UNEP CEP partnered with Environment Ministry to celebrate World Water Day

UNEP CEP Partnered with Environment Ministry in Jamaica to celebrate three environmental days under the theme - “Partnering for Sustainable Development”

The United Nations Environment Programme Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) partnered with the Jamaican Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change in raising awareness as they commemorated the International Day of Forests, World Water Day and World Meteorological Day from March 21-23, 2014.

The Ministry opened its three day commemoration with a one day exposition on the lawns of Devon House on Friday, March 21, 2014, celebrated as International Day of Forests. As part of this and other activities including a Mountain Walk on March 22, UNEP- CEP participated in the expo with its own educational campaign to raise awareness on the importance of environmental protection with a focus on integrated water resources management (IWRM) including management of wastewater.

Declining water quality and quantity results in water stress, which arises when the volume of water cannot meet the demands of the population and/or its quality, limits its use. Pollution of water bodies, irregular rainfall patterns, and longer periods of drought, salt water intrusion and the overharvesting of aquifers all contribute to water stress.

Improving the management of wastewater in particular offers opportunities not only to safeguard water quality but also to use wastewater as a resource. In that regard, UNEP-CEP through its partnership with the Global Environment Facility’s project on wastewater- the Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (GEF CReW) highlighted wastewater as part of the commemoration of World Water Day, which was celebrated this year on March 22.

Countries of the Wider Caribbean Region, like Barbados, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are among the countries which will likely experience water stress in 2025. The 2009 Caribsave report declared that Jamaica is no different, with 84% of its exploitable water coming from groundwater sources like wells, streams, lakes and rivers, therefore its availability and quality being naturally subjected to climatic conditions. It further added that scarcity of these freshwater resources has the potential to affect Jamaica’s social and economic development, since the local agricultural sector relies on 75% of the local water supply. Mr.Christopher Corbin, Programme Officer for the Assessment and Management of Environmental Pollution (AMEP) Sub-programme at UNEP-CEP, reported that Small Island Developing States like Jamaica will have to be creative in managing their water resources in the face of all of these uncertainties and UNEP-CEP remains committed to helping countries like Jamaica to do that through projects such as the GEF CReW. Mr. Nelson Andrade Colmenares added that UNEP CEP is moving to develop new projects that will assist in identifying and implementing appropriate technologies so that more people can have access to safe and reliable water supplies and improved sanitation.

In 2014, the United Nations and its partners designated World Water Day with the theme Water and Energy to raise awareness about the inter linkages between water and energy and to raise awareness about those who do not have access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services. “UNEP is the voice for the environment in the United Nations system”. It is committed to addressing these problems through partnering with governments, civil society and the general public in policy implementation and collective action