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Centre for Biosecurity Studies

Director's Message

Optimized-Optimized-Director-s_Professional_Photov2-(1).jpgBiosecurity is emerging as one of the most if not the most critical area of support for sustainable development across the globe. The variety of biosecurity threats continues to increase and the potential impact of these threats continues to grow at an alarming rate.

Biosecurity is meant to address systematic vulnerabilities to biological ecosystems in an effort to preserve lives and livelihoods. It is very necessary to reduce exposures and risks that can cause harm e.g. in a home you have windows and doors as part of the security system to keep out unwanted elements from your home. Thus, windows and doors form a type of border security excluding unwanted pests and associated pathogens (eg. rodents, cockroaches, centipedes, slugs, mosquitoes, etc.), thereby reducing contact with persons who reside in the home. As such, we can observe biosecurity in practice every day, even at a very basic level. 

At present, the Centre for Biosecurity Studies (CBS) of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus is the sole entity at the UWI, and within the entire Caribbean, explicitly devoted to biosecurity. At CBS, biosecurity is defined as the science and practice of safeguarding lives and livelihoods which yields a unique perspective on its importance to national and regional sustainable development efforts. The mission of CBS is to support national and regional efforts to 1) assess, 2) prevent, 3) mitigate - and when these all are not possible to 4) respond to any threat that could potentially destabilize Caribbean societies.

CBS aims to represent a unique and comprehensive resource base and academic repository of expertise, against major inherent biosecurity threats in the Caribbean. How exactly do we intend to achieve this? Through the facilitation of a cross-disciplinary approach that reaches across the disciplinary divide, and cuts through the siloed processes and thinking at various levels including institutionally, nationally and regionally. Thus, biosecurity is a multidisciplinary field of study that promotes amalgamated thinking and reasoning to posit stronger, more effective and comprehensive solutions to the inherent threats to Caribbean development and societies. The Caribbean is comprised of several Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and as a result, is vulnerable to a unique set of biosecurity threats including - climate change and its impacts, severe weather storms, tsunamis, rising sea levels, earthquakes, flooding, food insecurity, human trafficking, cybercrime, money laundering, maritime praedial larceny/theft, high unemployment rates, high dependency on tourism, fossil fuel dependency, inadequate waste management, poor sanitation and water scarcity.

We thus seek firstly to raise the visibility of the Centre for Biosecurity Studies at UWI and in the Caribbean; secondly to raise the level of awareness of the discipline of biosecurity among the broader national and regional communities through wide ranging engagement from the average individual all the way to the expert practitioner. Thirdly, to embark on education and training programmes in the form of professional short courses and in the future Masters of Science in Biosecurity Studies to formalize, develop and reinforce the national and regional expertise. Fourthly, we seek to engage in very impactful research and foster strong stakeholder collaborations, to target the root causes of these biosecurity threats and fashion comprehensive solutions to safeguard lives and livelihoods. Finally, we endeavor utilise the information gathered through our research and collaborations, to shape and influence policy to manifest real and highly impactful change in every Caribbean territory.

Yearly, the variety of bio-threats change and intensify, yet this region can remain steadfast - because together, we can make the Caribbean more resilient to the constant barrage of bio-threats, thereby safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of all inhabitants of this truly remarkable region.
Dr. Kirk Douglas, MPhil (UWI), MBA (UOW), PhD (UWI)