About the ACP MEAs

The programme on capacity building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries resulted from a partnership between the European Commission (EC), the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP Secretariat), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The aim of this Programme is to empower key stakeholders to address environmental challenges and to reap the benefits of improved environmental management at the national and regional levels. Learn more

Message by the CARICOM Secretariat on the Occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity, 22 May 2023

Best Practices on Handling, Storage, Safety of Mercury Added Products

Clean-up of household mercury spills. See interactive version here

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ASG Note

The Caribbean Hub of the Project for Capacity Building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries was established within the CARICOM Secretariat in 2009. This initiative, funded by the European Union (EU) and supported by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and UN Environment, now in its third phase, has made significant strides towards strengthening and enhancing the capacity of Caribbean ACP countries to effectively implement environmental agreements and their related commitments in the chemicals and waste and biodiversity clusters of MEAs. Read more

Press Releases / In the Media

  • The UN’s 193 Member States adopted a landmark legally binding marine biodiversity agreement on Monday following nearly two decades of fierce negotiations over forging a common wave of conservation and sustainability in the high seas beyond national boundaries – covering two thirds of the planet’s oceans. Here are five key points on why it is important for the world. 1. Fresh protection beyond borders While countries are responsible for the conservation and sustainable use of waterways under their national jurisdiction, the high seas now have added protection from such destructive trends as pollution and unsustainable fishing activities. Adopted by the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), the “high seas” treaty aims at taking stewardship of the ocean on behalf of present and future generations, in line with the Convention on the Law of the Sea. The new agreement contains 75 articles that aim at protecting, caring for, and ensuring the responsible use of the marine environment, maintaining the integrity of ocean ecosystems, and conserving the inherent value of marine biological diversity. “The ocean is the lifeblood of our planet, and today, you have pumped new life and hope to give the ocean a fighting chance,” the UN Secretary-General António Guterres told delegates on Monday. 2. Cleaner oceans Toxic chemicals and millions of tons of plastic waste are flooding into coastal ecosystems, killing or injuring fish, sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals, and making their way into the food chain and ultimately being consumed by humans. More than 17 million metric tons of plastic entered the world’s ocean in 2021, making up 85 per cent of marine litter, and projections are expected to double or triple each year by 2040, according to the latest Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) report. According to UN estimates, by 2050, there could be more plastic in the sea than fish unless action is taken. The treaty aims at strengthening resilience and contains provisions based on the polluter-pays principle as well as mechanisms for disputes. Under the treaty’s provisions, parties must assess potential environmental impacts of any planned activities beyond their jurisdictions. 3. Sustainably managing fish stocks More than one third of global fish stocks are over-exploited, according to the UN. The treaty underlines the importance of capacity building and the transfer of marine technology, including the development and strengthening of institutional capacity and national regulatory frameworks or mechanisms. This includes increasing collaboration among regional seas organizations and regional fisheries management organizations. The loss of sea ice accelerates global heating and changes climate patterns. (Photo via UN) 4. Lowering temperatures Global heating is pushing ocean temperatures to new heights, fueling more frequent and intense storms, rising sea levels, and the salinization of coastal lands and aquifers. Addressing these urgent concerns, the treaty offers guidance, including through an integrated approach to ocean management that builds ecosystem resilience to tackle the adverse effects of climate change and ocean acidification, and maintains and restores ecosystem integrity, including carbon cycling services. Treaty provisions also recognize the rights and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, the freedom of scientific research, and need for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits. 5. Vital for realizing 2030 Agenda The new agreement “is critical to addressing the threats facing the ocean, and to the success of ocean-related goals and targets, including the 2030 Agenda, the UN chief said on Monday. Some of the goals and targets include Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which aims at, among other things, preventing and significantly reducing marine pollution of all kinds by 2025, and ending overfishing through science-based management plans in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible. The new agreement will enable the establishment of area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, to conserve and sustainably manage vital habitats and species in the high seas and the international seabed area. The treaty also considers the special circumstances facing small-island and landlocked developing nations. “We have a new tool,” UN General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi told the Intergovernmental Conference delegates on Monday. “This landmark achievement bears witness to your collective commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Together, you laid the foundation for a better stewardship of our seas, ensuring their survival for generations to come.” Learn more about how the UN is working to protect the world’s oceans here.

