Regional Governments to Reaffirm Their Commitment to Protecting the Caribbean Sea

Article Contributed by UN Environment Programme

Kingston, Jamaica. 23rd July 2021. Governments of the Wider Caribbean will next week reaffirm their commitment to the protection and sustainable use of the marine and coastal resources of the Caribbean Sea. This takes place within the framework of the Conferences of Parties to the Cartagena Convention, the only regional legally binding agreement for the protection and development of the Caribbean Sea.

The Secretariat to the Convention, based in Jamaica, convenes its Conferences of Parties (COP) every two years to review achievements, approve the next work plan and budget, and make key decisions on its work. Three intergovernmental meetings will be held virtually from 26th – 30th July 2021 and will be chaired by the Government of Barbados.

The week-long event commences with the 5th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (5th LBS COP), which has been ratified by 15 countries in the Wider Caribbean. Barbados is the latest country to pledge their political commitment to this agreement, having ratified the Protocol in June 2019. Contracting Parties to this Marine Pollution Protocol are expected to approve, inter alia, the Regional Nutrients Pollution Reduction Strategy, discuss the establishment of new working groups to strengthen the work of the Protocol and how to improve knowledge, data and information management on marine pollution.

These discussions will be followed by the 11th COP to the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (11th SPAW COP) to be held on 27th July. The 17 Contracting Parties to this Protocol will discuss emerging issues such as the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and ocean acidification, which threaten marine biodiversity in the region, as well as the establishment of working groups to enhance the conservation of marine mammals, sea turtles, corals andherbivorous fishes, among others. Delegates will also review new activities and priorities for biodiversity conservation and management, as well as linkages with relevant global initiatives.

From 28th – 30th July, the 16th COP to the Convention and the 19th Intergovernmental Meeting of the Caribbean Environment Programme will focus on reviewing the status of activities undertaken by the Secretariat and Contracting Parties in the last biennium, supporting Member States in building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, setting priorities and approving the 2021-2022 work plan, and strengthening relationships with Member States and partners.

The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR), known as the Cartagena Convention, was ratified in 1986 to promote the protection and development of the marine environment in the WCR. Since then, it has been ratified by 26 countries. The Secretariat of the Convention also supports Governments to achieve global targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals, SAMOA Pathway, and activities related to the United Nations Decades on Ecosystem Restoration and Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Voices of Contracting Parties:

As we commence the UN Decades on Ecosystem Restoration and Ocean Science, how would you describe the role of the Cartagena Convention in helping your country achieve the goals of these campaigns?

“The Cartagena Convention and its Protocols support Contracting Parties’ efforts to achieve the goals of the UN Decades on Ecosystem Restoration and Ocean Science by providing a platform to foster political will, mobilize resources, build capacity, identify synergies, and exchange information at the regional level. Many of the UN Decades’ objectives directly complement implementation of the Convention and its Protocols, and vice versa. For example, both the UN Decade of Ocean Science and the LBS Protocol strive towards a clean ocean, where sources of pollution are identified and removed.”

– Samantha Dowdell, United States of America

“The effort to reach the (UN Decades on Ecosystem Restoration and Ocean Science) goals can be achieved as a country Aruba or as wider Caribbean joint effort. As we strive for joint efforts in the region to implement restoration of ecosystems, a more efficient and impactful result can be reached. Aruba currently focuses on marine and coastal restoration through policy implementation, research and monitoring of coastal waters and implementation of MPAs. The nearshore habitats protection depends highly on science-based research to maintain or improve the marine environment for a healthier coral ecosystem, seagrass beds, and mangrove ecosystem. Relying on science-based research helps establish information that is useful for further policymaking decisions to improve water quality regulations, reduce the land-based sources of pollution, protection of species and halt climate change threats. The goals of the campaign and the knowledge of the Cartagena Convention needs to be communicated and channeled to our community in order to establish behavioral change and create global movement.”

– Gisbert R. Boekhoudt, Aruba

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