World Bank supports marine conservation in Caribbean

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The World Bank has approved a massive grant to ensure the long term conservation of marine ecosystems in the Eastern Caribbean.

The grant – worth nearly $19 million – from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will ensure the conservation and sustainable management of Antigua, Barbuda, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The project includes collaboration between the participating countries and the protection of over 100,000 hectares of marine habitat. It is part of a larger initiative known as Caribbean Challenge which was launched in 2008 with the aim of legally protecting 20% of the shores by 2020.

The eastern Caribbean is one of the top five global biodiversity hotspots due to the marine and coastal ecosystems. Unfortunately they are also over-exploited and at threat from alien, invasive species, over-development, pollution and overfishing and even sand harvesting.

Francoise Clottes, the World Bank Director for the Caribbean, said: "The World Bank is committed to supporting the Caribbean countries in their conservation agenda, in understanding the impacts of climate change, and devising adaptation measures. This project will help OECS countries conserve globally significant biodiversity and critical habitats, while protecting the long-term economic well-being of the countries."

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