US Ratifies Caribbean Sea Pollution Treaty
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Earlier this year, the United States became the sixth country to sign the regional environmental agreement titled ‘Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution Protocol’ (LBS), joining the governments of Belize, France, Panama, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago in their efforts to protect the Caribbean Sea from pollution.
The LBS Protocol aims to reduce pollution by implementing improved standards for wastewater discharges and industrial effluent, and through the promotion and use of best management practices and improved technologies. It is one of three protocols under the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) administered “Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region”. Three more signatures are required for the LBS Protocol to become legally binding for the 23 Contracting Parties to the Convention.
“The United States has been a strong advocate for the LBS Protocol, and is pleased to have ratified this treaty,” said Ambassador David Balton, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and Fisheries. “We look forward to working with our Caribbean neighbors to help bring this treaty into force, in order to better protect human health and marine resources throughout the Wider Caribbean Region.”
According to Christopher Corbin, UNEP Programme Officer with the Jamaica based Caribbean Environment Programme with responsibility for the LBS Protocol, the ratification of the LBS Protocol by the United States reflects the ongoing work by the Secretariat to raise awareness of the LBS Protocol as a mechanism to support the sustainable economic development of the Wider Caribbean region".
"As countries seek to identify measures to respond to other global challenges such as Climate Change and biodiversity loss, reducing the negative impacts of pollution from land-based sources and activities will be critical in reducing the vulnerability of marine ecosystems and coastal communities” said Corbin.
According to recent UNEP studies, more than 80% of marine pollution in the Caribbean Sea originates from activities on land with the main sources being sewage and run-off from poor agricultural practices and land use.
“This has direct negative impacts on human health, food security, and economic development – particularly coastal tourism,” explained Corbin.
One of the key features of the LBS protocol is regional cooperation in monitoring and research among all the countries of the Wider Caribbean Region. Ongoing regional activities facilitate the sharing of lessons and exchange of information among the countries to enable more effective management of the region’s valuable coastal and marine resources.
National promotional workshops to increase the awareness of the LBS Protocol have been held in several countries including Jamaica, Grenada, Haiti, Barbados, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
“These workshops have helped those countries establish a time table for ratification and encourages other countries to have similar promotional workshops in their ratification efforts,” explained Corbin.
“It is critical to have this Protocol enter into force and implemented to secure the economic sustainability of the region” said the Coordinator of the Caribbean Environment Programme, Nelson Andrade Colmenares. “With increased coastal development, more stringent pollution reduction and prevention controls must be implemented. The LBS Protocol enables this to be done and it is the intention of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme to have it enter into force this year. As a Secretariat, we will continue to source funding and technical assistance to assist those countries who have ratified the LBS Protocol in its implementation, while working with other Caribbean countries to overcome any existing barriers to ratification”.
The importance of the Cartagena Convention as the only regional legally binding agreement for the Protection and Development of the Caribbean Sea was reaffirmed during the 25th Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in 2008, where Ministers responsible for the Environment in CARICOM were asked to provide the highest level of political support to the ratification and implementation of the Convention and its Protocols including the LBS Protocol.
Courtesy of Caribbean Net News
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