Good morning my dear friends and respected teachers. I hope all of you know today is World Environment Day. So, that our school has kept this program. Today I am going to deliver a short speech on World Environment Day. It gives me great pleasure to address you on this World Environment Day 2011. World Environment Day is commemorated worldwide each year under the direction of the United Nations to heighten public awareness of the environment.
In recent times, the need to promote more earth friendly practices in order to maintain the health of our planet has come to the forefront, as world nations struggle to reverse the present trend of climate change. The World Environment Day is a reminder to show our gratefulness to Mother Nature, which sustains all forms of life. This is the day to focus our thoughts and our energies to make collective efforts towards protecting the environment. This is an urgent appeal to each one of us to recognize the significance of “Elixir of Life” and the role each one of us can play to conserve it.
India has rich traditional knowledge and wisdom in the conservation of nature and natural resources. Religious beliefs, culture and folklore have together treated nature and environment with sanctity. Conservation and protection of environment and love for nature have always been part and parcel of Indian ethos and culture. Thank you all. Have a nice day. It gives me great pleasure to address you on this World Environment Day 2008. World Environment Day is commemorated worldwide each year under the direction of the United Nations to heighten public awareness of the environment.
The United Nations has chosen to focus its efforts on bringing increased awareness of the effects of global warming, with the theme; “Kick the Habit Towards a Low Carbon Economy”. In recent times, the need to promote more earth friendly practices in order to maintain the health of our planet has come to the forefront, as world nations struggle to reverse the present trend of climate change. In the Virgin Islands, World Environment Day also commemorates the beginning of Environment Month.
Spearheaded by the Conservation & Fisheries Department activities will be carried out throughout this month to foster an appreciation of the natural environment within our territory. The Department has chosen to celebrate environment month this year with the theme, “Protect the Environment, Safeguard our Future”. Activities have been geared towards encouraging practices that reduce carbon emissions. Research has found carbon emissions to be the major contributor to global warming.
The year 2008 has also been declared as the International Year of the Reef. Environment month and the remainder of this year will also bring awareness of the importance of our coral reefs. Coral reefs are also affected by climate change, and are already showing adverse reactions to increased water temperatures. In addition to activities organized by the Department, other organizations are encouraged to carry out activities this month to demonstrate their dedication to the preservation of the natural environment. The environment is shared by us all.
Despite our small size here in the Virgin Islands we must do our part both individually and collectively to ensure the sustainability of our planet. The Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour and the Conservation & Fisheries Department continue in their efforts to fulfil their mandate to manage the natural environment. Fortunately we have not had to go it alone. A number of other Government Ministries and Departments as well as private organizations and members of our community, continue to step forward to make their contribution towards the preservation of our natural environment.
Last year the summer programme planned and organized by the Conservation & Fisheries Department, BVI National Parks Trust and in recent years, the BVI Tourist Board was for the first time taken to the sister islands of Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke. The traditional programme was held only on Tortola. With the theme, “Connect with Nature … Explore the BVI! ” participants were exposed to a number of the BVI’s areas of natural and historical value. As always much hard work and dedication on the part of the employees of these Departments went into the planning and implementation of this programme.
However, this challenging undertaking would not have been successful without the cooperation and volunteer support of individuals in our sister island communities. Funding for materials and transportation costs were also defrayed in part through sponsorship from local businesses. The annual summer programme makes a lasting impression on the young minds of our territories youth as many of them are given the opportunity to explore and experience nature in ways that they are unaccustomed.
I understand that many of the youngsters in this programme demonstrated sound knowledge of the environment around them and understood the need to preserve and protect it. Some of this knowledge can be attributed to their parents and other elders in our communities. Our educational institutions also play a key role in sensitizing our territory’s youth to the importance of caring for the environment. Conservation & Fisheries Department regularly assists students in carrying out school projects assigned to them involving research into some areas of the natural environment or fisheries.
The Annual BVI National Science Fair organized by the Ministry of Education deserves special mention here. For many years, they have succeeded in their efforts to stimulate the minds of our young people towards using scientific applications to explore the natural world. Earlier this year, a Marine Awareness Guide for the British Virgin Islands was launched. Compiled and produced by the Conservation & Fisheries Department this colourful and well written guide is a compilation of information on all the major marine ecosystems in the Virgin Islands, and the relevant legislation that exists to protect them.
The magazine is filled with amazing colour photographs of marine life and associated activities, almost all of which were provided by members of the marine stakeholders group. This group, comprised of Government and non-Governmental organizations and members of the fishing and boating communities in the BVI met for the first time in 2007. They acted as a major partner in the production of the guide. The Moorings, the BVI’s oldest charter yacht company, and whose very existence depends heavily upon the integrity of the BVI’s marine environment, sponsored the initial 10,000 copies of this publication.
This magazine has been distributed to all schools in the BVI and serves as an invaluable educational tool. It has also been distributed to hotels, fishermen and dive tour operators so that visitors to our shores can also gain an appreciation of the sensitive nature of the marine environment that most visit to enjoy. Again we see in this instance the significance and immense value of community effort and involvement. Due to the somewhat complicated geography of our islands, comprehensive surveillance to ensure that the integrity of our island ecosystem is not unduly comprised is a challenge.
Many of the offences against the environment addressed by the Conservation & Fisheries Department are as a result of reports made by members of our community. Old and young, locals and visitors alike frequently call or write to express concern about issues surrounding degradation to the environment. This type of community involvement is highly valued and each and every report is noted and as far as humanly possible, investigated and acted upon. Community based organizations have also been making their contribution by frequently participating and organizing community clean ups.
Conservation & Fisheries Department organizes the Annual Coastal Cleanup when many schools and community groups participate to clean debris from our coastal areas. In commemoration of Earth Day 2008, the Solid Waste Department in conjunction with the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society carried out an island wide clean up on Jost Van Dyke. Similarly, persons from the Hodges Creek Marina also carried out a community clean up in Hodges Creek, and have dedicated themselves to carrying out a clean up on a quarterly basis.
Again, it goes without saying, that this type of community involvement is deeply appreciated and shows that our community is mindful of the need to keep our surroundings clean and free of litter. BVI Recycling, the BVI’s very own glass recycling company regularly collects glass bottles for recycling that would have been otherwise taken to the incinerator and never used again. The company has a number of receptacles around the territory, including one at Cedar International School. They have made recycling a practical component of everyday life at the school.
In yet another exciting collaboration, the Road Town City Manager, First Bank Virgin Islands, Bobby’s, Road Town Wholesale, One Mart and the Conservation & Fisheries Department have teamed up to provide and promote the use of re-useable bags. This is in an effort to combat the proliferation of plastic bags that we see too often littering our beautiful island landscape. Tomorrow the supermarkets named will be distributing reusable bags at their Road Town locations to its customers. Many prominent persons in our community have agreed to assist in promoting the use of these bags by serving as baggers at the supermarket ocations. Here again we see the community at work; hopefully the use of re-useable bags and other sustainable practices will become second nature in the territory. These are but a few of the ways you as Virgin Islanders have been making your contribution. Thank you for your efforts and continue to do your part, there is still much left to be done. Protection of our natural environment can become effortless once enshrined in each and every one of us. Thank you for listening and do enjoy the rest of your day, and I now declare the 2008 Environment Month officially opened.