Friday, 21 September 2012

MEA Focal Point Sensitisation Session

The Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit (MEAU) of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources hosted a one day Sensitisation and Capacity Building Session on September 19, 2012 at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya. The purpose of the session was to sensitize all stakeholders from ministries, Government agencies, academic institutions, industry and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the MEAs under its purview.

Cross-section of the sensitisation session
The event was well attended by over 100 Focal Points, who are persons nominated to represent relevant stakeholders from the various sectors. In the Ministry’s endeavour to build a comprehensive Focal Point Network, the initial stage of engagement at this session was focused on raising awareness, sensitising and informing the stakeholders of the current MEAs and its Projects which are currently overseen by the MEAU. The Session also emphasised the importance of each Focal Point’s role in the success of environmental management from a holistic view to fulfil Trinidad and Tobago’s mandates and responsibilities under the Conventions it is signatory. 

The session commenced with introductory remarks by the Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Senator the Honourable Mr Ganga Singh and opening remarks by Head of the MEAU, Mr Kishan Kumarsingh, as well as the official launching of the MEA booklet for stakeholders. The day was then focused on an introduction to the various MEAs under the purview of the MEAU and several of the ongoing specialised projects which contribute toward the fulfilment of our national obligations. 

Senator the Honourable Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Mr Ganga Singh emphasises the importance of the focal point network and collaboration in achieving national results
Climate Change was first on the agenda with an introduction to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol, followed by a brief overview of two projects: Mainstreaming Climate Change into National Development and Capacity Building for Participation in Carbon Markets; and the Elaboration of a Strategy for the Reduction of Carbon Emissions in Trinidad and Tobago.

The National Ozone Unit also provided an overview on the Montreal Protocol and the projects currently being executed with its stakeholders. Subsequent to this, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and its Cartagena Protocol and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) were introduced, highlighting their national relevance and importance. Conventions that fall within the Waste and Chemicals cluster were also addressed, including the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions. An outline of the national project entitled Initial Assistance to Enable Trinidad and Tobago to fulfil its Obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) was then presented, followed by the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean Region, providing information on their responsibility and mandates as a Regional Centre.

A focus group sharing their views on the role of the focal points during the thematic discussions
Proceedings were then focused on interaction and feedback from the participants, with a working session that highlighted the MEAs within the national context for Sustainable Development. The participants were then separated into constituencies along the respective Convention themes that seemed to be a best fit for their organisation, and were allowed to express their views on the day’s events, provide feedback on a previously distributed survey and discuss any matters arising out of the Sensitisation Session. 

Focal point from the Tobago House of Assembly airing her concerns during one of the question and answer sessions throughout the day
The event proved very useful and will be followed up with engagement opportunities for the Focal Points. Further to this, the MEAU continues to increase and improve on the Focal Point Database and examine different methods for continued communication and capacity building. This is to ensure the success of this network and information exchange to foster comprehensive national communication at the Conventions to which Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory.

Below are the presentations and information from the MEA Focal Point Sensitisation Session:

Monday, 17 September 2012

25th Anniversary Celebration of the Montreal Protocol and Launch of NIHERST Ozone Awareness Display

The Montreal Protocol celebrates its 25th year of existence in September, 2012.  World Ozone Day is celebrated each year on September 16th.  The National Ozone Unit, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST) launched the Ozone Awareness Display at the NIHERST Science Centre on September 14, 2012 in commemoration of World Ozone Day and to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol. 

The Honourable Ganga Singh, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources was there to receive a commemorative plaque for Trinidad and Tobago’s important contribution to protecting the ozone layer.  The display serves to build awareness for children on both the damaging effects of chemicals (such as CFCs and HCFCs) on the ozone layer and how to protect themselves from harmful UV radiation from the sun as a result of the weakened ozone layer.

 Dr Marissa Gowrie presenting a token of appreciation to Ms Maureen Manchouck, President of NIHERST

Senator, The Honourable Minister Ganga Singh interacting with the Ozone Display
Ms Rosemary Lall (UNDP Representative)  presenting the Commemorative Plaque for the 25th Anniversary to the Minister

ICC 2012.. Cleaning up the coasts!

