Regions and network

UNEPGEFUniversity of Kalmar
Subregion 2: Gulf of Mexico

  • Major intergovernmental agreements and actors
  • Action programmes, strategies, and research
  • State of the regional environment
  • GEF Projects in the region
  • Other actors and initiatives

    Major intergovernmental agreements and actors

    Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region
    The Cartagena Convention, adopted 1983, is a Convention for achieving sustainable development of marine and coastal resources in the wider Caribbean region through effective integrated management that allows for increased economic growth. The Convention covers the various aspects of marine pollution for which the Contracting Parties must adopt measures. Thus, the Convention requires the adoption of measures aimed at preventing, reducing and controlling pollution of the following areas: pollution from ships, pollution caused by dumping, pollution from sea-bed activities, airborne pollution, pollution from land-based sources and activities. In addition, the Parties are required to take appropriate measures to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems, as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and to develop technical and other guidelines for the planning and environmental impact assessments of important development projects in order to prevent or reduce harmful impacts on the area of application. The Caribbean Regional Co-ordinating Unit (CAR/RCU) acts as Secretariat for the Convention. Protocols to the Convention include:

    • Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region (Oil Spills Protocol), adopted 1983.
    • Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (SPAW Protocol), adopted 1990.
    • Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (LBS Protocol), adopted 1999.

    North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, NAAEC
    The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) is the environmental side agreement to the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). The NAAEC was signed by Canada, Mexico and the United States and came into force in 1994. The Agreement creates a framework to better conserve, protect and enhance the North American environment through cooperation and effective enforcement of environmental laws.The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is the executive body for the Agreement. The Commission addresses regional environmental concerns in North America, helps prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and promotes the effective enforcement of environmental law, all as part of its mandate under the Agreement. This is done through the following programs: Environment, Economy and Trade; Conservation of Biodiversity; Pollutants and Health; Law and Policy; and Other Initiatives. Marine issues are found under "Stewardship for Shared Terrestrial and Marine Ecosystems and Transboundary Species": Cooperation on the Protection of Marine and Coastal Ecosystems; Mapping Marine and Estuarine Ecosystems of North America [will commence in 2001]; North American Marine Protected Areas Network; and North American Biodiversity Conservation Mechanisms.

    International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
    The Convention (see also pdf file) was adopted in 1966 and entered into force in 1969. The purpose of the Convention is the conservation of the resources of tuna and tuna-like fishes of the Atlantic Ocean. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) was established in 1969, under the Convention, as an inter-governmental fishery organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas. ICCAT is the only fisheries organization that can undertake the range of work required for the study and management of tunas and tuna-like fishes in the Atlantic. The Commission's work requires the collection and analysis of statistical information relative to current conditions and trends of the fishery resources in the Convention area.

    Treaty on the Utilization of Water of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande
    The 1944 Treaty distributes the waters in the international segment of the Rio Grande from Fort Quitman, Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. This treaty also authorizes the two countries to construct operate and maintain dams on the main channel of the Rio Grande. The 1944 Treaty builds on previous conventions, going back to 1884. The 1944 Treaty changed the name of the Internaional Boundary Commission to the International Boundary And Water Commission (IBWC), and in Article 3 the two governments entrusted the IBWC to give preferential attention of the solution of all border sanitation problems.

    Organisation of American States, OAS
    OAS Water Resources Programme: In conformity with the mandates of OAS member states, the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE) is engaged in several projects on transboundary water resource management in partnership with UNEP, the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in major river basin of South and Central America. The Unit is the secretariat for the Inter-American Water Resources Network (IWRN) - see below - and serves on the Board of Governors of the World Water Council. USDE is also collaborating with the Pan American Health Organization to organize inter-American conference on the link between water and health.

    UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, ROLAC
    See for example
    Forum of Environmental Ministers for Latin America and the Caribbean (only in Spanish).

    UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC
    The site of UN ECLAC comprises News; Publications; Main Studies; ECLAC Series; Research and Studies; Statistics; Projects; Library; Events; Work Programme; as well as ECLAC Headlines and Latest News.

    IOC Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions, IOCARIBE
    A regional subsidiary body of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO. IOCARIBE is responsible for the promotion,development and co-ordination of the IOC'smarine scientific research programmes, the ocean services, and related activities, including TEMA (training, education and mutual assistance), in the Carribbean and adjacent regions. In establishing its programmes, it takes into account the specific interests and needs of the member States in the region.

