UN needs to work more closely with societies to achieve environment goals — UN rep

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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Efforts to protect the environment and the ocean took centre stage earlier this month as millions of people worldwide celebrated World Environment Day and World Oceans Day on June 5 and 8, respectively.

International conferences in New York and Costa Rica, held to coincide with these commemorative days, encouraged high-level political commitment and partnerships.

Coordinator of the United Nations (UN) Environment's Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) based in Kingston, Jamaica, Dr Lorna Inniss who attended both conferences, felt that, “For Wider Caribbean governments to continue to benefit sustainably from our coastal and marine resources and to develop new marine-based economic opportunities, UN agencies need to work more closely together with governments, donors, civil society and the private sector, to ensure win-win opportunities for both the environment and our economies.”

Such collaboration was evident to some extent in Jamaica, where the UN Environment CEP office and the Caribbean Sub-Regional Office (CSRO) hosted a series of awareness-raising activities for both observances.

UN Environment showcased successes, challenges, and opportunities through social media, radio,

television and public events, to help people connect with nature as per the theme for World

Environment Day. These included:

• Invitations to the public to share pledges on how they can protect the environment;

• Videos on the importance of the ocean by students from Hydel Preparatory and High

schools, St Andrew High School for Girls, and staff of the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary;

• Photo competitions on the environment and the reuse of wastewater;

• Airing of environmental videos on national television stations;

• Interviews with UN Environment staff on national and regional radio stations regarding the importance of environmental protection.

“I am extremely pleased and encouraged by the level of support we received from the public and, in particular, the private sector for our awareness raising efforts,” said Christopher Corbin, pollution and communications officer for UN Environment's Caribbean Environment Programme, who coordinated activities in Jamaica.

“The recognition, by everyone who took part, of the need to improve, for example, our waste management practices and to consider alternatives to single-use plastics, indicated that environmental awareness is growing, and this must now be supported by practical solutions to the many challenges being faced,” he continued.

The highlight event organised by UN Environment was a 'Be Plastic Aware' shopping challenge that focused on reducing plastic pollution in Jamaica. Through a partnership with several private sector and non-governmental organisations, the challenge helped raise consumer awareness on the importance of managing the use and disposal of plastics.

Outside of the global observances, UN Environment, through its two offices in Jamaica, reported that it is working to implement national and community-based solutions.

For one, the CSRO is working with the Government of Jamaica to develop a plastic waste management initiative, which is to be launched next month.

“This initiative aims to not only raise awareness on the negative impacts of improper plastic disposal, but encourage business opportunities for the recycling of plastics on a larger scale within the country, and to help to promote policies that improve the management of plastics — including collection and incentives for plastic waste disposal,” Vincent Sweeney, head of the UN Environment CSRO, reported.

The second initiative coordinated by UN Environment Caribbean Environment Programme is a trash-free partnership involving the United States Environmental Protection Agency, US Peace Corps,and the governments of Panama and Jamaica. It is expected to promote community-based approaches for reducing garbage; raising awareness of the negative impacts of solid waste, plastics and marine litter; and most importantly identifying and implementing practical and sustainable solutions for solid-waste management.




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