North-East Tobago has been awarded the prestigious UNESCO Man and the Biosphere designation.
The area is now the largest UNESCO site in the English-speaking Caribbean, spanning 15 communities from Belle Garden in the east towards Moriah in the northern part of the island.
The announcement was made at the 32nd Sitting of the Man and the Biosphere International Coordinating Committee on Wednesday.
According to UNESCO, “The Man and the Biosphere programme is an inter-governmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments.”
Secretary for the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment Secretary Kwesi Des Vignes said there were many opportunities to be derived and additionally, this was another milestone for Tobago and the nation on a whole
“T&T is a small nation with a fierce spirit. North-East Tobago has always been the pearl of our paradise. It is, therefore, no surprise that the area is worthy enough to attract the attention of the world,” Des Vignes said.
“This award presents immense opportunities for business, culture and the arts and education, but more importantly, it will allow us to benefit from approaches that can better conserve and sustain the environment and experiences we gain from interacting with it.”
Des Vignes said the award could not have come at a better time for Trinidad and Tobago due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the island’s tourism product.
“As the world grapples with COVID-19, this designation has placed us in an advantageous position as it relates to branding of our destination and attracting financial and technical support from the international community. We in Tobago in particular, are excited and proud of this accomplishment and the many gains that will follow.”
Meanwhile, THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis said the accomplishment was a proud moment for the entire country
“Our Man and Biosphere Certification is truly a proud moment not only for this island, but the entire country. North-East Tobago has now joined the UNESCO’s global network of biosphere reserves and is in the company of the likes of Mount Olympus in Greece and the Baa Atoll of the Maldives,” he said. Dennis said the accolade would further empower Tobago and all the residents of the island.
The programme will cover blue and green economic activities, including but not limited to tourism, fisheries, agriculture, cultural heritage activities, research and education. In the coming month, the Tobago House of Assembly will begin the process of formulating a management plan for the UNESCO site that will consider further meaningful engagement of communities and stakeholders.