Capacity for wastewater treatment is low; 98
per cent of domestic wastewater is discharged into the northeast
Pacific and 90 per cent into the wider Caribbean without treatment
Source: UNEP, David Tapia Munoz, Topham Picturepoint
International policy responses to the problems described
above have been many and varied. Most of them are based on fisheries conventions,
international shipping conventions, or the large number of agreements
tied to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. At the same
time, institutional and organizational weaknesses in the countries of
the region, and the myriad authorities responsible for marine and coastal
management, make the implementation of policies a difficult task.
The following are among the most important multilateral agreements and
- The Convention on the Protection and Development
of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean ('The Cartagena Convention')
(1983) and its protocols (on oil spills and protected areas and land-based
- UNEP's Regional Seas Programme, and the international
project for the elimination of barriers to implement ballast water controls
and management measures for developing countries, proposed for the period
2000-2002 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
- The International Coral Reefs Action Network
(ICRAN), an important effort to halt the degradation of coral reefs,
which is supported by the United Nations Foundation (UNF).
- The Caribbean Planning for the Adaptation of
Global Climate Change (CPACC) project which assists the 12 Caribbean
CARICOM countries to prepare for the negative impacts of possible global
climate change, especially with respect to the rise in sea level, by
measuring their vulnerability and planning for the adaptation and development
of their capacity to deal with the problem.
Few of the conventions mentioned, however, have been in force long enough,
and with adequate established infrastructure, to assess their strengths
and weaknesses. It is clear, however, that regional environmental monitoring
processes need to be geared to assessing environmental conditions as well
as monitoring implementation activities designed to restore sustainability
of coastal and marine areas and their resources.