Wednesday, 11 June 2014

We’re all in this together

Coming at a very strategic point in the calendar, just on the tail-end of a week’s worth of activities celebrating World Environment Day, was Sunday’s observance of World Oceans Day. This year’s theme, ‘Together, we have the power to protect the oceans’, tied in nicely with the focus of the activities that took place last week, which focused on small island developing states (SIDS), climate change and, of course, putting a stop to rising sea levels.

It is rather unfortunate that even though SIDS’ contribution to global pollution is not as great as large, industrialised countries, they are the ones who face the greatest threat to their territorial integrity as sea levels rise. As is constantly emphasised, all countries have a stake in the protection of the earth, as the effects of climate change can wreak havoc across both continent and island, big or small. The more extreme hot and cold temperatures, as well as stronger storms and unusual weather patterns, have all been attributed to changing climate conditions.

However, SIDS appear to be bearing the brunt of these events. Their small size means that evacuation to safe ground may be reduced or even impossible as the increased severity of the natural disasters could mean the devastation of the entire country. Meanwhile, rebuilding efforts are equally challenging in these developing nations with their limited economic resources.

Therefore, it really is incumbent upon the people and governments of these SIDS to raise their voice – as urged by the theme for World Environment Day – and make sure that this issue not only remains a priority on the global agenda, but that larger countries are made to keep the commitments they have made with regard to reducing pollution levels and meeting other targets.

Beyond boundaries

Officials have cited a lack of collaboration between and within regions of the SIDS grouping and frankly, this is quite disappointing. How will they be able to get larger countries to take their cause on board when they themselves have not got their act fully together? Certainly, individual efforts are not to be scoffed at, but it’s better together.

At the recently held Lionfish Derby in Barbados, Acting Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Lorna Inniss, noted that efforts to keep down the numbers of this invasive species in Barbados’ waters are hampered by a lack of co-ordination at the regional level. Common sense, of course, since lionfish have no respect for maritime boundaries and will go wherever the tides and food supplies take them.

The definition of an island is well known – a piece of land surrounded by water. Therefore, nowhere should World Ocean’s Day hold greater import than in a country such as ours. When we consider the role that the ocean plays in so many aspects of island life – in tourism, fisheries, shipping, arts and craft and so on – there must be a sense of responsibility on the part of every Grenadian to show respect to this massive resource. When we consider the fact that oceans span 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface, there must be continued global co-operation for its protection.

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