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Regional Pollution and Biodiversity Experts Help the UN Caribbean Environment Programme Develop its 2017-2018 Work Programme for Protecting the Caribbean Sea

I am now once again in “playing catch-up” mode, so forgive me. Several important meetings have been taking place recently related directly to environmental concerns in Jamaica and the Caribbean, and this is perhaps the most critical for our marine environment. Here is a press release regarding a series of meetings in Miami this week, hosted by the U.S. Government and convened by the United Nations Environment Programme – Caribbean Environment Programme (UN-CEP) headquartered in Kingston. As I have noted before, Jamaica is one of the few Caribbean countries that  has not ratified the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol, which it signed in 1990 and which entered into force in June, 2000 (the SPAW Protocol Secretariat is actually based in Kingston).

 United Nations Environment Programme - Caribbean Environment Programme)UN-CEP Secretariat’s Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri addresses a biodiversity issue at the 6th Meeting of the Scientific & Technical Advisory Committee in Colombia. (Photo: United Nations Environment Programme – Caribbean Environment Programme)

Here is UNEP’s press release with more details on the meetings:
October 27, 2016

Over 60 scientific and technical experts from the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR), representing Governments, Research Institutions, Intergovernmental and Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Private Sector, will meet in Miami, Florida from October 31st – November 4th to discuss current and emerging pollution and biodiversity issues impacting the Caribbean Sea.
A series of two meetings, hosted by the Government of the United States – the Third Meeting of the Scientific Committee to the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-based Sources (LBS) (31st October – 2nd November) and the Seventh Meeting of the Scientific Committee to the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) (2nd – 4th November) will be convened by UN Environment (UNEP’s) Caribbean Environmental Programme in its capacity as Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Caribbean Sea.
These technical advisory meetings are convened every two years by the Jamaica-based Secretariat to evaluate its work over the previous biennium, review achievements and challenges, and develop the Secretariat’s next Work Plan and Budget.
According to Dr. Lorna Inniss, Coordinator of the Caribbean Environment Programme, “the region’s continued economic development relies on the sustainable use and management of its vulnerable coastal and marine resources, which are the basis for tourism, fisheries and coastal protection.” According to Dr. Inniss, “while the region had made some progress in pollution prevention and biodiversity protection, much more needs to be done in the area of oceans governance if we are to fully benefit from emerging blue growth opportunities.”
Financial support for these meetings has been provided by the Government of the United States and the Global Environment Facility-funded Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems Project (“the UNDP/GEF CLME+ Project”, 2015-2020). The support from the UNDP/GEF CLME+ project in particular has enabled the CEP Secretariat, for the first time, to have pollution and biodiversity experts from the region meeting together to foster more integrated management approaches and management solutions to more complex environmental challenges.
Habitat degradation, pollution and unsustainable fisheries and fishing practices, exacerbated by climate change are the main challenges for coastal and marine resources managers and are at the core for sustainable livelihoods in the region. To address these issues, more integrated approaches have been articulated in the 10-year Strategic Action Programme (“the CLME+ SAP”, 2015-2025) and its vision of having “a healthy marine environment that provides benefits and livelihoods for the well-being of its people.” This SAP has been politically endorsed by 25 countries and is being directly supported by the work of UNEP-CEP along with several other regional partner agencies.
 United Nations Environment Programme - Caribbean Environment Programme)Pollution in mangroves in Honduras. (Photo: United Nations Environment Programme – Caribbean Environment Programme)
According to Mr. Christopher Corbin, Programme Officer with responsibility for the Pollution sub- programme of UNEP CEP, “the development of regional platforms for reducing pollution from solid waste and marine litter, nutrients from poor agricultural practices, and untreated wastewater has been one of the main achievements for the sub-programme.” While expressing disappointment that Jamaica was the only new country to ratify the Pollution (LBS) Protocol during the last biennium, bringing the total number of Contracting Parties to 12 out of a total of 28, several other countries have indicated a commitment to sign. The LBS Protocol calls on countries to reduce the negative environmental and human health impacts of land-based pollution including solid waste and sewage.
Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Programme Officer, Mrs. Alessandra Vanzella–Khouri, emphasized that “many of the pollutants from land and sea, as well as poor practices, are directly impacting on coastal and marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves. These sustain many of the countries’ economies by providing services for tourism, fisheries and coastal protection”. Poor land use practices, overfishing and destruction of marine habitats underscores the critical need for integrated ecosystem- based approaches. According to Mrs. Vanzella-Khouri, “such approaches are already showing direct benefits in countries like The Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Grenada and the USA, where management and conservation tools like Marine Protected Areas and networks are effectively being implemented.” Additional countries also need to join Cartagena’s biodiversity treaty (SPAW Protocol) to ensure that regional cooperation efforts for the sustainable management of marine resources are not undermined but rather integrated and enhanced.
 The 2017-2018 work plan and budget for CEP’s pollution and biodiversity sub-programmes is an ambitious one with a total budget of over US$18 million. According to Dr. Inniss, the Secretariat has already been successful in mobilizing over 60% of the resources required for implementation. With the additional demands being placed on Governments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular Goal 14 on Oceans, the Secretariat is well placed to expand on its technical and capacity building support to its Contracting Parties and Member States and to continue to foster regional collaboration for the betterment of all the peoples of the Wider Caribbean Region.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Caribbean Environment Programme.United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Caribbean Environment Programme.
UN Environment (UNEP) CaribbeanEnvironment Programme (CEP)
The UN Environment (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 and only regionally binding treaty of its kind in the Caribbean 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.Each Protocol is supported by a technical 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 (SPAW RAC for the SPAW Protocol); and in Cuba, (Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) and Trinidad & Tobago, (the Institute of Marine Affairs), both for the LBS Protocol.
    The Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU), established in 1986, serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and the Caribbean Environment Programmeand is based in Kingston, Jamaica.
    For more information: http://www.cep.unep.org
    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.
    For more information: http://www.clmeplus.org; http://www.undp.org; http://www.thegef.org
    Contact Information
    To find out more about the work of UNEP CAR-RCU, the Cartagena Convention and its Oil Spills, SPAW and LBS Protocols, please visit our website at http://www.cep.unep.org.
    We are also on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/UNEP-Caribbean-Environment-Programme, Twitter at: https://twitter.com/UNEP_CEP, and Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/user/CEPUNEP/featured
    For more information, please contact:
    Mr. Christopher Corbin
    Officer in Charge of Communications UNEP CAR/RCU
    14-20 Port Royal Street
    Kingston, JAMAICA
    Telephone: 1(876) 922-9267-9, Fax:1 (876)922-9292, Email: cjc@cep.unep.org
Delegates at the 2nd Scientific & Technical Committee for the LBS Protocol discussion the 2015/16 Work Plan in Managua, Nicaragua. (Photo: United Nations Environment Programme - Caribbean Environment Programme)Delegates at the 2nd Scientific & Technical Committee for the LBS Protocol discussion the 2015/16 Work Plan in Managua, Nicaragua. (Photo: United Nations Environment Programme – Caribbean Environment Programme)