The event was marked with an all day Health and Food Fair at the Provost Park, Morne Fortune in Saint Lucia which featured local entrepreneurs in the food and health sector, health checks, fitness sessions and traditional herbalists.
In an opening ceremony to mark the start of the day’s activities, OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules, speaking directly to students present, explained the importance of biodiversity and the need to value our diverse resources in the Caribbean.
“Everything in life is connected. Life is biodiversity. Even the grass and the soil beneath your feet here today are teeming with life.”
“We have taken our natural resources for granted and, in a world of increasing artificiality, they are becoming more and more valuable.”
“We need to go back to basics, go back to nature, and go back to biodiversity.”
Dr. Jules implored the students to visit the exhibitions on display to enrich their knowledge and spark their interest in the region’s flora and fauna.
Biodiversity includes all of the plants, animals and microorganisms around us, the places where they live, and the products which can be made from them. It supports clean water sources, supplies healthy soils for food production, provides medicines to prevent diseases and maintain good health, and forms the basis for livelihoods such as farming and fishing. Sustaining biodiversity is crucial for reducing hunger, poverty, illness and vulnerability.
Mrs. Silka Tobias, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Department of Sustainable Development, emphasised Saint Lucia’s commitment to protecting and preserving the island’s rich biodiversity.
“It was with recognition of our dependence on biodiversity and its interlinkages with productive sectors that Saint Lucia signed on to the Convention of Biological Diversity in 1993.”
“We recognise the importance of healthy ecosystems and the value of biodiversity and we understand that without biodiversity our tourism, agriculture and fisheries sectors could not be maintained.”
“International Day for Biological Diversity is our opportunity to reevaluate the abundance that nature provides and how it supplies our basic needs for food, good health and survival.”
The OECS Commission thanks partners Helen Television System (HTS), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC), the Castries City Council, the Saint Lucia National Trust, Massy Foods and FLOW Saint Lucia for their support in ensuring a successful event.
The Health and Food Fair sought to increase knowledge and awareness of the dependency of our food systems, nutrition, and health on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, as well as the contributions of our natural systems to human well-being.