Caribbean Pollution Experts commit to support the development of the First State of Marine Environment Report

Kingston, Jamaica- September 15, 2016

At a recent regional workshop convened by the UN Environment - Caribbean Environment Programme, (UNEP CEP) in Jamaica (August 15-17), over 30 national and regional experts committed their support to the continued development of the region’s first State of Marine Environment Report for the Caribbean Sea.

The development of the report will be financed by two regional projects funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) – the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems Project (“UNDP/GEF CLME+”) and the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF IWEco). The contributions from these two projects are expected to be in excess of USD 100,000.

Addressing the experts during the workshop, Mr. Christopher Corbin, UNEP CEP’s Programme Officer with responsibility  for  its  Pollution  sub-programme  explained  that  many  countries  in  the  Wider Caribbean Region have “limited data on the levels of pollution of their marine environments and that this was being compounded by inadequate national monitoring capacity.’’.

Mr. Corbin further highlighted that the lack of pollution data hindered the ability of Governments to identify “pollution hot spots” and focus their Interventions in areas with the highest environmental and human health risks.     According to recent UNEP reports, pollution continues to be one of the most significant threats to coastal and marine ecosystems and to public health in the Wider Caribbean Region.

This assessment report is expected to support harmonized regional approaches for managing transboundary pollution and to protect fragile coastal and marine resources. The main challenges identified for developing the report included:

(1) Selecting the most appropriate and cost-effective methodology;

(2) Ensuring quality of data; and

(3) Gaining access to existing pollution-related information.

Improving knowledge about the state of the marine environment including identifying the major sources and impacts  of  pollution is  one of  the  objectives  of  the  Land  Based  Sources  and  Activities  (LBS) Protocol. The LBS Protocol, which was adopted in 1999 and became law in 2010 requires countries in the Wider Caribbean Region to: “take all measures to prevent reduce and control pollution” of the Caribbean Sea.

The development of the region’s first State of Environment Report is just one of many ongoing activities by UNEP CEP and partners to provide capacity-building support that will enable regional Governments to better assess the quantities, types, sources and impacts of land-based sources of marine pollution.

The first draft of the report is expected to be presented at the 3rd Conference of Parties to the LBS Protocol to be held in early 2017.