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Pollution Agreement for the Caribbean gains further support

Pollution Agreement for the Caribbean gains further support. Photo: Provided
United Nations Environment Programme

The Dominican Republic has become the latest country from the Wider Caribbean Region to ratify the Protocol concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities of Marine Pollution known as the LBS Protocol.

This brings to eleven (11) the total number of countries to have ratified this agreement. The LBS Protocol, which was developed in 1999 and became international law in 2010, is the only regional agreement of its kind for the prevention, reduction and control of marine pollution from land-based activities.  It is one of three agreements under the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Caribbean Sea, known as the Cartagena Convention, for which UNEP's Caribbean Environment Programme, based in Kingston, Jamaica, is the Secretariat. 

According to Mr. Nelson Andrade Colmenares, Coordinator of the Cartagena Convention and the LBS Protocol Secretariat, “the recent ratification by the Dominican Republic demonstrates the continued political commitment of regional governments to address pollution related issues". He added that countries that have already ratified the LBS Protocol have benefitted from increased financial and technical support for addressing pollution. 

More than 70% of the pollution of the Caribbean Sea originates from the land and includes sewage, garbage, run-off of sediments, pesticides and fertilizers and industrial effluents that often contain toxic chemicals, oil and heavy metals. 

Mr. Christopher Corbin, Programme Officer, at the UNEP Jamaica office, with responsibility for the LBS Protocol, confirms that while the Secretariat has been able to mobilize donor funding from agencies, such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF), for national and regional projects, much more needs to be done to address pollution in the region.   “There have been improvements in national policies and legislation but enforcement is still lacking”, said Corbin. In addition, the continued poor management of solid and liquid waste negatively impacts economic sectors such as tourism and fisheries, affecting both livelihoods and human health. Poor land use practices, including deforestation and improper garbage disposal, are believed to have exacerbated the recent flooding events in the Eastern Caribbean.   

Countries which ratify the LBS Protocol commit to:

1. Take measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the Caribbean Sea;

2. Improve national policies, laws and enforcement mechanisms;

3. Monitor and evaluate the sources and impacts of pollution; and 

4. Educate the general public about pollution impacts and suggest ways to prevent and reduce its negative impact. 

The Secretariat of the Cartagena Convention will be convening the Second (2nd) Conference of Parties to the LBS Protocol during the second half of 2014.  “By then, at least “another two or three countries should have ratified the LBS Protocol” said Mr. Andrade Colmenares.   He further outlined that while the negative impacts of pollution on human health and the environment are well documented, in the current economic climate, our challenge will be to address pollution at the local community level and do so in a way that provides tangible economic and social benefits for the general population.

We have to look at developing our own pollution control and treatment technologies, we have to transform our local industries using cleaner production methods that enable them to not only be less polluting but more competitive in the global marketplace. Success will only be achieved if all stakeholders are on board including the private sector and NGO community, and the Cartagena Convention Secretariat remains committed to promote this kind of regional co-operation for the protection and development of the marine environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, Mr. Andrade Colmenares concluded. 

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