to save these precious resources and to create action to safeguard the future of this region. The Caribbean islands have ten percent of the world’s coral reefs and 1400 species of fish and marine mammals. One of the key sponsors Nature Conservancy, considers the Caribbean Challenge to be one of the world’s most ambitious conservation initiatives, the group has been providing technical expertise to the participating islands during the years from 2008.
Through joint governmental and business leadership the Initiative sets a new course for protecting and sustaining the marine and coastal environment of the Caribbean as a whole. The governments have been participating in this process – Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, The British Virgin Islands, The Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and St Vincent & The Grenadines. The first two commitments made were to conserve at least 20% of shore marine and coastal environments by 2020, with sustainable financial targets.
During the recent summit the vision of this Initiative was carried forward with enthusiasm, passion and a will to see action now. Government delegations and business leaders at the forefront of the Caribbean, such as resort companies, cruise lines, the World Bank, United Nations, environmental groups and private foundations were pulled together in order to pledge a framework for the approach to coastal conservation and created increased protected marine areas. The proof of the pudding, so to speak, was the signing of the pledge to prevent any further killing of sharks and manta rays in BVI waters within the next two years, and to format a sustainable plan to move from fossil fuels to alternative energy within five years, and the increasing of the number of marine protected areas.
I firmly believe that Kestrel plays an integral role in the future of the Caribbean through both our business links and our moral values. We will continue to be involved in this initiative and to play an active part both through our charity Kisses from Kestrel, and also through the continued growth and development of Kestrel Renewables – our renewable solar and wind solutions projects. More about this can be seen on the main Kestrel Renewables web www.kestrelrenewables.com or alternatively contact either my self or Andrew Hogan for further information.