Healthy ecosystems provide services that support livelihoods through income from agriculture, fisheries and tourism. Particularly small island states depend on healthy ecosystems, be it terrestrial, coastal or marine areas, as economic drivers. Yet, estuarine, coastal and marine environments (including coral reefs) are vulnerable to pollution and overuse. Pollution is often caused by influx from rivers that are transporting agricultural chemicals, solid waste or untreated wastewater towards the marine ecosystems. Coastal and marine ecosystems hence directly benefit from healthy terrestrial ecosystems and rivers.
Solutions to water pollution are found in coordinating the use and management of land and water from the hinterland to the sea: Ridge to Reef. By linking action and implementation in river basins and coastal areas, the aim is to support ecosystem services and improve riparian and coastal livelihoods.
This aqua-terrestrial management approach, from which the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) programme derives its name, addresses both ecological and socio-economic fields of action in a space-spanning way and thus helps both the environment and the people living in and from it. To achieve holistic outcomes with the implemented measures, the CATS programme adjusts its activities along a set of systemic elements.
- Incorporation of climate proofing
- Implementation of measures for protection of coral reefs, terrestrial and marine biodiversity in protected and focus areas
- Population sensitisation and capacity building in conservation of natural resources, value chains and sustainable development
- Support of complementary R2R measures in the catchment area implemented by Protected Area Administration and other actors
- Participation of the private sector
- Fostering of beneficial interaction (direct or indirect) between the terrestrial, fresh water and marine ecosystems, and reduction of negative influence of practices in the hinterland on water courses and marine ecosystems
- Cooperation and exploitation of synergies with national and regional actors, sectors and interventions
- Consideration of gender and age sensitivity
- Enhancement of partner capacity to access financing
- Inclusion of the tourism sector