Experts call for stronger cooperation on oil spills and nutrient management at major regional meetings

Experts call for stronger cooperation on oil spills and nutrient management at major regional meetings

Participants at the RAC-REMPEITC Meeting in Curacao, May 20-21

Jul 14, 2014


Over eighty percent of the Caribbean Sea is polluted from land based sources and activities on land such as deforestation, untreated wastewater, oil spills, agricultural runoff, farm waste and litter. This affects livelihoods, people’s health, island economies and ecosystems.

To address these problems, pollution experts from the Caribbeanmet recently at two meetings. The first meeting was the Seventh Steering Committee Meeting for the Regional Activity Centre - Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean (RAC-REMPEITC), for the Oil Spills Protocol held in Curacao from May 20-21.The other was the Second Meeting of the Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee (STAC), to the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS STAC 2) hosted by UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP CEP), held in Nicaragua from June 10-14.

At these meetings some of the key recommendations included:

  • UNEP CEP and the Government of Curacao agreed to the continued hosting of the regional activity centre in Curacao that supports the Protocol Concerning Cooperation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region (Oil Spills Protocol).
  • UNEP CEP and partners to promote the integration of oil spill disaster planning into national disaster planning processes by working with regional disaster agencies such as Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)
  • UNEP CEP to work with Oil Spill Regional Centre to provide technical support to countries affected by oil pollution including dispersants and rehabilitating areas contaminated with oil.
  • UNEP CEP to develop stronger partnerships with the GPNM (Global Partnership on Nutrient Management) to improve nutrient management within the Wider Caribbean Region
  • UNEP CEP and partner agencies to develop activities which will enhancethe implementation of the LBS Protocol with specific reference to ship generated waste, air pollution and pre-treatment of industrial effluent found in domestic wastewater.


Christopher Corbin, Programme Officer for the Assessment and Management of Environmental Pollution at UNEP CEP noted that these meetings were critical to evaluate the status of pollution in the region and to identify future priorities.

Nelson Andrade Colmenares, the Regional Coordinator for UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme, stressed that “currently fifty percent of coral reefs are in decline within the region.” However he added that “with continued stakeholder engagement, cooperation and action this trend can be reversed allowing the region to prosperfor generations to come.”

The recommendations from the technical meetings will be presented to the Thirteenth Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Wider Caribbean Region which will be held in Cartagena, Colombia. In this International Year of Small Island Developing States, ocean, seas and biodiversity have been listed as priority areas. Management of pollution can be addressed by education, stakeholder engagement and a commitment to tackling these issues and it is anticipated that these regional and global efforts will result in action.


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 ofmainly 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.

To find out more about the UNEP CAR-RCU and the SPAW Protocol, please visit the