Thursday, 3 October 2019

International Coastal Clean-up 2019

Volunteers and EPPD staff proudly posed for a photo at the end of a successful ICC 2019 

International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) 2019

Another year, another successful International Coastal Clean-up (ICC)!

From L-R, His Excellency Arend Biesebroek, (Ambassador to the EU Delegation T&T), Ms. Keima Gardiner (Waste Management Specialist) and Mr. Fazeer Mohammed on the TV6 Morning Edition programme. 

In preparation for the ICC, the Ministry of Planning and Development in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago participated in the Morning Edition television programme, to raise awareness on the thirty-third (33rd) anniversary of this worldwide data collection initiative.
Volunteers remove waste at the Foreshore
Trinidad and Tobago has been an active participant in this venture for the past seventeen (17) years, and on Saturday 21st September, 2019 the combined Ministry and EU team took part in this year's ICC at the Foreshore, off the Audrey Jeffers Highway, Port of Spain, which was one (1) of thirty (30) sites cleaned in Trinidad and Tobago.
The ICC is the largest, annual global volunteer initiative aimed at removing discarded material and debris from waterways and the marine environment, in an effort to restore its integrity. A whopping 220 volunteers came out to the Foreshore to bear the initial sweltering heat, to participate in this year’s exercise.
As the day unavoidably came to an end due to the inclement weather, a still impressive 2090 lbs of garbage and marine debris were removed from the Foreshore coastline. The most popular items found were plastic bags, plastic utensils (forks, knives, spoons), beverage bottles and tiny plastic pieces. 
The most unusual items picked up were quite expansive, ranging from a headboard to bike handles, refrigerator parts and even a hair dryer.
Overall, the day was an eventful one, albeit cut short due to the sudden storm that rolled in. The day was filled with most importantly, data collection followed by rain baths, a singular bee sting, in-house garbage hauling and even birthday celebrations.

Photos below show some of the EU's and EPPD's staff, volunteers and trash collected at ICC 2019

Monday, 26 August 2019

Meetings of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Conferences of the Parties, 2019

The protection of human health and the environment, through the environmentally sound management (ESM) of hazardous materials is the common objective of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, commonly known as the BRS Conventions. The 2019 Meetings of the COPs to the BRS Conventions were held in Geneva, Switzerland from April 29th - May 10th, 2019. Trinidad and Tobago participated as a Party to these three (3) multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in the chemicals and waste cluster and was represented by Ms. Keima Gardiner, Waste Management Specialist, Environmental Policy and Planning Division (EPPD), Ministry of Planning and Development; Head of Delegation, Mr Hasmath Ali, Ministry of Health; and Mr. Wayne Rajkumar, of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

Approximately 1,400 delegates from 180 countries spent two (2) tedious weeks negotiating towards the adoption of several decisions. These decisions included the topical issue of plastic pollution as exhibited through the landmark decision to increase the cross-border control of low-quality plastic waste, and the establishment of a global Partnership on Plastic Waste under the Basel Convention, the global treaty that deals with the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal. Locally, this decision would be effected through the EMA, the National Competent Authority under the Basel Convention.

There was also the listing of two (2) new toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) under Annex A of the Stockholm Convention: Dicofol, a pesticide (production of which is primarily in India and is expected to cease soon) and perflorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and related compounds. PFOA is used for non-stick kitchenware, surface treatments in textiles, paper and paints and in fire-fighting foams. Annex A listing means that all Parties are to take all measures to eliminate the production and use of these POPs. Once endorsed, Trinidad and Tobago's National Implementation Plan on POPs will work towards achieving this.

Under the Rotterdam Convention, there was the historic adoption of a Compliance Mechanism, 15 years after the Convention's entry into force, via a majority vote of 120-6. Trinidad and Tobago was one (1) of twenty (20) countries in the ‘Friends of the President’ group established to initially resolve this issue by consensus. There was also the listing of two (2) new chemicals: phorate, a toxic pesticide and the industrial chemical hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), which means these would now be subject to the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure to promote information exchange between countries engaged in its trade. Locally, the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Inspectorate and the Environmental Policy and Planning Division would be responsible for this process.

On the invitation of the BCRC Caribbean, Ms. Keima Gardiner presented on behalf of the Caribbean SIDS at a side event on ‘Bringing the Benefits of BRS Conventions to SIDS’. The delegation also took the opportunity to pay a visit to Her Excellency, Permanent Representative, Ambassador Makeda Antoine-Cambridge at the Permanent Mission of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, Geneva.

T&T Representative (L-R) - Mr. Wayne Rajkumar, Ms. Keima Gardiner and Mr. Hasmath Ali
Ms. Keima Gardiner (front, centre) representing T&T in the 'Friends of the President Group'
Ms. Keima Gardiner presenting on 'Bringing the Benefits of BRS Conventions to SIDS'

Tuesday, 13 August 2019


On Monday August 12th, 2019 the Central Statistical Office (CSO) in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organisation Food of the United Nations (FAO/UN) held a media launch of the Socio-Economic Survey of the communities surrounding the six (6) pilot protected areas (PPAs) under the project. These PPAs are the Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago, the proposed North-East Tobago Marine Protected Area, Matura Forest and coastal zone, Trinity Hills and eastern extension, Nariva Swamp and coastal zone and Caroni Swamp.

The socio-economic assessment is part FAO-GEF Project “Improving Forest and Protected Areas Management in Trinidad and Tobago” and seeks to examine the interactions between the PPAs and the members of communities who live in and around six pilot PPAs.  The study will examine their socioeconomic attributes, reliance on PPAs for various needs (if any) and opportunities for sustaining and enhancing income opportunities through biodiversity-related ecosystem services.  Earlier in the project, an Information Needs Assessment was conducted to identify available information to contribute to the conduct of the socioeconomic assessment, to propose a methodology for data gathering and evaluation and prepare a detailed work plan for the implementation of the assessment.

The CSO will perform the field surveys, aided by a team of technical experts who will provide support to the CSO to execute the field work (using the methodology and work plan referenced above) and to draft a narrative socioeconomic report based on the information identified in the Information Needs Assessment and the field work of the CSO.

The launch of the event featured addresses by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Development, Ms. Ayleen Ovid; FAO Representative for Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname Mr Reuben Robertson, Director of the CSO Mr Sean O'Brien and Senior Statistician of the CSO, Ms Ava Mahabir-Dass.
Training also began on Monday 12th, August for the enumerators who will soon be engaged in the Socio-Economic Survey of selected communities near protected areas in Trinidad and Tobago". This 2-week training exercise is being held at the CSO, Training Room, Port-of-Spain.

Director of CSO , Mr Sean O'Brien addresses the audience

(L-R) Director of CSO Mr Sean O'Brien; Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning and Development, Ms. Ayleen Ovid; FAO Representative for Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, Mr Reuben Robertson and Senior Statistician of the CSO, Ms Ava Mahabir-Dass

Survey enumerators undergoing training