The Caribbean Summit of Political and Business Leaders to launch the second phase of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI)
May 17 – 18, 2013, British Virgin Islands
To accelerate marine conservation action in the Caribbean, a second phase of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) was launched at a Summit of Caribbean Political and Business Leaders
during May 17 - 18, 2013 in the British Virgin Islands. The Summit was co-hosted by Dr. The Right Hon. Keith C. Mitchell (Prime Minister of Grenada), Dr. the Hon D. Orlando Smith, OBE (Premier of the British Virgin Islands), and Sir Richard Branson (Founder of the Virgin Group). The event brought together, for the first time, government leaders from Caribbean countries and territories, business leaders of companies with operations in the region, and key partners (e.g. development partners, multilateral agencies, private foundations, and NGOs) to agree on a shared vision for the region’s marine and coastal environment, and to chart a course on how to achieve this vision.
The Summit helped to galvanize US $75 million in funding commitments to safeguard the marine and coastal environment, along with commitments to take new marine conservation actions and to put in place more sustainable business practices. Eight governments signed the Leaders Declaration and 15 companies signed the Corporate Compact, formally committing to work together to protect at least 20% of the marine and coastal environment of the Caribbean by 2020. The consensus reached during the Informal, High-level Leaders Dialogue at the outset of the meeting was summarized in a Summit Communiqué, which highlighted some new issues for further action, such as protection for sharks and rays across the Caribbean region, and alternative energy.
More specific Summit outcomes included:
- Leaders Declaration. Eight Caribbean governments signed a Leaders Declaration containing key commitments to marine and coastal conservation, including: “In each participating country and territory, to effectively conserve and manage at least 20% of the marine and coastal environment by 2020”. To help achieve this goal, governments agreed to have in place, by 2020, fully functioning sustainable finance mechanisms. In addition, a set of seven specific actions were agreed, covering a broad scope of issues related to the marine environment (e.g. marine protected areas, fisheries, tourism, climate change adaptation, and marine pollution).
- Corporate Compact. Fifteen companies signed a Corporate Compact and formally joined the CCI. The Compact contains key commitments to support marine and coastal conservation, including through changes in business practices.
- Summit Communiqué. The three Summit Co-hosts approved a Summit Communiqué summarizing discussions during the Informal High-level Leaders Dialogue, highlighting consensus on “the utmost importance of working together - as a region and across sectors - to tackle the pressing and interlinked issues of marine and coastal conservation, renewable energy and economic development.” The Communiqué also highlighted three specific areas for further work: (i) The urgent need to create protection for sharks and rays across the whole Caribbean region, with the aim of protecting within two years; (ii) 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; and (iii) A dramatic acceleration in transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources over the next five years.
- Conservation Commitments. Many of the speeches by Caribbean Governments and companies contained specific conservation commitments. These were broad-ranging, covering expansion of marine protected area (MPA) systems, designation of new MPAs, establishment of national trust funds, and changes in business practices. Some examples include:
- Bahamas has just approved the final draft of legislation to establish the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (BPAF) - a trust fund to provide reliable and long-term funding to support CCI.
- By 2020, the Jamaica Government will have 25% of its marine environment protected.
- Grupo Puntacana in the Dominican Republic, through its foundation, will host training workshops for coral restoration and other marine management themes.
- Sandals will continue to support the management of four fish sanctuaries in Jamaica, generate funds to support conservation in the Caribbean, provide financial support for sea turtle conservation in Antigua and Jamaica, provide financial support for The Bahamas National Trust, and continue to strive to reduce pollution from waste water and runoff from its operations.
- Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Unite committed to support the uptake of renewable energy in the region through the work of the Carbon War Room and to work with partners to help advance the region-wide shark and ray sanctuary. He also offered to convene additional CCI meetings to report on progress and determine additional actions.
- Funding commitments. A total of US $75 million of funding commitments were announced at the Summit or in the lead-up to the Summit. In addition to the funding that was announced, the Summit and its lead-up process helped lay the groundwork for further public and private funding commitments between now and 2020.
- Launch of “Defend Paradise” Campaign. The Nature Conservancy and GOOD Corps - together with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Ltd, KOR Water, and Guy Harvey Sportswear - launched “Defend Paradise.” The campaign is a consumer facing campaign designed to generate funding for marine conservation in the Caribbean and raise consumer awareness of the marine environment.
- Media coverage. Extensive media coverage was generated (nearly 500 media mentions covering 22 countries), including, for example: CNN, Bloomberg TV, Fox news, ABC News, Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, UK Sunday Times, and a number of national, territory, and regional media outlets within the Caribbean (e.g. Bahamas, BVI, Jamaica Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos).
- Other outcomes. Other outcomes include:
- Interest in potentially joining the CCI among a set of Caribbean governments that attended the Summit as observers, such as: Barbados, Belize, Haiti, Martinique, Turks & Caicos, and US Virgin Islands;
- An expansion of the programmatic scope of CCI - both declarations that were signed include actions not only on marine protected areas (MPAs), but also marine pollution, restoration, sustainable tourism, sustainable fisheries, and ecosystem-based adaptation;
- Partners are now more fully engaged in CCI - a broad set of partners (particularly public funding agencies, multilateral agencies, and private foundations) are now aware of CCI, with many prepared to support the initiative; and
- Strong participationof corporate sector providing a “critical mass” of business leaders to help champion and support CCI.