Above: St Croix (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journals staff
The United States Virgin Islands has officially endorsed the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, Governor John de Jongh announced.
The CCI, which was launched in 2008 with support from the Nature Conservancy, aims to promote greater regional leadership in protecting the Caribbean’s coastlines and harbours.
The endorsement means the USVI has committed to conserving at least 20 percent of marine and coastal environments in national marine protected systems by 2020, according to a statement from de Jongh’s office.
The USVI will also be creating a conservation trust fund dedicated specifically to that purpose.
A number of Caribbean countries and territories have already signed on to the initiative, including Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
De Jongh announced the move in a letter to Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, who was the co-host of the Summit of Caribbean Political and Business Leaders last year.
“The USVI has made significant progress towards the conservation of our marine and coastal environment [since that summit],” de Jongh said. “We know that more effort is needed in this area and anticipate that participation in the CCI can assist the territory to overcome resource challenges to providing effective management of our coastal areas.”
The Governor said the USVI already meets the 20 percent requirement through existing federal and local parks, marine reserves and sanctuaries.
“The United States Virgin Islands welcomes the opportunity to collaborate on initiatives which will safeguard the Caribbean region’s marine and coastal environment for the betterment of all,” said Karl Knight, director of the Virgin Islands Energy Office, who will be the territory’s lead for the initiative.