Monday, 17 June 2019

GRULAC Preparatory Meeting for the 2019 Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Conference of the Parties

The Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 2019 Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Conference of the Parties (COPs) was held in Montevideo, Uruguay from March 27th-30th, 2019. Trinidad and Tobago participated as a Party to the three (3) multilateral environmental agreements in the chemicals and waste cluster: the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, which are commonly referred to as the BRS Conventions. The country was represented by Ms. Keima Gardiner, Waste Management Specialist, Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit, Environmental Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Planning and Development. The Ministry of Planning and Development serves as the Focal Point to these Conventions.

The aim of the regional preparatory meeting was to provide the GRULAC Parties with an opportunity to consult with each other in advance of the meetings of the triple BRS COPs, identify regional priorities and challenges, consider meeting documents and discuss substantive matters with an aim of arriving at regional positions in advance of the COPs.

The meeting was attended by a total of ninety-one (91) participants, including sixty (60) representatives from twenty-six (26) Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) countries. The agenda of the Preparatory Meeting comprised of a three (3) day session on a range of topics, inclusive of a small ceremony to commemorate the thirtieth (30th) anniversary of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal.

Under the joint BRS session, the main topics of discussion were on technical assistance and the Basel and Stockholm Convention Regional Centres, of which Trinidad and Tobago is the host country for the Basel Convention Regional Centre for the Caribbean region. Discussions also centred on the two (2) chemicals under consideration for listing to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs); PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds, and dicofol, and those proposed for listing under the Rotterdam Convention, namely: acetochlor, hexabromocyclododecane, phorate, carbosulfan, chrysotile asbestos, fenthion and paraquat formulations. Under the Basel Convention, the key issues related to marine litter and plastic waste, household waste, the technical guidelines on POPs, e-wastes, mercury wastes and landfills, and the Ban Amendment which was established to prevent disposal of hazardous wastes in specified territories.

There was a also a Gender Training Workshop and an Information Session on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, held in conjunction with the preparatory meeting. The objective of the interactive Gender Training Workshop was to improve understanding of gender, promote mainstreaming and describe how it contributes to the sound management of chemicals and waste, as well as to catalyse implementation of the BRS Gender Action Plan. During the information session on the Minamata Convention on Mercury participants were apprised about the emerging technical, policy and financial issues under the Minamata Convention. 

Ms. Keima Gardiner - T&T's representative at the 2019 GRULAC Preparatory Meeting
GRULAC Delegates at the Regional Preparatory Meeting
The Caribbean Contingent at the GRULAC Preparotory Meeting - Ms Keima Gardiner (2nd from right)

Friday, 14 June 2019

Fourth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the highest decision making body on environmental matters in the UN system. It comprises all 193 UN Member States, Major Groups and other relevant stakeholders. Member States engage in formal preparatory discussions under the framework of the Open-Ended Meetings of the Committee of Permanent Representatives in preparation for the agenda of the UNEA. The Committee of Permanent Representatives also provides advice to the Assembly on policy matters, prepares decisions for adoption by the UNEA and oversees its implementation.

The fourth meeting of the Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR-4) was held during the period March 4th-8th 2019, at the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), Kenya. It served as the main intergovernmental preparatory meeting for the fourth session of UNEA (UNEA-4), which was also held at the UNON, Kenya from 11th-15th March, 2019. There was also a High-Level Ministerial segment from March 14th-15th, 2019.

Trinidad and Tobago was represented by the Honourable Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development (MPD), and Ms. Keima Gardiner, Waste Management Specialist, MPD.  The Honourable Minister delivered Trinidad and Tobago’s national statement following the official opening ceremony of the High-Level Ministerial segment. Additionally, as part of the launch of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Waste Management Outlook, Ms. Gardiner was invited to represent the Caribbean SIDS on the panel for the event.

UNEA-4 was the largest Assembly thus far with participation from five (5) Heads of State and Government, 157 Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and approximately 5,000 participants from 179 countries. The gathering provided high level interaction and discussion on the theme “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production” and addressed the following three (3) focus areas:
i. environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management, which included sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss;
ii. life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management; and
iii. innovative sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological change.

Following deliberations over two (2) weeks on an initial list of thirty-six (36) resolutions, and three (3) draft decisions, by the closing plenary, twenty-three (23) resolutions and three (3) decisions addressing global environmental issues were adopted at the Assembly. These reflect the ambitious goals on the global environmental agenda, with noteworthy resolutions including those on marine litter and microplastics, single-use plastics, curbing food loss and waste, sustainable nitrogen management, mineral resource governance and promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in environmental governance.

At UNEA-4, Trinidad and Tobago was one (1) of three (3) countries that declared an interest in becoming a member of the UN Environment’s Clean Seas Campaign, which aims to fight against marine plastic pollution, bringing the total number of members to sixty (60) countries worldwide.

Honourable Minister Camille Robinson-Regis presents at UNEA-4 High Level Ministerial Segment

T&T Delegates at UNEA-4 - Honourable Minister Camille Robinson-Regis (right) and Ms Keima Gardiner (left)

Ms Gardiner represents Caribbean SIDS at the launch of the Waste Management Outlook

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May

The United Nations has proclaimed May 22, The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

This year’s celebrations focus on biodiversity as the foundation for our food and health and a key catalyst to transforming food systems and improving human health.

The theme of 2019 ‘Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health’ aims to leverage knowledge and spread awareness of the dependency of our food systems, nutrition, and health on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. The theme also celebrates the diversity provided by our natural systems for human existence and well-being on Earth, while contributing to other Sustainable Development Goals, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, ecosystems restoration, cleaner water and zero hunger, among others.

For further information on IDB 2019, please visit: