Joint Meeting of Pollution and Biodiversity Experts from Latin America and the Caribbean highlight importance of protecting the region’s coastal and marine resources
- Governments encouraged to intensify efforts to prevent pollution & reduce marine biodiversity loss in the Wider Caribbean Region.
- Marine Litter, Sewage and Agrochemical run-off identified as the major pollutants impacting human health and the environment
- Countries to submit proposals of marine protected areas and species for inclusion in future marine conservation efforts
Experts representing the Pollution and Marine Biodiversity sub-programmes of the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention encouraged Regional Governments to prevent pollution & reduce marine biodiversity loss.The most recent United Nations Report notes previous research that places the cost of pollution caused by marine debris at US$13 billion. Pollution of the Caribbean Seafrom land-based sources and activities is negatively impacting human health and job security by poisoning and killing fish; damaging mangroves and coral reefs. This ultimately affects the development of the Wider Caribbean Region which is heavily dependent on tourism.
Over 60 scientific and technical experts from the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) met in Miami, Florida at the Third Meeting of the Scientific Committee to the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-based Sources (LBS STAC3, 31st October - 2nd November) and the Seventh Meeting of the Scientific Committee to the Protocol concerning Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW STAC7, 2nd – 4th November). The meetings were convened by the UN Environment Caribbean Environmental Programme (CEP) as Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Caribbean Sea.
They were both hosted by the Government of the United States of America and received financial support from the Global Environment Facility funded projects, ‘Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems Project (“the UNDP/GEF CLME+ Project”, 2015-2020) and the Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (CReW)’.
“The opportunity to have both pollution and biodiversity experts share their experiences in the first joint technical meeting of their respective protocols will assist countries in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to Oceans in a more integrated manner” said Dr. Lorna Inniss, Coordinator of the Caribbean Environment Programme based in Jamaica. She expressed gratitude to all the Governments of the Wider Caribbean Region for their financial contributions to the work of the Secretariat. A total of US$1,053,574.00 was paid to the Caribbean Trust Fund representing 30% of the total contributions from 33 countries and territories at the end of 2015. The financial contributions are critical for the Secretariat to continue to provide countries with financial and technical support for protecting the Caribbean Sea and its resources.
The meeting identified marine litter, sewage and agricultural run-off including pesticides and fertilizers as three of the major pollutants negatively impacting human health and the environment. The need for further research on microplastics and their impacts on human health and the environment was particularly highlighted. Mr. Christopher Corbin, Programme Officer with responsibility for the Pollution sub-programme of UNEP CEP said that,“The recent ratification of the Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution Protocol by the Government of Jamaica in 2015 reflected the continued political commitment to control, reduce and prevent marine pollution by countries.” However, given that only 12 out of 28 countries have ratified to date, experts recommended that Regional Governments should make ratification a high priority to enhance regional cooperation efforts for addressing pollution.
Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Programme Officer, Mrs. Alessandra Vanzella–Khouri encouraged countries to submit proposals for any new marine protected areas and species that should be conserved. Regional experts recommended that certain species of sharks, rays and the Nassau grouper in particular be conserved. Another key recommendation was the need to mainstream biodiversity and pollution within existing Government policies, programmes and plans.
The meeting recommendations will be presented to the next Conference of Parties to the Cartagena Convention and the Pollution and Biodiversity Protocols scheduled to take place in March 2017 for approval. These meetings are also expected to approve the draft 2017-2018 work plan and budget for the Cartagena Convention Secretariat and set the strategic direction and priorities for the next two years.