Caribbean countries must collaborate to protect regional resources
- Chandarpal

Stabroek News
July 17, 2000

The countries of the wider Caribbean need to pool their efforts to safeguard the resources of the region because they cannot depend wholly on the developed countries for support.

This was the contention of Presidential Adviser on Science, Technology and the Environment, Navin Chandarpal, in his address to participants of the national meeting on the Cartagena Convention and its protocols held Thursday at the Ocean View International Hotel Convention Centre.

Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rita Ramlall, who made the opening remarks at the meeting, described the Convention as critical, noting that it sought to address issues related to pollution from ships, dumping, sea bed activities, and the adoption of measures to ensure the protection and recovery of threatened flora and fauna.

The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean (Cartagena Convention) was adopted in 1983. Its protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife was adopted in 1990, and that of Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities was adopted last year.

The Caribbean Environment Programme, headquartered in Jamaica, is the regional organ of the larger United Nations Environment Programme and has been assisting the countries in the region in the implementation of the Convention.

One of the objectives of the meeting was for the Guyana government to ratify the Cartagena Convention and its protocols.

Chandarpal stated that while the developed countries continue to manipulate international relations to the detriment of developing countries, the smaller countries could no longer expect handouts, and must combine forces to move the process forward.

Chandarpal deplored the lack of action by countries on programmes that have been initiated. He recalled that a review was done last year on the United Nations (UN) Conference on Small Island Developing States held in 1994 and it was found that little progress had been made on the programme.

Similarly, attempts were made to identify and examine the constraints on the implementation of proposals coming out of the 1992 Rio `Earth Summit' with the same results.

He pointed out that developing countries were willing to move ahead with the programmes but were at a disadvantage because of a lack of resources and it was clear that it would be difficult to access funds for the purpose as was promised at Rio.

At the Rio Summit a resolution was made that the developed countries would set aside 0.7% of their gross domestic product which would go towards direct assistance for developing countries in the area of environment. This was not implemented but Chandarpal said steps are being made to correct this.

He declared that developing countries must not dwell on the attitude of the developed countries who did not stand by their word. The smaller countries have to work together to achieve their objectives, he implored.

The Convention and other regional mechanisms could be used as a means to achieve this end.

He recalled also that two major programmes undertaken by Caribbean nations ended up with mixed results. The Caribbean Programme for the Adaptation to Climate Change is being implemented successfully and Guyana has recognised the "tremendous" benefits to be derived, he said.

On the other hand, the programme on ship-generated waste failed to get off the ground mainly because two international agencies responsible for its execution could not get their act together. Opportunities of this nature need to be taken advantage of, he stated.

Chandarpal described the meeting Thursday as a somewhat strange activity because Guyana has, in many ways, been conducting activities which fall within the parameters of the Convention.

He stated that the Convention was an important one since it addressed issues which will protect the well-being of the people in the wider Caribbean region.

There were two developments which were of special interest to the Caribbean region, Chandarpal disclosed. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution which sought to promote the sustainable utilisation of the Caribbean Sea's resources. At the assembly the motion was put forward for the Caribbean Sea to be given special area status. This was met with much opposition from the industrialised countries such as France, Britain and Japan, Chandarpal noted. These countries transport radioactive waste through the region and wanted to protect their self-interest, he stated.

As a result, a modified version of the resolution was passed which committed the UN to a system of integrated management of the resources of the Caribbean Sea.

Chandarpal expressed the hope that the activities related to the Convention would equip the Caribbean countries to grapple with the task ahead. He said the countries needed to fulfill their obligations so that they could press their demands at the next UN General Assembly.

Meanwhile, Ramlall observed that Guyana saw a role for the Convention in its quest for sustainable development.

The Caribbean Sea is a source of livelihood for the peoples of the region, she stated, noting that it facilitated activities such as fishing, transportation, tourism, and offshore oil exploration.

The integrated management approach to the Caribbean Sea is intended to secure compatibility among the marine-related activities and to incorporate the necessary conservation measures, she said.

Guyana has always been consistent in its support for environmentally-friendly initiatives, Ramlall said.

2001 phone book work to get underway shortly Work is set to commence on the development of Guyana's 2001 directory which will contain additional features, coupled with the 12,000 or so new lines anticipated to be distributed this year.

The new directory, which will have the theme `Let Them See You', will see Guyenterprise Advertising Agency collaborating with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd (GT&T) to produce the tenth edition of the annual numbers' listing.

Speaking at the launching, Chief Executive Officer of GT&T, Sonita Jagan, stated that work on the 2001 phone book had to begin now so that all the changes that needed to be effected could be completed.

The telephone company head alluded to the fact that with the change to the new seven-digit plan work had to be done to ensure that all the new numbers were included.

Jagan also stated that with the company hoping to increase its service by some 12,000 lines there would be need for these to be included in the new listings.

Also speaking at the event was the phone company's Deputy General Manager, Terry Holder, who disclosed that the new edition was expected to come out in March next year. This, he added, was to allow for the reconciliation of all the necessary data and to get away from the rush of the Christmas holidays which has troubled the printers over the years. He appealed to members of the business community and subscribers to cooperate with the team preparing the directory to ensure that it was as authentic as possible.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who was invited to give brief remarks, stated that the development of the GT&T directory over the years has illustrated the growth made in the country over the period of its circulation.

He welcomed the commitment by the phone company to install 12,000 new lines, but said he had hoped this number could have been greater.

The afternoon programme was chaired by head of Guyenterprise, Vic Insanally.

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