As countries “Raised their Voices and Not the Sea Level” in celebration of World Environment Day, and prepare to commemorate World Oceans Day under the theme “Together We Have the Power to Protect the Oceans”, UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) has committed to develop the first state of marine environment report for the Caribbean Sea.
Nelson Andrade Colmenares, coordinator of the Kingston-based UNEP office, which also serves as Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Caribbean Sea, highlighted that “The development of such a report will be critical to obtain a better understanding of the current status of our coastal and marine resources, to identify trends as well as new threats”.
The UNEP CEP has been based in Jamaica for the past 27 years working with many partners to protect and sustain the Caribbean Sea and the goods and services which it provides for the people of the wider Caribbean region.
The sustainable development of the wider Caribbean region will require improved management of the region’s fragile marine resources and according to Andrade, “reliable and credible scientific data and information will be an invaluable decision-making tool, and assist in the evaluation of the effectiveness of existing national policies, laws and regulations.”
The first state of marine environment report for the Caribbean will build upon efforts by many regional agencies, projects and partners who have been working with UNEP CEP for the protection and development of the wider Caribbean region. The detailed content and approach will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of regional technical and scientific experts to be held in Nicaragua from June 10 to 13 who will be discussing a range of issues relating to the pollution of the marine environment.
The Caribbean Environment Programme is one of the UNEP’s regional seas programmes, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – International Year for SIDS. More than 143 countries participate in the 13 regional seas programmes globally and it has emerged as an inspiring example of how to implement a regional approach to protecting the coastal and marine environment while effectively managing the use of natural resources.
Christopher Corbin, programme officer with responsibility for pollution at the UNEP CEP office, outlined that, as the Secretariat begins the development of this regional report, new communication and outreach materials have also been developed that will be launched on World Oceans Day this year. These include a new website (www.cep.unep.org) and a new video that showcases the value of the Caribbean Sea, major sources and impacts of pollution and the benefits of regional agreements such as the Cartagena Convention and the protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources and activities (LBS Protocol).
Poor land use and agricultural practices and the lack of effective wastewater and industrial treatment contribute a range of pollutants such as sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals, pathogens, oil and nutrients directly or indirectly into the Caribbean Sea. Pollution not only poses threats to human health but can negatively impact on coral reefs, which provide US$375 million in goods and services annually to coastal economies through activities such as tourism, fisheries and maritime transportation.
These new communication and outreach efforts along with the increased use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter will ensure that information on the marine environment is not only used to improve national and regional decision-making but to improve awareness of why we need to protect the Caribbean Sea and its vulnerable yet valuable resources.
Credits: Island Resources Foundation (IRF), Caribbean News Now