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Caribbean governments to set environmental agenda for the 21st century

Kingston/Nairobi, 14 February 2000 - Some 85 officials from around the Caribbean have gathered in Kingston, Jamaica for a five-day meeting on the Caribbean Environment Programme and the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region.

The meeting will bring together the 36 States and territories of the wider Caribbean region that participate in the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP). Observers from other regional environmental organizations and from non- governmental, governmental, and international organizations will also be in attendance.

"This week's meeting will set the stage for regional cooperation on environment and sustainable development for the Caribbean in the 21st century," said Klaus Toepfer, Under- Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, which provides the secretariat for CEP. "The concerns - environmental and economic - of the Caribbean States are a microcosm of the challenges facing all nations. As such their sustainable development is of global importance. The sustainable development of these States is much more than about beaches and coral reefs, climate change and natural disasters. Is requires the forging of effective partnerships between peoples and governments and with developed and developing countries". Jorge Illueca, Director of UNEP's Division of Environmental Conventions, will represent UNEP's Executive Director at the meeting.

As Secretariat to the Caribbean Environment Programme, the UNEP Regional Coordinating Unit in Jamaica promotes regional co-operation on the protection and sustainable development of the marine environment of the Wider Caribbean Region.

CEP's activities include training and assistance for the management of marine protected areas; technology training and support to national planning for the control of marine pollution from sewage, agriculture, oil spills, and other human activities; and improving the availability and use of environmental information management systems. These activities directly support the Cartagena Convention and its various Protocols.

Twenty-one countries have become Contracting Parties to the only existing regional environmental treaty for the Caribbean since the adoption of the Cartagena Convention in 1983. Three Protocols give effect to the Convention: the 1983 Oil Spills Protocol, the 1990 Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol, and the 1999 Land-based Sources of Marine Pollution (LBS) Protocol. The implementation of these Protocols provides the focus for co- operative action.

"Several years after its adoption, the regional legal agreement on Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife has been ratified by many Parties to the Convention and is expected to enter into force in early 2000," said Mr. Nelson Andrade Colmenares, Coordinator of CEP, which was established by UNEP in 1981. "We will also be seeking early ratification by members of the new agreement adopted in October 1999 for preventing and controlling marine pollution from land-based activities."

The agenda for this week's meeting includes an evaluation and analysis of projects carried out since 1997, a new five-year strategy to strengthen implementation of the Convention, and new financial rules and a financial strategy to enhance the implementation of the Programme. The Meeting will also discuss efforts to institutionalize new Regional Activity Centres that will help to decentralize the work of the Caribbean Environment Programme and will handle specialized activities.

The current meeting includes both the Ninth Intergovernmental Meeting on the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme and the Sixth Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region.

Note to journalists: The meeting is taking place at the Conference Centre in Kingston, Jamaica.

For additional information, please contact:
Tim Kasten, Programme Officer,
UNEP-CAR/RCU, 14-20 Port Royal Street, Kingston, Jamaica;
Tel: (876) 922-9267; Fax: (876) 922-9292;
Email: tjk.uneprcuja@ cwjamaica.com;
In Nairobi, please contact
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesman/Director of Information, Communications and Public Information,
Tel: (254-2) 623292; Fax: (254-2) 623692;
Email: cpiinfo@unep.org

UNEP News Release 00/13

Tuesday 15 Feb 2000
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