Nine Caribbean countries launch journey towards a chemical-free environment

Nine Caribbean nations have joined forces in the fight for a toxic-free future for the region, with the launch of the US $11-million Caribbean ISLANDS project today.

Together, the countries are set to eliminate over 400 tonnes of contaminated material and avoid the release of more than 150,000 tonnes of marine litter.

At the virtual launch event, representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago expressed their commitment to working together, sharing best practice, and delivering a common message on the need to soundly manage and dispose of harmful chemicals and materials in Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).

The Caribbean initiative is one of six regional projects being backed by the Global Environment Facility and partners under the US $515 million Implementing Sustainable Low and Non-Chemical Development in Small Island Developing States Programme (ISLANDS).

Small Island Developing States host some of the world’s most precious ecosystems, but they also face some of the greatest environmental challenges,” GEF CEO and Chairman Carlos Manual Rodriquez said. “Building the capacity of SIDS to safely manage and dispose of toxic and polluting substances is a crucial step in ensuring a healthy future for both the people of the Caribbean and their environment.” 

Led by the UN Environment Programme, the ISLANDS programme is supporting 33 SIDS across the Atlantic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean to develop sustainably without a build-up of toxic and hazardous substances in their territories.

The Caribbean is the first region to launch the programme, under which it will focus on circular economy approaches to the management of e-waste, end-of-life vehicles and plastics, as well as the environmentally sound phasing-out of harmful chemicals and materials. ISLANDS will also support SIDS to develop policies to control the import of chemicals, materials and products that lead to the generation of hazardous waste.

Two parallel ISLANDS Caribbean projects, the ISLANDS Caribbean Incubator Facility supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, and the ISLANDS Caribbean II project supported by UNEP, will be launched in 2022.

“The BCRC-Caribbean project will actively engage a full range of stakeholders, from global chemicals and waste specialists to policymakers and influencers – and from local entrepreneurs, small businesses to big industry,” said Ms. Jewel Batchasingh, the Director (Ag.) of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean (BCRC-Caribbean), the entity executing the project in the region.

A global communication, coordination and knowledge management project, managed by the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP), connects the regional ISLANDS projects and will help maximize the collective impact of the country and regional projects, with coordinated outreach campaigns and active exchange of the latest learning and know-how.

Click here to read the full article on the GGKP website.