UNESCO ‘Man and Biosphere’ Project Set For Cat Island

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by Kathryn Campbell – Bahamas Information Services

A Biosphere Reserve is underway in Cat Island. The Bahamas National Commission for UNESCO announced plans for the joint project
with Young Marine Explorers (YME) through a $26,000 award from UNESCO, Thursday, July 14, 2022 at the Ministry of Education and Technical & Vocational Training.

The Bahamas National Commission for UNESCO Secretary General Deidre Bevans said: “Our vision is that the entirety of Cat Island will become a Biosphere Reserve that will serve as a national model for sustainable development and inspire national action for developing climate-resilient islands throughout the country. ”Nikita Shiel-Rolle, founder and CEO of YME, said the nation is celebrating its “first
step, making our mark in history and establishing the first ‘Man and Biosphere Reserve’ in The Bahamas that will enable Bahamians from all walks of life to be active participants in the co-creation of a more prosperous future.

“In order for us to build resilient communities we need resilient beings and that requires learning islands, meeting communities exactly where they are with love and compassion, understanding that we have lots of wounds from our complex history and that’s okay and we get to heal together.

“That is what I see when I think about the Cat Island Man and Biosphere Reserve not only as a model for our island and islands all around the world, but also how do we ensure that those of us who are living on the front lines of climate change
we’re empowered, equipped, prepared and we can move whether it means bouncing between different islands, moving out into the ocean exploring our exclusive economic zone and beyond and having the skills to do that.”

The first phase of the project is from July to September 2022. According to Ms. Bevans, MAB supports the creation of biosphere reserves. She said the vision of YME in partnership with UNESCO to become the first biosphere reserve in The Bahamas is in keeping “with the vision for the new global framework for biodiversity which aims to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030, expand area-based conservation to reach at least 30% of the planet by 2030, and achieve recovery and ecosystem restoration by 2050.

“The intention is to cultivate a learning site for sustainable development that employs interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing the interactions between the social and ecological system in our island community.” The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education & Technical and Vocational Training; Her Excellency C.V. Hope Strachan, Ambassador and Permanent
Delegate to UNESCO; Deidre Bevans, newly appointed National Commission Secretary General; Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary; Dr. Marcellus Taylor, Director were present for the briefing.