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Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, says Jamaica is committed to achieving environmental sustainability, the seventh United Nations’ (UN) Millennium Development Goal (MDG), despite encountering challenges in some areas.
The United Nations has proclaimed 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity and the Minister was speaking at the launch of its observance in Jamaica, on Wednesday (May 12), at the office of the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in Kingston.
In 2000, world leaders agreed on the UN Millennium Declaration, signaling a growing recognition that, for the United Nations to be able to fulfill its objectives in maintaining peace and security and protecting human rights, poverty and inequality needed to be eradicated. The core achievement of the Millennium Declaration was its formal articulation of the MDGs, eight time-bound objectives ranging from halving world poverty to cutting child mortality.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange (right) and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry, Senator Warren Newby (centre), listen as Secretary General of the Jamaica National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Everton Hannam (left), addresses the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity and Youth Biodiversity Programme. The launch was held on May 12 at the Commission’s head offices in Kingston.

Goal seven of the MDGs aims to ensure environmental sustainability, and highlights the importance of biodiversity in achieving sustainable development from a national and global standpoint.
Miss Grange said that Jamaica has had mixed reviews on its progress towards achieving Goal seven.
She stated that the country was on target with regards to having safe drinking water and sanitation, with 92 per cent of Jamaicans having access to safe drinking water and, despite the challenges to solid waste management and hygiene, 98.9 per cent of Jamaicans have access to basic sanitation.
However, she admitted that the country was lagging behind in key targets to ensure environmental sustainability, such as integrating the principles of sustainable development in policies and programmes and reversing the loss of environmental resources.
“Reversing biodiversity loss has proven to be challenging in the short term for Jamaica, as a small island. It has traditionally depended on its rich environmental resources for the development of two of its main foreign exchange earners, tourism and bauxite,” she explained.
She said the launch and the activities which are to follow, is evidence of Jamaica’s commitment to redouble efforts to make up for lost ground.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry and Chairman of the UNESCO Youth Committee, Senator Warren Newby, said that the Ministry would undertake five projects to increase awareness of environment and biodiversity issues. The areas identified for attention are the Hope River Watershed and the Duhaney River in St. Andrew, the Negril Morass in Westmoreland, Fern Gully in St. Ann and Holland Bamboo in St. Elizabeth.
These projects are to be executed by the network of youth clubs, between May, 2010 and April, 2011.
Senator Newby said that they will have three components: a volunteer day, to unite citizens in the process of restoration of the five areas; a public awareness and sensitisation campaign; and an ongoing clean-up, or planting campaign by the youth, community and other interest groups.