    Financial institutions

    Inter-American Development Bank, IADB
    The Inter-American Development Bank, the oldest and largest regional multilateral development institution, was established in December of 1959 to help accelerate economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean.


    Action programmes, strategies and research

    Caribbean Action Plan
    The Caribbean Action Plan (pdf file) emerged as a result of many years of work by governmental and non-governmental representatives of the Caribbean community, assisted primarily by UNEP. The programme objectives embraced by the Caribbean Action Plan, which was adopted in 1981, include the following:

    • Assistance to all countries of the region, recognising the special situation of the smaller islands;
    • Co-ordination of international assistance activities;
    • Strengthening existing national and subregional institutions;
    • Technical co-operation in the use of the region's human, financial and natural resources.

    Caribbean Environment Programme
    Established in 1983 under UNEP by the diverse states and territories of the Wider Caribbean to collectively address the protection and development in the coastal area. The CEP contains four sub-programmes:

    UNEP Regional Seas Programme
    The Regional Seas Programme was initiated in 1974 as a global programme implemented through regional components. The Regional Seas Programme is UNEP's main framework in the field of the coastal and marine environment. It includes 14 regions and three partner seas, involves more than 140 coastal states, and focuses on sustainable development of coastal and marine areas. Each regional action plan is formulated according to the needs and priorities of the region as perceived by the Governments concerned. Regional conventions are in place for several areas. See a map of all regional seas, and go to more information on the Black Sea, Wider Caribbean, Mediterranean, East Asian Seas, South Asian Seas, Eastern Africa, Kuwait Region, North West Pacific, Red Sea And Gulf of Aden, South East Pacific, North East Pacific, South Pacific, Upper South West Atlantic, and West and Central Africa. The UNEP Regional Seas web site also contains information on What's at stake, Major threats, and Actions.

    Gulf of Mexico Program
    The mission of the program is to facilitate the protection and restoration of the coastal marine water of the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal natural habitats; to sustain living resources; to protect human health and the food supply; and to ensure the recreational use of Gulf shores, beaches and waters in ways consistent with the economic well-being of the region, through a network of citizens and institutions.

    Regional Marine Pollution Emergency, Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean Region (REMPEITC-Carib)
    An IMO office assisting the countries in the region in preventing, preparing for and responding to major pollution incidents.

    Regional Vision for Central America and the Caribbean
    Also available as a pdf document. Regional visions form the basis for effective action, even as elements of a global plan. As a part of the Water Vision project, Regional Consultations were held and resulted in Regional Visions. The objective was to involve the stakeholders of each region in the development of their own regional vision, as he building blocks of the World Water Vision. Guided by the World Commission on Water in the 21st Century and managed by the World Water Vision Unit hosted by of the UNESCO Division of Water Science, the World Water Vision "aims to develop a massive public awareness of the risks of major water problems as a result of inaction, as well as encourage innovative thinking on how these problems can be tackled. It should encourage and empower people to participate in devising and implementing solutions to these water problems. And it should generate the political commitment to turn this increased public awareness into effective action".


    State of the regional environment

    Marine issues in the Caribbean
    Summaries of the state of the environment in the Caribbean region with regard to Coastal Zone Management; Maintenance of Biological Diversity; Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution; Coral Reef Conservation; and Sustainable Tourism Initiatives.

    GEO 2000 State of the Environment: Latin America and the Caribbean

    Global Enviroment Outlook 2000. GEO is:

    • a global environmental assessment process, the GEO Process, that is cross-sectoral and participatory. It incorporates regional views and perceptions, and builds consensus on priority issues and actions through dialogue among policy-makers and scientists at regional and global levels.
    • GEO outputs, in printed and electronic formats, including the GEO Report series. This series makes periodic reviews of the state of the world's environment, and provides guidance for decision-making processes such as the formulation of environmental policies, action planning and resource allocation. Other outputs include technical reports, a web site and a publication for young people.

    GEF Projects in the region

    Projects under implementation

    World Bank - GEF - International Waters:
    Wider Caribbean Initiative for Ship-Generated Waste
    Project activities will lay the foundation for countries in the Wider Caribbean Region to ratify and implement the MARPOL 73/78 Convention, ending discharge of ship-generated wastes into international and territorial waters. Technical assistance will be provided for studies leading to a regional strategy for the implemenation of MARPOL 73/78, assessment of existing waste management systems, formulation of criteria for waste reception facilities at ports, development of integrated waste management alternatives, and public awareness programs. The project will also support periodic regional consultative meetings to reach consensus on different elements of a regional MARPOL strategy.

