Saving our Caribbean Sea: Pollution Experts Commit to Support the Development of the First State of Marine Environment Report

There is a great deal of focus on our  ≈ oceans these days – as well there should be. Here are some of the current projects under way in the Caribbean: The U.S. State Department is currently hosting the Our Ocean Conference in Washington, DC. Last month, I attended the Kingston launch of the Trash Free Waters in the Caribbean initiative, a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the offices of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). ≈ In my last post I described the World Bank’s Blue Economy project in the Caribbean.  One must also mention the International Coastal Cleanup Day this Saturday, September 17 at locations in every parish of Jamaica, coordinated by the Jamaica Environment Trust and with many partners, including NEPA.

Now UNEP-CEP is discussing the need for updated information on pollution in the Wider Caribbean Region, as it prepares its first State of Marine Environment Report for the Caribbean Sea with regional experts. Please see UNEP’s press release, below. I know, there are a lot of acronyms, but understand this is all part of the process of understanding what is really happening to the sea that surrounds us, so that we can take the most meaningful actions to preserve our marine ecosystems and our own health and livelihoods.

I look forward to hearing more about activities related to all these projects. Let every citizen play his/her part! It’s our Caribbean Sea.

Participants at the Regional Technical Workshop held in Kingston, Jamaica (August 15 - 17). (Photo: UNEP-CEP)
Participants at the Regional Technical Workshop held in Kingston, Jamaica (August 15 – 17). (Photo: UNEP-CEP)

Kingston, Jamaica- September 15, 2016

Caribbean Pollution Experts commit to support the development of the First State of Marine Environment Report

At a recent regional workshop convened by the UN Environment – Caribbean Environment Programme, (UNEP CEP) in Jamaica (August 15-17), over 30 national and regional experts committed their support to the continued development of the region’s first State of Marine Environment Report for the Caribbean Sea.

The development of the report will be financed by two regional projects funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) – the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems Project (“UNDP/GEF CLME+”) and the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF IWEco). The contributions from these two projects are expected to be in excess of USD 100,000.

Addressing the experts during the workshop, Mr. Christopher Corbin, UNEP-CEP’s Programme Officer with responsibility for its pollution sub-programme, explained that many countries in the Wider Caribbean Region have “limited data on the levels of pollution of their marine environments and that this was being compounded by inadequate national monitoring capacity.’’

Mr. Corbin further highlighted that the lack of pollution data hindered the ability of Governments to identify “pollution hot spots” and focus their Interventions in areas with the highest environmental and human health risks. According to recent UNEP reports, pollution continues to be one of the most significant threats to coastal and marine ecosystems and to public health in the Wider Caribbean Region.

This assessment report is expected to support harmonized regional approaches for managing transboundary pollution and to protect fragile coastal and marine resources. The main challenges identified for developing the report included:

(1) Selecting the most appropriate and cost-effective methodology; (2) Ensuring quality of data; and (3) Gaining access to existing pollution-related information.

Improving knowledge about the state of the marine environment, including identifying the major sources and impacts of pollution, is one of the objectives of the Land Based Sources and Activities (LBS) Protocol. The LBS Protocol, which was adopted in 1999 and became law in 2010, requires countries in the Wider Caribbean Region to “take all measures to prevent reduce and control pollution” of the Caribbean Sea.

The development of the region’s first State of Marine Environment Report is just one of many ongoing activities by UNEP-CEP and partners to provide capacity-building support that will enable regional Governments to better assess the quantities, types, sources and impacts of land-based sources of marine pollution.

The first draft of the report is expected to be presented at the 3rd Conference of Parties to the LBS Protocol, to be held in early 2017.

UNEP-CEP's Christopher Corbin explains the Articles of the Land-Based Sources and Activities Protocol of the Cartagena Convention at the Technical Workshop in Kingston. (Photo: UNEP-CEP)
UNEP-CEP’s Christopher Corbin explains the Articles of the Land-Based Sources and Activities Protocol of the Cartagena Convention at the Technical Workshop in Kingston. (Photo: UNEP-CEP)

About UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 1981 under the framework of its Regional Seas Programme. It was developed taking into consideration the importance and value of the Wider Caribbean Region’s fragile and vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems, including an abundance of mainly endemic flora and fauna. A Caribbean Action Plan was adopted by the Countries of the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) and that led to the development and adoption of the Cartagena Convention on 24 March 1983. This Convention is the first regionally binding treaty of its kind that seeks to protect and develop the marine environment of the WCR. Since its entry into force on 11 October 1986, 25 of the 28 Wider Caribbean Region countries have become Contracting Parties.The Convention is supported by three Protocols:

  •   Protocol concerning Cooperation in combating Oil Spills, which entered into force on October 11, 1986;
  •   Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), which entered into force on June 18, 2000;
  •   Protocol concerning Pollution from Land-based sources and activities (LBS), which entered into force on August 13, 2010.In addition, each Protocol is served by a Regional Activity Centre (RAC). These centres are based in Curacao (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC) for the Oil Spills Protocol; in Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW RAC) for the SPAW Protocol; and in Cuba, Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays and in Trinidad & Tobago, the Institute of Marine Affairs, both for the LBS Protocol. As they endeavour to protect the Caribbean Sea and sustain our future, we look forward to their continued effort to preserve our Caribbean Sea by facilitating the implementation of the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols in the Wider Caribbean Region. The Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU), established in 1986, serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

    CLME+ Project

    The UNDP/GEF CLME+ Project is a 5-year project (2015-2020) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and co-financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The CLME+ Project is executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), in close collaboration with a large number of global, regional and national-level partners. The regional Project Coordination Unit is located within the IOCARIBE Offices of the IOC of UNESCO, in Cartagena, Colombia.

    IWECo Project

    The GEF IWEco Project is a 5-year project (2015-2020) co-implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and co-financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The IWEco project is co- executed by the UN Environment Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The regional Project Coordinating Unit will be located within UNEP CEP’s offices in Kingston, Jamaica.

    To find out more about the UNEP CAR-RCU, the Cartagena Convention and its Oil Spills, SPAW and LBS Protocols, please visit the website at http://www.cep.unep.org. You may also contact Mr. Christopher Corbin, Programme Officer for AMEP/CETA sub-programmes, at UNEP CEP by telephone: 1(876) 922-9267-9; Fax:1 (876)922-9292; Email: cjc@cep.unep.org.  UNEP is also on Facebook (UNEP – Caribbean Environment Programme); on Twitter @UNEP_CEP and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/CEPUNEP/featured


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