Caribbean countries receive urgent support to tackle environmental issues from leading international organizations
In an effort to strengthen the response of Caribbean countries to address the environmental concerns they face and enhance their capacities to fully engage in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) implementation, the Secretariat of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Cartagena Convention, along with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are jointly implementing a 5-year programme (2020-2024) funded by the European Union. This programme, will support and guide Caribbean countries as they address the challenges associated with the sound management of chemicals and waste, marine pollution, coastal erosion and loss of biodiversity.
The programme entitled Capacity building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in ACP Countries Phase III (ACP-MEAs) and is a joint partnership among the European Union, the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), UNEP, and the FAO to build capacity in 79 ACP countries, thereby fulfilling their obligations as parties to various MEAs. The European Union formally approved the project in 2019 and agreements with all partner executing agencies were finalized in 2020.
The MEAs play a critical role in achieving sustainable development; they guide national and regional action on environmental issues and provide a legal basis at the global level to address ecological concerns. The coherent implementation of environmental treaties contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and environmental targets established by countries in the region. However, transforming these commitments into tangible on-the-ground results, remains a challenge for many Caribbean countries. This is due to a lack of adequate financial and human capacity to address the scientific and technical issues that have become increasingly complex.
Although progress has been made to address environmental threats and conserve terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the momentum has not been enough in the Caribbean to reverse the continued trend of environmental degradation and loss of critical biodiversity. As a community with islands identified as the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, these changes impact our unique species and increase habitat loss and vulnerability of extinction of valuable ecosystems for goods and services. Consequently, despite all our advances we will always remain dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy.
Through the ACP MEA Phase III Project, Caribbean countries are being supported in their efforts to strengthen their regulatory processes, and mechanisms to influence environmental actions and outcomes including local, national and regional institutional capacities to meet these goals and secure a sustainable future.
Some of the priorities for the Caribbean under the ACP MEA Phase III Project include the
effective integration of environmental concerns addressed in MEAs into national and regional policies and laws. This also comprises of the strengthening regional negotiation skills, awareness raising, support to the development of information systems, environmental assessments, establishment of marine protected areas and sharing of relevant experiences. In addition, the better management of coastal areas and oceans; carrying out measures for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity; and effectively implementing the related regional seas conventions. In order to substantially reduce marine litter levels, it will be essential to develop appropriate programmes and measures to stop waste from entering the marine environment, both from sea-based and land-based resources.
Similar to previous phases of the project, experiences and lessons learned will be shared among African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the participation of the African Union Commission and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme who will facilitate the integration of activities.
CARICOM, along with the UNEP Cartagena Convention Secretariat and FAO will continue to empower key stakeholders to address environmental challenges and achieve improved environmental management at the national and regional levels.
For more information on the ACP MEAs Phase III Project in the Caribbean region, contact:
- Ms. Teshia Jn Baptiste, Project Coordinator, ACP MEAs Phase III Project, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Lorna Inniss, Coordinator, UNEP Cartagena Convention Secretariat, email@example.com
- Dr Vyjayanthi Lopez, Plant Production and Protection Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization, firstname.lastname@example.org