Caricom to assist Caribbean countries with environmental concerns

Caribbean News Now – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will assist 79 Caribbean nations to tackle environmental concerns in the period of five years.

In a release, CARICOM said that the Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Cartagena Convention, along with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) are jointly implementing the five-year programme in an effort to strengthen the response and to enhance capacities to fully engage in the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) implementation.

“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.”

Funded by the European Union the programme is entitled Capacity building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in ACP Countries Phase III (ACP-MEAs)

“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.”

CARICOM likewise said 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.”

CARICOM emphasized that 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 project include the effective integration of environmental concerns addressed in MEAs into national and regional policies and laws.

This also comprises strengthening regional negotiation skills, awareness-raising, support to the development of information systems, environmental assessments, the 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.”

Along with the UNEP Cartagena Convention Secretariat and FAO, CARICOM said it will continue to empower key stakeholders to address environmental challenges and achieve improved environmental management at the national and regional levels.

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