Easter Monday, April 22, is also Earth Day this year. Established in 1970, Earth Day now is an annual global event, a day that creates awareness and highlights the unprecedented global destruction and rapid reduction of plant and wildlife populations which are directly linked to causes driven by human activity: climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, trafficking and poaching, unsustainable agriculture, overfishing, pollution and pesticides. The impacts are far reaching.
And while we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, every day should be Earth Day. And indeed, the Earth Day Network works year-round to address climate change, to end plastic pollution, to protect endangered species, and to broaden and activate the environmental movement across the globe.
This year, Earth Day is focused on Protecting our Species.
All living things have an intrinsic value, and each plays a unique role in the complex web of life. We must work together to protect endangered and threatened species: Here in the Caribbean and Saint Lucia, these would be our coral reefs, turtles, whales, bees and also, our Saint Lucia whiptail lizard and certain endemic plant species.
The goals of the Protect our Species campaign are
*Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
*Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
*Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
*Encourage individual actions such as adopting a plant based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use
We often feel helpless as small island developing states, especially in regard to climate change, where our fate is not under our own control. But this should not stop us from speaking out and believing that we can make a difference.
Aside from the environmental imperatives, we here in the Caribbean also understand sustainability and sound business practices are intimately linked to species protection because it is largely our flora, fauna and coral reefs which make our islands so attractive to the global markets.
Together with our sister islands we should increase our conservation efforts because human activity is placing an unbearable burden on our natural resources and beautiful species, which is why collaborative human resolve and activity are needed to reverse the damage.
Tourism is the bread and butter sector of our region and the environment and the many species which inhabit it should be treated as assets whose return on investment is our continuing economic health.
These species and their habitats are not decorations of our destinations, they are the bedrock of our livelihoods and delicate treasures we are entrusted to guard and grow for future generations.
We encourage our SLHTA Members to play an active and engaged role in protecting our environment and adopting practices that help to preserve our ecosystems and reduce the pollution that contributes to environmental degradation and species extinction.
Easter reminds us that we have hope and a future. And when it comes to protecting Earth, our faith without works is dead. Indeed, our prayers must be accompanied by action.
Wishing you a Happy Easter and Happy Earth Day.
St.Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association