Authors: Joyelle Clarke*, St Mary's Biosphere Reserve, Kathleen Pessolano, GSTC
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Geography Education, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Biosphere Reserve, Sustainable Education, Participatory Learning, Sustainable Tourism
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Promoting sustainable tourism in the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve in St. Kitts under the “Man and the Biosphere Program” (the only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the English Speaking Caribbean) requires community engagement and tourism development following the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (“GSTC”) Criteria for Destinations. This UN-backed standard for sustainable development of tourism destinations includes community-based decision-making, buy-in, and education and awareness. Like the GSTC Criteria for Destinations, the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program is rooted in balancing community use of natural and cultural resources for livelihoods, and engaging community members in protecting resources for the future. Maximizing community benefits ownership of the “Reserve” require early intervention sustainability education and community tourism development consistent with the GSTC Criteria for Destinations. We posit that beyond the designation of Biosphere Reserve, education for sustainable development helps younger stakeholders in managing the transition from Parish to a Reserve with a sustainable tourism focus. Thirty-five Geography students at Cayon High School engaged in a 1-year program in sustainable education, focusing on experiential learning. Students were introduced to techniques for managing waste and raising sustainability consciousness based on principles of the MAB program. Results indicate, understanding of key sustainability practices and a strong desire to apply techniques. This presentation discusses program learnings in sustainability education, proposed additions to strengthen practical application of sustainable tourism and agro-tourism consistent with the GSTC Criteria, and the potential for participating students to catalyze long-term change in the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve.