Conservation Information Management in the Caribbean: Why Regional Integration Matters

30 June 2015

Within the Caribbean, sustainable development is a top priority for many countries, given their fragile economies and vulnerability to the changing global climate. However, to be effective in development planning and resource management, the region needs to have access to the best credible and reliable data and information.

Natural resource managers and policy-makers rely on these in order to respond to changes and to make well-informed decisions. However, the lack of sufficient robust data and the unsystematic manner in which data is shared across the Caribbean today has been a challenge. The regional integration of all available data is recognized as a valuable asset for the management of conservation information in the Caribbean, and BIOPAMA, together with other initiatives, are providing a significant contribution towards this end.

The BIOPAMA Programme is aiming to address these challenges in the area of biodiversity conservation and protected areas governance by working with the fifteen Caribbean member countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group through the establishment of the Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway (Caribbean Gateway).

The Caribbean Gateway will serve as a hub for facilitating and promoting viable decisions and policies by decision makers and resource managers for effective sustainable management of protected areas and biodiversity. The approach that is being taken involves the collaboration of regional institutions, such as the University of the West Indies, as well as other organizations and initiatives that share BIOPAMA’s commitment to natural resource management in the Caribbean. The ultimate goal of this is to create a dynamic system which allows these entities to contribute their knowledge and expertise to a process far exceeding their individual mandates.

This type of regional integration is recognized by other initiatives as being very valuable. Recently, The Nature Conservancy hosted a regional integration workshop focused on developing a shared vision for improving access to information for marine protected area management. This workshop saw the participation of not only BIOPAMA but also other initiatives working on similar themes across the region, such as the United Nations Environment Programme-Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the Waitt Institute, the Caribbean Marine Atlas 2 initiative and the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem + initiative. It was a unique opportunity for these representatives to lay the foundation for a more collaborative future aimed at improving access to the information to which MPA managers, decision makers and the general public are needing and requesting. This approach to regional integration of efforts is exactly what is needed in the Caribbean in order to generate significant progress and successfully implement projects.

The benefits of regional harmonization of efforts are numerous and the beneficiaries are countless. This process allows individuals to integrate their work and results while minimizing duplication of efforts. This is extremely important and relevant in the Caribbean region where in many cases more than one initiative is working on similar-related matters. BIOPAMA Caribbean promotes the networking and sharing of data and information on biodiversity and protected areas and strongly encourages its partners to continue working together for the growth and development of this sector within the region.

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