Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham will officially launch by video-recorded message the Caribbean Challenge, an initiative as part of the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the Convention on Biological Diversity underway in Bonn, Germany.

Prime Minister Ingraham will launch the initiative on Tuesday, May 27 during a high-level event held by The Bahamas Government in conjunction with the Global Island Partnership Initiative.

Minister of Public Works and Transport the Hon. Earl Deveaux heads The Bahamas delegation to the Bonn Conference. He is accompanied by Philip Weech; Director of the BEST Commission, Deon Stewart and Stacy Lubin-Gray; BEST Commission environmental officers, Eric Carey; Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust and Eleanor Phillips; Director of The Nature Conservancy Northern Caribbean Programme.

The Caribbean Challenge is an initiative by governments in the region to secure funding for the protection of a minimum of 10 percent of their coastal and marine habitats by 2012.

The initiative is expected to provide in excess of $40 million in protected area trust funds for the protection of marine and coastal habitats. The Bahamas National Protected Area Trust Fund is expected to be established with an initial infusion of $12 million.

Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development.

The Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems, but people and the need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.