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Preserving Biodiversity And Ecosystems In The Eastern Caribbean

Did you know that 60% of the population of the Caribbean live within 100km of the coastline with the higher percentages recorded in small islands in the Eastern Caribbean? 7% of the World’s Coral reef covers approximately 20 thousand miles, which are located around the eastern Caribbean islands and the central coast of America.

In the Eastern Caribbean, there are over 13 thousand plant species and 50% found on single islands are endemic. 600 Bird Species of which 160 species are endemic. 94% of the estimated 500 reptile species are classified as endemic and a growing number of fungi and other microorganisms are being discovered in the region. All these Plants and Animals provide food, medicine, allow people to make income, attract tourists, have historical and cultural significance to our islands and play an important part in our natural ecosystem. If these resources were to be lost, they would either be costly or impossible to restore.

The demand for goods and services related to ecosystems in the Eastern Caribbean is predicted to increase over the next two decades. The benefits and potential uses of ecosystems in the region must be recognised, promoted and sustainability man­aged for current and future generations.


The OECS, through the Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management Unit, is mobilising efforts towards the conversation of ecosystems and biodiversity in the Eastern Caribbean. Hence, the Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management Programme pursues the main objectives below:

  • To conserve or rehabilitate natural resources while meeting the socio-economic, political and cultural needs of current and future generations;
  • To ensure the implementation of regional and international agreements (i.e.: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the St. George’s Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability in the OECS; and
  • To support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 14 which is "to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources" and Goal 15 which is "to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss."


Over the years, multiple projects which aim to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity in the Eastern Caribbean region were implemented and/or are currently being implemented by the OECS Commission through its Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management Unit, along with Ministries of the OECS Member States and regional and international agencies including:

 1 - BioSPACE Project


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The Support Programme was developed to contribute to the sustainable development of ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal countries, while at the same time supporting efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The main expected results of the Programme are:
• Result 1 - Capacities of ACP regions and countries to effectively manage coastal and marine biodiversity and enhance resilience to climate change are strengthened;
• Result 2 - Regional, national and local efforts to assess, protect, manage and sustainably use marine and terrestrial biodiversity are supported;
• Result 3 - Partnerships for environmental sustainability are developed and strengthened

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 2 - Integrated Landscape Management (ILM)

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The “Integrated Landscape Approaches and Investments in Sustainable Land Management in the OECS” project, was funded under the European Union Global Public Goods and Challenges Programme to an amount of EUR 5 million. This EU Action For Sustainable Landscape Management is linked to the Global Climate Change Alliance+ (GCCA+) initiative and a direct follow-up to the OECS-GCCA Project on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in the Eastern Caribbean

The overall objective of the project is to optimize the contribution of land to agriculture, food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the preservation of ecosystems and the essential services they provide. 

It is expected that initiatives under this project will contribute to; climate-smart and sustainable agriculture farming system; enhancement of cross-sector approaches to land use planning and management; the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs); the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs); National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans; REDD+ strategies and plans to curb deforestation and forest degradation; and strengthening ecosystem management in general. 

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 3 - Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States

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The Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF-IWEco) Project is a multi-focal, regional project that builds upon the work of previous initiatives, to address water, land and biodiversity resource management as well as climate change in ten participating countries.

IWEco’s objective is to contribute to the preservation of Caribbean ecosystems that are of global significance and to the sustainability of livelihoods. This will be done through the application of existing proven technologies and approaches best suited for small island developing states. The project will improve the management of fresh and coastal water resources, land resources and forests.

IWEco is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the lead Implementing agency for national and regional sub-projects, with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implementing some activities.

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4 - Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management Framework

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Globally,  due to human activity, there has been a rapid decline of species and ecosystems due to human activity, given the crucial role of biodiversity and ecosystems in sustaining the OECS region’s economy and the livelihoods of its people. Protection of biodiversity and ecosystems has also been recognised as vital to building climate resilience in these islands.

To guide the management of the region’s biodiversity and ecosystems, the OECS established the Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management Committee (BEMC) to serve as a governance and coordination mechanism. This body was endorsed by the OECS Council of Ministers: Environmental Sustainability (COMES) in 2019.

One of the first activities of the BEMC through the OECS Commission’s Environmental Sustainability Cluster (OECS ESC) was the recruitment of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) to develop the OECS Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management Framework (OECS-BEF).

The purpose of the OECS-BEF is to address biodiversity and ecosystem issues that are best undertaken through a regional lens supporting common concerns, rather than those for which individual country-specific interventions are more effective.

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 5 - 2040 Projects And Strategies On The Preservation Of Ecosystems And Biodiversity In The Eastern Caribbean

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Many Years after Adopting the St. George's Declaration in 2001 it remains a relevant and regional instrument that bridges national and global policies. Continuing the Commitment to St. George’s Declaration the 2040 version responds to the rapidly evolving and global policy environment that relates to the priorities of Small Island Developing States. 

It focuses on the OECS Commission's vision to create a healthy and productive environment, supporting the well-being and aspirations of the Eastern Caribbean with the goal of promoting and supporting effective management and sustainable use of the natural capital of the Eastern Caribbean by enhancing its integrity and strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity. 

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The OECS has been partnering for multiple years with regional and international agencies who support projects implemented in order to ensure a sustainable management of ecosystems and the conservation of biodiversity in the Eastern Caribbean.  



Farzana Yusuf-Leon
Technical Specialist
Tel: +1 (758) 455-6331

Cornelius Isaac
Project Manager 
Tel: +1 (758) 455-6390

Norma Cherry-Fevrier
Project Manager
Tel: +1 (758) 455-6316

Rochelle Alcee
Administrative Assistant 
Tel: +1 (758) 455-6300

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