Statement by the Minister of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration
onourable Vincent Wheatley
on the international observance of World Environment Day
The Virgin Islands joins with many countries throughout the world in the observance of World Environment Day. Started in 1974, World Environment Day represents a call to action to conserve the natural, precious assets that comprise the animals, plants and other species which share this earth with humans. It promotes a strong sense of need for people to act as stewards of the environment in which they live so that it may sustain civilizations and our way of life. Therefore, the theme for this year’s observance is Biodiversity and its connections to humans. The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. In the Virgin Islands, our livelihoods and survival are integrally linked to biodiversity. Whether visitors come to our shores to enjoy our landscapes and seascapes, whether we enjoy locally caught fish or our shorelines are protected by networks of reefs and mangroves, we continue to rely on nature’s bounty.
On this day, therefore, I highlight the critical function that mangroves continue to serve to our well-being and urge everyone to do their utmost to protect and conserve these precious resources. The continued destruction of our mangroves serves to weaken our defensive mechanisms that aim to protect our shorelines and critical infrastructure. I encourage everyone to do our utmost to ensure that the remaining stands will be around for our children to enjoy whilst serving the critical roles that they play in our food security and shoreline stability to name a few. For too long, the burden of actively protecting the environment has fallen on a few and has not captured our sustained and collective attention. Communities and people must be more engaged in ensuring that our natural assets are better safeguarded.
The Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration continues to forge a partnership with various Non-Governmental Organisations, Community Based Organisations, the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and scientists aim to restore mangrove sites. Mangrove reforestation efforts are part of our response to the call to action. The Virgin Islands have been blessed with incredible natural beauty, which must be safeguarded. This World Environment Day serves to remind us that we must actively work to ensure the conservation and preservation of the environment.