Protecting the blue forests of the Caribbean

Richard Branson at a Virgin Unite event during New York Climate Week
Martin Romero
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 10 November 2022

The ocean and the beautiful Caribbean are two of my greatest passions and favourite places on Earth. I’ve been so lucky to call the Caribbean home for many years – a region defined more by sea than by land, with sparkling waters, mangroves, and incredible marine biodiversity. It provides food, livelihoods, and protection for local people, all while attracting visitors from around the world.

In this time of extreme pressure on the ocean, with global heating, plastic pollution, and overfishing, the ocean cannot be taken for granted. We need to be proactive to protect what we love. In recent years I’ve learnt more about mangrove forests. Sadly, many of us across the Caribbean have seen first-hand the damage done to these amazing coastal ecosystems, and as a result have learnt how important they are to coastal resilience.

A water forest of Mangroves
Image from The Nature Conservancy

Virgin Unite, The Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator (CCSA), and some of our incredible Caribbean-based partners, have been focusing on coastal projects, restoring and protecting mangroves in the BVI. And, in typical Virgin Unite style, collaboration is at the heart of this work.

The CCSA was incubated by Virgin Unite in 2018 as a standalone not-for-profit, committed to building more resilient countries, cities, and industries across the Caribbean, and creating the world’s first climate-smart zone. Led by Racquel Moses, CCSA is leading the way when it comes to accelerating climate action in the region. They are working to make the Caribbean’s climate collaboration a blueprint for the rest of the world.

Racquel Moses speaking at a Virgin Unite event during New York Climate Week in 2022
Martin Romero

I’ve heard Racquel speak at a series of recent events, in New York for Climate Week and at a Virgin Unite and Igniting Change gathering. She eloquently highlighted the importance of collaborating across boundaries and why focusing on engagement of government and the private sector is the way forward when she said:

This is the time to join us and create new, sustainable, mechanisms to protect the world’s magnificent mangroves. I’m seeing a great convergence of efforts by governments, in collaboration with the private sector, to create blue carbon exchanges and blue bonds (among other solutions) and we’re at the point of all hands-on deck and our time is now.

Racquel Moses speaking at a Virgin Unite Climate Week event in New York, 2022
Martin Romero

With COP27 here, and the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) not long after in Montreal, it’s vital that mangroves remain top-of mind, and that mangrove protection be championed.

Belize and Jamaica are two great examples. Belize recently changed its laws to ensure that mangrove forests, and the services they provide, have the legal protection they need. Jamaica’s Forestry Department recently announced its own National Mangrove Management Plan. Commitments like this are vital for the sustained protection of these precious carbon sinks, the biodiversity they bring, and the local livelihoods and flood risk reduction they enhance.

Racquel Moses speaking at a Virgin Unite Necker Island Gathering
Poppy Lynch

Special thanks also to Unite BVI and the Wellbeings Charity for the wonderful work they carry out across the BVI on mangrove conservation and ocean health. For those of you who share a passion for the ocean, are entrepreneurs with new ideas to help solve complex oceanic challenges, or just want to make the world a better place, I encourage you to support the work of the CCSA and learn more about how they’re helping innovative climate solutions get off the ground.

Join The Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator's Investor Forum from the United Nations climate change summit, COP27, on November 15, 2022 at 3pm EET here.