10 Mar 2017 - French Guiana is, for the first time, hosting a meeting of Contracting Parties to the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region from 15th-17th March 2017. This Convention is the only legally binding environmental treaty for protecting the Caribbean Sea. It is supported by two other regional agreements on marine biodiversity and land-based pollution.
Over 50 experts, representing governments, non-governmental organisations, donors and regional technical agencies, are expected to attend. Participants will review the activities of the Jamaica-based Cartagena Convention Secretariat and make decisions on priorities and future strategic directions.
Reducing Pollution of the Caribbean Sea
Pollution from land-based sources and activities continues to negatively impact human health, the environment and economic opportunities in the region. Many governments have taken positive steps to address marine pollution:
- The governments of Jamaica and Costa Rica ratified the pollution agreement or LBS Protocol of the Cartagena Convention in 2015 and 2016 respectively, bringing the total number of Contracting Parties to 13.
- The governments of Panama, Costa Rica, Saint Lucia, Grenada and France – all Contracting Parties to the LBS Protocol, made commitments under the #CleanSeas Campaign to eliminate marine litter.
- The governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, and Aruba committed to ban, reduce and/or restrict items such as single-use plastics, styrofoam and used tyres.
Despite these efforts, the Caribbean Sea continues to be polluted by run-off of agro-chemicals, solid waste and sewage. Ocean acidification and new contaminants such as hormones, microplastics, pharmaceuticals and sunscreen lotions will require urgent attention.
Protecting our Natural Assets
“Caribbean reefs will be lost within 20 years without protection.” Headlines such as this are unfortunately being featured with increased frequency. The marine biodiversity agreement or SPAW Protocol of the Cartagena Convention highlights the need to sustainably use marine resources on which Caribbean economies depend. Coral reefs, for example, are vital for coastal tourism and fisheries. The biodiversity Protocol assists regional governments to protect marine ecosystems and wildlife while ensuring sustainable economic development.