2 September 2015. Panama City. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and The University of the West Indies (UWI) are pleased to announce that “The Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway (Caribbean Gateway)” was officially launched on September 2, 2015, during the IUCN Regional Conservation Forum in Panama City, Panama. The Caribbean Gateway, that serves to integrate a diverse range of relevant protected areas and biodiversity data and information across the region, is a joint undertaking between the European Union- funded Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme in the Caribbean and UWI’s Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), an IUCN Member, at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.
Dr. Patrick McConney, Senior Lecturer at CERMES and the focal point for the Caribbean Gateway at the centre, who attended the launch had this to say: “The launch of the Caribbean Gateway was a critical moment for the UWI in terms of our role in regional networking and sustainable development as it concerns linking data to better decision-making.
“There is clearly considerable demand for the products that the Gateway can provide. However, thequality and quantity depends largely on the engagement and contribution of stakeholders, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries and users. In an era of declining public sector funding for universities regionally and across the world, the essential need to sustainably engage governments, donors, and other stakeholders will be receiving the urgent attention of the UWI over the next few months.”
The BIOPAMA programme focuses on biodiversity conservation and protected areas management through capacity building for regional and national institutions and also improving access to and availability of relevant data. IUCN is implementing the BIOPAMA programme in collaboration with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC).
The Caribbean Gateway will be an important virtual resource for facilitating and promoting viable decisions and policies by decision makers and resource managers for more effective and sustainable management of protected areas and biodiversity.
It will be one of four inter-linked, regionally centred, Observatories for Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that will host an online data and information platform – Regional Reference Information System (RRIS). The RRIS for the Caribbean region will provide free and open access to data and information on protected areas and livelihoods, including the ecological characteristics of listed protected areas, and management effectiveness and governance of these protected areas.
The launch of the Caribbean Gateway took place during a technical session hosted by the BIOPAMA Caribbean team during the IUCN Regional Conservation Forum, at the Tryp Panama Hotel in Panama City on 2 September 2015.
The launch event highlighted the main goals and objectives of the BIOPAMA programme and introduced the Caribbean Gateway. Regional stakeholders present were given the opportunity to interact with the Caribbean RRIS platform, ask questions and provide their feedback for the continued development of the Caribbean Gateway.