Tuesday, January 31, 2023 — The Caribbean Region has lost a true stalwart and environmental sustainability champion, Yves Renard. Yves first came to public attention in the Eastern Caribbean in the early 1980s when he spearheaded the Eastern Caribbean Natural Area Management Programme (ECNAMP). Based in Saint Lucia, he worked with government agencies, community interests and resource users to promote the then-novel concepts of community-based management and co-management. The work in which he engaged, especially along the southeast of Saint Lucia, ranged from helping to introduce (the now well-established) seamoss cultivation to assisting charcoal producers to harvest wood from the mangrove forest in a sustainable manner. During that period, Yves interacted with a range of government, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and community interests drawn from, among others, the forestry and fisheries sectors. He was also involved in the World Heritage Site Inscription process for the Saint Lucia Pitons and provided advice to the OECS for a proposed World Heritage Sites and Conserved Areas Network.
Director General of the OECS Dr. Didacus Jules described Yves Renard as
"an environmental visionary and pioneer whose commitment to community and people was unmatched. Yves's genius lay in his use of science to create solutions that were sustainable yet provided economic value (e.g. growing of Leucaena plant for multiple communal uses - charcoal, animal fodder, skin products etc). His passion for people ensured that every initiative was about the cultivation of community. His resourcefulness planted the seed of many community and environmental initiatives that have blossomed - many years later - into lucrative sources of income for SIDS".
In 1989, ECNAMP transitioned to the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), a non-profit operating in both Saint Lucia and the U.S. Virgin Islands and with a focus on “research, policy influence, advocacy, and capacity building towards sustainable livelihoods and participatory decision making and management of the region’s natural resources.” Yves served as the organisation’s Executive Director from 1992-2001. Since its establishment, CANARI, now headquartered in Trinidad has extended its reach to cover the entire insular Caribbean.
In the early 1990s, Yves, through CANARI, played a critical role in the planning and the conduct of the stakeholders’ consultations in Soufrierè (Saint Lucia), aimed at managing resource use conflicts along the west coast of the island. This highly successful process eventually resulted in the establishment of the internationally recognised Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA).
In the field of natural resource management and conservation, Yves served the region in many capacities. Among these were his tenure as President of the Caribbean Conservation Association, from 1995 to 2000, and his tenure as the Caribbean representative on the IUCN Council from the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Following his leadership of CANARI, Yves worked as an independent consultant, undertaking several assignments for the OECS. He was active in several areas including, but certainly not limited to institutional development, social policy, land policy, and environmental literacy. In the lead-up to COP-21, for example, he worked with PANOS and others to get Caribbean journalists and musicians to Paris to ensure that the people of the region were kept abreast of the climate negotiations and that the region’s climate experience was effectively heard.
However, Yves did not confine his interests to consulting, research, policy, and conservation. He held a deep appreciation for the Arts and played a leading role in expanding the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival to the south of the island. He was well known for his wide-ranging community development endeavours in his adopted community of Laborie (Saint Lucia), including the establishment of a youth steelpan orchestra.
Yves Renard was truly a man of many talents, with a uniquely analytical thought process. Yet, he never displayed any air of arrogance and was always able to laugh at himself. Indeed, his easygoing nature made working with him easy and no doubt contributed to his ability to make such a huge impact. His passing on January 20, 2023, leaves a void in the hearts of many but his legacy will endure.