Bermuda takes the lead in marine conservation on its own terms

September 13, 2016


The Hon. N. Cole Simons, JP, MP, Bermuda’s Minister for the Environment, was invited by the Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to speak at their Congress entitled “Planet at the Crossroads” held in Hawaii last week.

The congress, held once every four years, was attended by 9500 people directly involved in conservation through multinational government, private and non-profit sectors.  The Union is comprised of a membership of 1300 organisations and 156,000 experts and acts as a unique global environmental parliament dedicated to the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.

At the congress, Bermuda was asked to play a leading role in developing a new series of international conservation guidelines for marine and terrestrial environments.  This invitation was formally delivered to Minister Simons by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“I believe that defining these conservation guidelines represents a unique opportunity to celebrate Bermuda’s present and historic conservation achievements.  The conservation discussion will take into account our healthy reefs, terrestrial parks and wreck dive sites, affording us future opportunities to generate funding for important science projects and the promotion of tourism,” Minister Simons said.

“Let me be clear: this exercise involves valuing other effective forms of conservation that we already have in practice and law – these may include our endemic species protections, some of our fisheries regulations, and our protected wreck sites, all of which protect nature but are not included in the definition of marine protected area or terrestrial national parks.  It is about valuing what is successful about Bermuda’s terrestrial and marine environment in ways that will stimulate public awareness on the island.”

The origin of this invitation to participate lies in the 2010 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.  This global treaty whose signatories agreed to a target* known as Aichi 11, famously set the world on course to protect 10 per cent of its coastal and marine areas by 2020.


Charles Clover, executive director of BLUE, Marva O’Brien, permanent Secretary at the environment department, Cole Simons, minister of the environment, Bermuda; Kathy McKinnon, chair, World Commission on Protected Areas; Dan Laffoley, Vice Chair – Marine, World Commission on Protected Areas. All at  World Conservation Congress, Hawaii.

The Minister expressed his gratitude to Professor Dan Laffoley of IUCN and Charles Clover of the Blue Marine Foundation for bringing this opportunity to his attention and working closely with him on this endeavour.

Minister Simons added, “The discussion about conservation measures will be new and internationally important. It puts Bermuda back in its rightful place as a leading player in the global conservation debate.  It enables Bermuda and her people to celebrate and reinforce the protections for nature she already has.”

Bermuda will be one of a handful of countries who will pilot the new international definitions of conservation measures.  The Convention on Biological Diversity has asked IUCN to flesh out the definition of such measures first sketched out in the Aichi 11 target back in 2010.

That part of the global treaty reads as follows:

By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape.

The IUCN provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.

Information on the September 1 – 10 IUCN World Conservation Congress can be found here:


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