The International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) is a worldwide annual one-day volunteer event coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy geared toward pollution clean-up and pollution prevention. Since 1985, this event has become the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. Nearly nine million volunteers from 152 countries and locations have cleaned 145 million pounds of trash from the shores of lakes, streams, rivers, and the ocean on just one day each year. For more than a quarter of a century, volunteers with the ICC have picked up everything imaginable along the world's shorelines: cigarette butts, food wrappers, and even the proverbial kitchen sink.

Trinidad and Tobago has historically supported the International Coastal Clean-up endeavour of the Ocean Conservancy for many years, with the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources being a major sponsor. The date for this year’s event was Saturday September 15th, 2012. The various Divisions and Agencies of the Ministry all generously participated at various beaches around the country:
  • Environmental Policy and Planning Division (EPPD) and Green Fund – Harts Cut Bay, Chaguaramas
  • Environmental Management Authority (EMA) – Manzanilla Beach, Manzanilla
  • Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) – Marianna’s Bay, Blanchisseuse

Senator the Honourable Mr Ganga Singh participating in the coastal clean-up exercise at Harts Cut Bay, Chaguaramas
The Honourable Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh, a champion for the cause, also actively participated in the event at the Hart’s Cut venue with staffs of the EPPD, MEAU and Green Fund Executing Unit. The Ministry wishes to kindly acknowledge and thank the local organizer of the event, the Caribbean Network for Integrated Rural Development (CNIRD), all sponsors and site captains, and all the volunteers who participated in making this event such a huge success.
Hopefully these heaps will be smaller next year!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Third National CDM Capacity Building Workshop

Monitoring, validation and verification were the focus of the Third National Capacity Building Workshop on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in Trinidad and Tobago. The Workshop also featured the project participants of the first CDM project approved by the T&T DNA.

Mr Neil Bujun delivers a presentation on behalf of local CDM project developer, Petrotrin about the company's experiences and challenges with CDM
In collaboration with the UNEP Risø Centre, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources as the Trinidad and Tobago Designated National Authority (DNA) held the Capacity Building Workshop on September 12-13, 2012 at the Carlton Savannah Hotel, St Anns, Trinidad. 

The First and Second National Workshops held in 2011 sought to raise awareness of the various stages of the CDM project cycle, with this, the Third Workshop, focusing on the Validation, Verification and Monitoring stages. The training also covered work procedures of the Designated Operational Entity (DOE), CDM contract negotiations and legal issues, and an in-depth look at working methods of validators and verifiers.

The Third National Workshop aptly follows on the heels of the DNA's approval of the first CDM project in Trinidad and Tobago, which deals with the recovery and utilisation of associated gas from onshore and offshore oilfields in T&T. The project was developed by the Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Petrotrin) in partnership with TOSL Engineering Ltd who acts as the Coordinating/Managing Entity (CME) and is the second participant on the project. As such, the project participants were invited to share information about their project, as well as their experiences, challenges faced and how they overcame these issues.

To view an in-depth summary and the presentations delivered at the workshop, kindly click on the following link: CDM Third National Capacity Building Workshop 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

NBSAP Revision Workshop

The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) is the principal instrument for implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the national level. The strategy is a mechanism to ensure that biodiversity, its sustainable use and conservation is mainstreamed into the planning and activities of all those sectors whose activities can have an impact (positive and negative) on it.

The Regional Workshop for the Caribbean Region on Updating and Revising of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) was held at the Hyatt Regency, Trinidad during the period September 5th -7th, 2012. The Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting to the 11th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was subsequently held on September 8th, 2012 at the same venue.

Both sessions were attended by representatives from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources; these being Ms. Candace Amoroso, Biodiversity Specialist, Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit and Mr. Julius Smith Environmental Biologist, Environmental Policy and Planning Division.

The Regional Workshop was held to address various issues that countries in the Sub-region may have or will encounter when updating their NBSAPs. Specific problematic areas garnered focus, such as target setting, stakeholder engagement and the development of country-specific plans for mobilizing financial resources for the implementation of NBSAPs. 

The COP Preparatory Meeting, coordinated by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), was the first meeting of its kind in the Sub-region, aimed at establishing a common Caribbean position on major issues to be negotiated at the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP) in Hyderabad, India during October 2012. As such, the meeting would better enable the Sub-Region to prepare for meaningful participation at the COP.

Representatives from over 11 Caribbean countries attended both sessions, along with representatives from Governments, non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs), financial organisations, research institutions and tertiary education institutes.