In today’s globalized world, environmental threats require sustainable responses that promote peace, justice, development and the fulfilment of environmental and human rights. Environmental governance includes policy, rules and norms that govern human behaviour and addresses who makes decisions, how decisions are made and implemented, the scientific information needed for decision-making and how the public and major stakeholders can participate. This is essential to achieve sustainable development and to protect the environment.

Given the complexity of the marine environment, the variety of related activities and threats, and overlapping jurisdictions in the Wider Caribbean Region, there is a need for transboundary cooperation and effective governance arrangements. In that regard, international ocean governance attempts to manage the use of the ocean and its resources in a way that ensures its health, productivity, and resilience. 

The Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans provide unique platforms for the regional and synergistic implementation of programmes and activities related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) dealing with marine issues. The Strategic Directions of the Regional Seas Programme call for an increase in the role of Regional Seas to serve as platforms for developing common regional objectives, promoting synergies and coordinating the regional implementation of relevant MEAs, as a contribution to the sustainable development of coastal and marine areas.

Within the Region, the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region [1] (Cartagena Convention) is the only legally binding agreement of its kind and has been ratified by 26 Contracting Parties. It covers the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the areas of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent thereto and is supported by  its three technical agreements or protocols concerning Oil Spills, Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) and Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS). Several related MEAs exist at the global level which the Cartagena Convention supports. 

[1] The Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) comprises the insular and coastal States and Territories with coasts on the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, as well as waters of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to these States and Territories and includes 28 island and continental countries.

Photocredit: Christopher Corbin

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