January 18, 2011
On Wednesday, January 12, 2011, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) was abuzz with the excitement of the Award Ceremony for the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) Photographic Competition. Winners converged on NEPA's Cross Roads offices to collect an assortment of prizes, including cash awards. They were selected from a total of five categories, including 'Flora and Fauna', 'Biodiversity is Life', 'Conservation Activities', 'Landscape and Seascape' and 'Threats to Biodiversity'.
Michelle-Ann Gabbadon, Sixth Former at the Immaculate Conception High School in St. Andrew copped the top prize in the teenaged category for her entry entitled: 'Bald Pate'. Damion Levy of Campion College, also in St. Andrew, took second place. His entry 'Lizard on White' generated much attention from the audience and judges alike, as well as Dub Poet 'Ras Ja Ja', who reminded the audience that the common fear of lizards and other insects contributes to species extinction in Jamaica. Paul Haughton and David Kay took first and second place, respectively, in the adult category. Their entries 'Roaring River' and 'Dragon Fly', which were both entered under the theme 'Flora and Fauna', also received much acclaim.
Peter Knight, NEPA's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) congratulated the awardees and thanked them for participating in the competition. Dr. Elaine Fisher, Chairman of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Scientific Authority, Jamaica gave a brief outline of some local biodiversity issues.
Keynote Speaker Jerome Smith, of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)/ Focal Point Convention on Biological Diversity, said that Jamaica is committed to biodiversity issues and is working assiduously to slow biodiversity loss. He said that, for the period 2011-2020, which has been designated, the 'International Decade on Biodiversity' by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of Jamaica (GOJ), will continue the momentum in its focus on biodiversity.
Meanwhile, singer Amique of the group 'Voice for Climate Change' acapella song: 'Prayer' was deemed most appropriate for the occasion. Ainsley Henry, Acting Director, Applications Management Division at NEPA used part of its message to implore wider participation in addressing Jamaica's biodiversity challenges. 'Voices for Climate Change' is a group of Jamaican artistes who are working on the Climate Change Education Project to raise awareness about environmental issues across the island.
Last year, NEPA mounted several exhibitions, conducted presentations as well as participated in various media discussions as part of the year-long celebrations to mark 'International Year of Biodiversity' (IYOB), as named by UNEP. The focus of 2010 NEPA Calendar was biodiversity which was also one of the featured themes on its website. NEPA's flag-ship activity, a Roving Exhibition, comprising educational banners highlighting the wealth and beauty of Jamaica's biodiversity made several stops at libraries, hotels and town halls across the island.
This year has been declared the 'International Year of the Forest'.