  • World Oceans Day is being observed 8 June 2023 The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with its common vision of economic integration and cooperation, is committed to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development, especially in the face of climate change and its impacts on the ocean. This year, the theme of World Oceans Day is “Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing”. This theme reflects the urgency and the opportunity to take action for the ocean, which is facing unprecedented threats from pollution, overfishing, acidification, warming and sea level rise. The theme also highlights the potential of the ocean to provide solutions for post-COVID recovery, particularly for some of the most pressing global challenges such as food security, renewable energy, biodiversity management and climate resilience. As a region surrounded by ocean, CARICOM understands the importance of conserving and restoring the ocean and its resources. CARICOM has been actively involved in various initiatives and partnerships to support ocean governance and management, such as the Caribbean Sea Commission, the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Project and the Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project. CARICOM also supports the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), which aims to foster scientific research and innovation for a healthy and productive ocean. The leadership of CARICOM Member States was also instrumental in recently securing a new global agreement for the conservation of biodiversity in international waters. Senior Environment Officials will meet on 19 June to discuss pressing environmental issues, including a way forward in implementing the new high seas biodiversity treaty. This will be followed by a meeting of Ministers with responsibility for the Environment later this month during the 108th Special Meeting of the Council of Trade and Economic Development – Environment and Sustainable Development (COTED). On this World Oceans Day, CARICOM invites all its citizens and partners to join in celebrating and protecting our shared ocean. Together, we can make a difference for our planet and our future with every citizen, community group, organization and government pledging to reduce its use of destructive plastics and be agents for change and improving our relationship with the Caribbean Sea.

  • Today, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat have gathered 14 countries in the Caribbean to showcase the impressive efforts in phasing out mercury-added products in some of the countries in the region. The conference organisers hope to raise awareness about the global mercury crisis, emphasise the importance of implementing the Minamata Convention throughout the region, and encourage those countries that haven’t ratified the Convention to join this global and legally binding agreement. The event takes place on 6 and 7 June in Port-of-Spain and is hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago government. Since the year 2021, the EEB and ZMWG have been actively assisting the governments of Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda to phase out the mercury-added products (MAPs) listed under Article 4 of the Minamata Convention. Through the Sustainable Development Programme of the CARICOM Secretariat, the Region is taking significant strides towards building capacity and gathering support for the effective implementation, monitoring, enforcement of and reporting of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and related commitments in the chemicals and waste cluster, including mercury. Together, the EEB and ZMWG have been involved in supporting the three Caribbean governments in the assessment of their institutional capacity and needs, as well as in the development of a roadmap for phasing-out MAPs. With the aid of local consultants, the organisations have conducted comprehensive market studies to discover the availability of mercury-free alternatives, whilst lending their expertise to the development of mercury-free procurement policies for MAPs, such as lamps, medical measuring devices and dental amalgam. The conference is an opportunity to share the ZMWG’s Guide and Checklist to phase out the Mercury Added Products (MAPs), its template for developing a national plan to phase out MAPs, a market study on mercury-free product alternatives and examples of (mercury-free) procurement policies. These actions could come to complement the development and implementation of other chemicals and waste initiatives conducted by the CARICOM Secretariat and would allow for synergies and coordination between other regional agencies involved in similar initiatives. The collaboration with the Caribbean governments reflects the EEB and ZMWG’s unwavering commitment to supporting the reduction and eventual elimination of the use of MAPs in the region and is part of the third phase of the Africa, Caribbean Pacific, Multilateral Environmental Agreements programme (ACP MEAs III), a partnership between the European Union, the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, UN Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Jointly, the EEB and ZMWG cooperate with the United Nations Environmental Programme and global partners to support and identify projects that reduce the use of and exposure to this dangerous neurotoxin and make mercury a thing of the past. In recognition of the growing global mercury crisis, the EEB and ZMWG channeled resources to relevant NGOs or government projects across the world that are engaged in reducing mercury emissions and implementing the Convention. The Minamata Convention is directed towards the protection of human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. According to UNEP’s Global Mercury Assessment Report, human activities have increased the total atmospheric mercury concentrations by about 450% above natural levels. Between 2010 and 2015 and despite regulatory efforts to limit mercury emissions into the atmosphere, these have increased by 20%. Rina Guadagnini, EEB Policy Officer: “The current and future generations want to enjoy their right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, free from the dangers of mercury pollution. Future-proof policies must be mercury-free and this most toxic element on Earth must be made a thing of the past. Networks such as the EEB/ZMWG can offer expertise that supports achieving the mercury policy change we want to see.” Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB’s Policy Manager for the ‘Zero Mercury’ campaign: “The fight against mercury pollution is a long and assiduous journey that requires the collaboration of decision-makers, civil society and business partners at national, regional and global levels. We are onboard with providing the assistance, but national governments have the lead in implementing the Convention. We need their commitment to limit the mercury pollution in the country and in the world.”

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