    World Bank - GEF - International Waters:
    Ship-Generated Waste Management
    The project will assist OECS governments in reducing pollution of international and territorial waters caused by the discharge of ship-generated solid wastes by supporting appropriate actions aimed at improving collection, treatment and disposal of these wastes. It includes national components consisting of the establishment of port-waste reception facilities and incremental expansion of landfill sites to handle ship-generated wastes, together with a regional component comprised of support activities and technical assistance for project management, training and education, establishment of common legal framework for ship waste management, recycling possibilities and public awareness programs. Project activities will also protect critical habitat for the endangered Grenada dove.

    UNDP - GEF - Biodiversity:
    Priority Actions to Consolidate Biodiversity Protection in the Sabana-Camaguey Ecosystem, Cuba
    The project is aimed at supporting the incorporation of biodiversity concerns into integrated coastal zone management. This consolidation phase project focuses on the northern archipelago of the Sabana-Camaguey Ecosystem (SCE) in central Cuba, which harbors marine and terrestrial biodiversity of global significance. The diversity is threatened principally by conventional tourism development , and more locally and to a much lesser extent, from over-fishing and agro-industrial pollution. The successfully completed first stage of the GEF-funded project (1993-1997) established the scientific and institutional foundations for biodiversity conservation through integrated management of the entire SCE.

    UNDP - GEF - Biodiversity:
    Protecting Biodiversity and Establishing Sustainable Development of the in Sabana-Camaguey Region, Cuba
    Project enhances current surveys of biodiversity by providing equipment and resources and assisting with rapid ecological inventories. Includes facilitating creaqtion of geographic information systems, ongoing monitoring and analysis, and translation of data into procedures and guidelines for eco-tourism development.

    Project concepts in the pipeline


    Other actors, initiatives and resources

    Inter-American Water Resources Network, IWRN
    The IWRN is a network of networks whose purpose is to build and strengthen water resources partnerships in the Americas. The network promotes horizontal collaboration among members of the water resources community in the Americas. It facilitates technical cooperation and information sharing, develops opportunities for education and training and forms partnerships to investigate and manage water resources.

    International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management, ICLARM
    An international research organization "devoted to improving the productivity, management and conservation of aquatic resources for the benefit of users and consumers in developing countries". ICLARM is one of the research centres of CGIAR, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
    See, for example, Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Project: The Role of Marine Protected Areas in Fisheries Management and Biodiversity Conservation in Coral Reef Ecosystems. ICLARM, in collaboration with the the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other partners, and with support from the European Commission, has also developed FishBase, a global information system on fishes for research scientists, fisheries managers, zoologists and many more. FishBase contains full information on 23,500 species. Furthermore, ICLARM has developed similar systems on coral reefs and their resources (ReefBase) and management of fish stocks in Asia (TrawlBase).

    International Coral Reef Initiative, ICRI
    An environmental partnership that brings stakeholders together with the objective of sustainable use and conservation of coral reefs for future generations. ICRI is an informal mechanism that allows representatives of over 80 developing countries with coral reefs to sit in equal partnership with major donor countries and development banks, international environmental and development agencies, scientific associations, the private sector and NGOs to decide on the best strategies to conserve the world's coral reef resources.

    Coral Health and Monitoring Programme, NOOA
    The mission of the NOOA Coral Health and Monitoring Program is to provide services to help improve and sustain coral reef health throughout the world. Long term goals:Establish an international network of coral reef researchers for the purpose of sharing knowledge and information on coral health and monitoring.Provide near real-time data products derived from satellite images and monitoring stations at coral reef areas. Provide a data repository for historical data collected from coral reef areas. Add to the general fund of coral reef knowledge.See also Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, GCRMN.

    Gulf of Mexico - a Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)
    A Large Marine Ecosystem, LME, is a "region of ocean space encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundary of continental shelves and the seaward margins of coastal current systems. It is a relatively large region characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations." See also Rhode Island University map of LMEs.


  • Global International Waters Assessment, GIWA
    SE- 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden
    Phone: +46- 480 44 60 00. Fax: +46- 480 44 73 55.

    page last modified on 22 August 2006