NECKER ISLAND, British Virgin Islands, May 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a joint effort to safeguard and bolster the Caribbean region's tourism-dependent economy, fifteen Caribbean governments and seventeen corporations met on Necker Island, home of Sir Richard Branson, in the British Virgin Islands this weekend and committed approximately $64 million USD to preserve and protect the region's marine and coastal environment, and accelerate efforts to transition to renewable energy.
"Protecting and harnessing the natural world is the greatest opportunity of our lifetimes," said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group. "The energy challenge and marine conservation challenge in the Caribbean go hand-in-hand: we can't have a healthy economy without a healthy environment, nor a healthy environment without a healthy economy."
The event, launching the second phase of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI), was co-hosted by the Prime Minister of Grenada, Premier of the British Virgin Islands, and Sir Richard Branson. The event's sponsoring partner was Tiffany & Co. Foundation, and the event was organized by The Nature Conservancy, with support from Virgin Unite, and the Carbon War Room.
The high-level dialogue resulted in consensus on the urgent need to protect sharks and rays across the region aiming for a regionwide sanctuary within two years; increasing the number of marine protected areas and accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources over the next five years.
"Governments and their people, companies and their consumers, and local communities all must work together to protect this beautiful region," said Glenn Prickett, Chief External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy. "This event has demonstrated that no longer is protecting nature viewed as a luxury, it is critical to the success of the region's economy."
In addition to these commitments, Defend Paradise, a campaign designed to generate funding for marine conservation in the Caribbean and raise consumer awareness of the marine environment was launched.
SOURCE The Nature Conservancy