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Safeguarding marine environment takes centre stage

Published:Friday | June 7, 2019 | 12:05 AM

Efforts to safeguard the coastal and marine environment in the Wider Caribbean Region took centre stage earlier this week when Contracting Parties to the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols met in Roatán, Honduras.

The meetings coincided with the commemoration of World Environment Day on June 5, which was spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Programme. The Honduran government will also host the Blue Economy Summit today to encourage the sustainable use of ocean resources in the region through innovation and technology, as well as carry out activities to commemorate World Oceans Day on June 8.

Discussions during the 10th Meeting of Parties to the Specially Protected Area and Wildlife Protocol (SPAW or Biodiversity Protocol) emphasised the importance of conserving coral reefs and mangroves, the growing problem of ocean acidification, and the preservation of marine protected areas and specially protected species which are essential to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The continued impacts of sargassum (a type of algae) on the region was also assessed.

During the meetings, high-level delegates from the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Kenya and its regional office in Panama joined top officials in the Honduran government, representatives from the convention’s regional activity centres and 38 participants from 26 countries. In addition, more than 30 observers, including partner agencies and non-governmental organisations, attended and participated in discussions.

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 adopted by 26 countries.

In 2018, Honduras became the most recent country to ratify the Convention and its three Protocols.