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Caribbean gov’ts commit to improve management of marine resources

Published:Wednesday | June 26, 2019 | 12:07 AM

More than 80 regional and international experts, including government officials, non-governmental organisations, development partners and United Nations (UN) agencies, met in Honduras from June 3-6 to review the achievements of the Cartagena Convention Secretariat over the last two years (2017-2018) and to agree on priorities for the 2019-2020 biennium.

The 15th Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, and the 4th and 10th Meetings of the Contracting Parties to the Protocols Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (or Pollution Protocol) and Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (or Marine Biodiversity Protocol), respectively, were hosted by the government of Honduras in Roatan. This marked the first time a Central American country hosted all three intergovernmental meetings of the UN Environment-administered secretariat.

The Caribbean is one of the most interconnected and dynamic environments in the world, with multiple socio-economic and ecological benefits derived from diverse economies, cultures and ecosystems. According to Patil et al (2016) in the World Bank report Toward a Blue Economy: A Promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean: An Overview, the value of the ocean economy in the Caribbean has been estimated at US$407 billion, and the ocean economy is expected to further contribute to sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda.

urgent actions needed

To maintain the provision of the benefits derived from the Caribbean Sea, the multiple impacts on marine and coastal environments need to be addressed holistically. Regional governments must take urgent action to control, reduce and prevent marine pollution, including from plastics, untreated sewage and fertiliser run-off, and protect their coastal and marine biodiversity such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds.

In his welcome address on behalf of the secretariat, Christopher Corbin, programme officer for the Pollution and Communications Sub-Programme, highlighted that the recent development of a new strategy (2020-2030) for the secretariat would enable it to better respond to the needs of governments and position itself to take advantage of new and emerging opportunities.

“Our convention ... continues to evolve ... . [Its] three main areas –marine biodiversity, land-based pollution and oil spills – [are] as relevant today as they were almost 40 years ago. However, the convention makes no mention of ocean-based or blue economies, of micro-plastics, of ocean acidification, sargassum, ecosystem-based management, marine spatial planning or even climate-change issues that are now critical if we want to continue on a path towards sustainable development,” he stated.