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Nine Caribbean countries launch journey towards a chemical-free environment

October 5, 2021

Falmouth Harbor landscape in Antigua
Photo credit: Przemyslaw Skibinski/Shutterstock

Nine Caribbean nations have joined forces in the fight for a toxic-free future for the region, with the launch of the $11 million Caribbean ISLANDS project today.

Together, the countries are set to eliminate over 400 tonnes of contaminated material and avoid the release of more than 150,000 tonnes of marine litter.

At the virtual launch event, representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Saint Kitt and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago expressed their commitment to working together, sharing best practice, and delivering a common message on the need to soundly manage and dispose of harmful chemicals and materials in Caribbean Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).

The Caribbean initiative is one of six regional projects being backed by the Global Environment Facility and partners under the $515 million program Implementing Sustainable Low and Non-Chemical Development in Small Island Developing States (ISLANDS).

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, stressed that small island countries face significant environmental challenges, and need support as stewards of precious ecosystems including large swathes of ocean.

“Building the capacity of large-ocean, small-island developing states to safely manage and dispose of toxic and pollutant substances is crucial for the healthy future for people of the Caribbean and for the environment,” he said.

Led by the UN Environment Programme, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Inter-American Development Bank, the ISLANDS program is supporting 33 SIDS across the Atlantic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean to develop sustainably without a build-up of toxic and hazardous substances in their territories.

The Caribbean is the first region to launch the program, under which it will focus on circular economy approaches to the management of e-waste, end-of-life vehicles and plastics, as well as the environmentally sound phasing-out of harmful chemicals and materials. ISLANDS will also support SIDS to develop policies to control the import of chemicals, materials, and products that lead to the generation of hazardous waste.

Two parallel ISLANDS Caribbean projects, the ISLANDS Caribbean Incubator Facility supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, and the ISLANDS Caribbean II project supported by UNEP, will be launched in 2022.

“The BCRC-Caribbean project will actively engage a full range of stakeholders, from global chemicals and waste specialists to policymakers and influencers – and from local entrepreneurs, small businesses to big industry,” said Jewel Batchasingh, the Director of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean (BCRC-Caribbean), the entity executing the project in the region.

A global coordination, communication, and knowledge management project, managed by the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP), connects the regional ISLANDS projects and will help maximize the collective impact of the country and regional projects, with coordinated outreach campaigns and active exchange of the latest learning and know-how. 


The Implementing Sustainable Low and Non-Chemical Development in Small Island Developing States (ISLANDS) program is a $515 million, five-year initiative backed by the Global Environment Facility and partners, and implemented with the support of the UN Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the Inter-American Development Bank. Participating countries include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cabo Verde, Cook Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Union of Comoros, and Vanuatu.

About the Global Environment Facility

The GEF is the largest multilateral trust fund focused on enabling developing countries to invest in nature. It supports the implementation of international environmental conventions on biodiversity, climate change, chemicals, and desertification. Since its establishment 30 years ago, the GEF has provided $21.5 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $117 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 projects and programs.

About BCRC Caribbean

The Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean (BCRC-Caribbean) aims to support Contracting Caribbean Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions with implementing their international obligations to sustainably manage wastes and chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment. Support is provided through technical assistance and capacity building. Headquartered in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the BCRC-Caribbean works with Caribbean governments and other national, regional and international public and private sector stakeholders. The Centre works with its partners to execute national and regional waste and chemicals management projects, facilitate training and information dissemination to Parties, and raise public awareness.

About UN Environment Programme

UN Environment Programme is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment Programme works with governments, the private sector, civil society, and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

This was originally published by the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership.