Implementation of the NBSAP
The NBSAP for Antigua and Barbuda was produced in 2001 after extensive consultations with stakeholders and agencies. The NBSAP process and actions received positive support from the NGO community however the NBSAP never received Cabinet approval. The document is considerably outdated and does not reflect the advances made by negotiations at the international level. As such, in early 2012, the country began the process to review and update the NBSAP. The four key aspects of the strategy address the obstacles to biodiversity planning, including at the institutional, scientific, legal and policy levels. The strategy, in combination with the draft environment management bill aim to improve and maintain the well-being of the people of Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the productivity and diversity of the country’s ecosystems, through the achievement of the overall goal to promote the conservation and sustainable utilization of the island’s terrestrial, marine and freshwater biodiversity.
Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets
Since the development of the NBSAP in 2001, significant effort has been taken towards implementing recommended actions. Areas that are yet to be adequately addressed are: research, and the development of market measures for protection. Additionally, though legislation exists and new legislations have been drafted for the declaration and management of protected areas, there are still legislative gaps to be filled in order to ensure the implementation of necessary actions to effect change in overall environmental management throughout the country. For example, protected areas were not given early attention however, since 2001, the Government has provided protection status to wetlands and coastal ecosystems, with 20% of watersheds and 30% of mangrove swamps and beaches currently under some level of protection. In this regard, the country is actually on target to meet the requirements of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. It is anticipated that, with the country being committed to having the environmental management bill enacted by July 2013, one of the most significant challenges to effective sustained protected areas management would be removed.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is now mandatory for certain projects and several new pieces of biodiversity-related legislation have been adopted. Government actions were encouraged as a result of an increase in biodiversity knowledge, including an awareness of the importance of biodiversity for health and economic development, on the part of the population. Though many 2010 targets (e.g. conservation of 10% of reefs for dive tourism only) were not accomplished, other activities related to other targets (e.g. development of legislation for the management of genetic material, the declaration of a number of sites as marine protected areas and the implementation of a new Fisheries Act and its supporting regulations) were either initiated or completed. To date, the country, through the assistance of a number of agencies, including the GEF, has begun to undertake an assessment aimed at ensuring the improvement of the status of threatened species. This process will also seek to alleviate the current problems experienced in the country due to a lack of available data. Success examples include the development of a Strategy for Agricultural Biodiversity Protection; 100% ban of threatened plant and animal species from commercial trade; stopping of sand mining from most beaches and the development of a sustainable island resource management and zoning plan. This zoning plan has been completed and accepted by Cabinet.
With regards to biodiversity and climate change, mitigation and adaptation measures have been integrated in project plans for the Northwest Coast Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation of the Body Pond Watershed. These projects are designed to reduce the incidence of flooding in coastal communities while rehabilitating wetlands that are important habitats for numerous birds and marine species. Within four months of the initiation of the McKinnon’s Pond Rehabilitation Project, thousands of birds returned to the area on the northwest coast to feed and nest. Additionally, the area has not recorded flooding in excess of the targeted six inches of rain in 24 hours; new areas of mangrove growth have been recorded and there have been less foul smells which signals the return of health to the sediment and water quality of the area.
Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)
In general, there has been significant improvement in implementation since 2001, but the lack of capacity and legal framework suitable for small island states remain severely limiting factors. The integration process was driven by several agencies with the lead agency being the Environment Division. The Environment Division is the focal point of most of the MEAs as well as the GEF focal point. Other agencies involved in the process included the Fisheries Division, Central Board of Health and Forestry Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This process was further supported by NGOs and an increasingly aware public. In 2004, the National Environmental Management Strategy (NEMS) was adopted as the main policy document for the implementation of all the Rio conventions, including the CBD and its NBSAP, as well as for the development of draft environmental legislation which places emphasis on protected areas and the establishment of a trust fund for the management of these areas. An important initiative is the development of a new national park (Mount Obama National Park) and the use of the renewable energy potential of the park to ensure its financial sustainability.
Further, a policy document and standards are to be completed in 2013, so that all biodiversity-based products are derived from sources that are sustainably managed, and production areas are managed consistent with the conservation of biodiversity. However, there has been very limited success in the provision of sustained institutional support to maintain the success achieved over the past ten years. These capacity building issues are seen as the limiting factor in the integration process and will therefore provide the focus of the biodiversity activities within the country for the next ten years.
Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation
Antigua and Barbuda did not establish specific national targets and a way to measure them until 2009. Baseline data was also not collected until 2009 and, since then, there has been no quantitative assessment of species or ecosystems status and the impacts of the actions taken. The assessment of implementation status was based on interviews with responsible agencies, as well as reports produced over the past ten years. In 2012, a review of potential targets based on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and specific measures to be used in monitoring them was completed. Work has also been initiated to complete the necessary quantitative assessments. It is anticipated that this information will help in the revision of the NBSAP as well as the upcoming fifth national report.