My fellow Barbadians, it is a privilege to be able to address you as Minister of Environment and National Beautification as Barbados joins with the global community to recognise International Mother Earth Day. Earth Day is heralded to be the largest civic observance in the world, and is marked as a day of action to change human behaviour as well as create national, regional and international policy changes.
The genesis of Earth Day dates back to the 1970s. Human observations and supporting scientific evidence raised the alarm and brought into sharp focus the increasing severity of the earth’s growing environmental crises. Incidences of deforestation, land degradation, pollution (land, water and air); illegal dumping, biodiversity loss, destruction of ecosystems, depletion of the ozone layer and climate change impacts were and, unfortunately, continue to be increasing at a startling rate.
The unfolding situation precipitated a movement that gave a voice to an emerging public consciousness which spread across the world about the state of our planet and the need to take swift and decisive action to protect it.
Over the years, our country has experienced a number of environmental problems for example: biodiversity loss and habitat fragmentation, more extreme weather events, subtle changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, coral bleaching events, increased incidences of illegal dumping, deforestation and land degradation.
Against this backdrop, I take this opportunity to recognise and salute our Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs), environmentalists, and environmentally-conscious citizens who have been voices for environmental change, championed environmental causes, and demonstrated environmental stewardship.
From undertaking national clean-up campaigns to community-based projects to every individual that practices the 4Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reclaim) or plants a single tree, your contributions have been invaluable in the effort to keep our nation ‘Clean and Green’ and by extension has supported my Ministry’s work at the national, regional and international levels.
The theme for Earth Day, “Restore Our Earth” focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. This theme is quite fitting as our Ministry strongly believes that recovery from the social and economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will require concerted and creative policy actions.
In this vein, the Ministry through its transformative National Clean and Green and Tree Planting Projects and the inter-related green projects and overall work of the Ministry’s Departments, Units, Agencies and Programmes will contribute to repairing the damage that has been done to our environment, achieving national environmental, social, health, cultural and economic goals; while maintaining compliance with our international obligations to global frameworks and efforts to protect the environment.
In the on-going circumstances, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused great uncertainty resulting in severe social and economic hardship for the people of Barbados. As the Government continues to do its best to adjust in all spheres, and to address the existing and emerging challenges, it is critical to galvanize the collective will and effort of all Barbadians, as well as effectively utilise the support provided by our regional and international partners towards taking decisive action, guided by science, for the benefit of our environment.
The Ministry will continue to foster new and strengthen existing partnerships with all stakeholders to ensure success and sustainability in meeting local needs, while making a positive contribution to global environmental efforts.
All human beings, industries and sectors rely on a healthy planet for survival. Therefore, we each have a responsibility to conserve our natural resources and protect our environment. Let us work together make Barbados Clean and Green, and by so doing contribute to the joint global effort to Restore Our Earth!
I thank you,
Minister of the Environment & National Beautification, Adrian Forde