UNEP CEP celebrates World Envirornment, Oceans days

Last week the world commemorated two events which were very important to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) — World Environment Day, on June 5 and World Oceans Day on June 8.

The themes for this year urge global collective responsibility in reducing global food waste and protecting the ocean.

UNEP is encouraging countries in the wider Caribbean region to take steps to reduce marine pollution and protect coastal and marine biodiversity. (PHOTO: AP

In the spirit of the theme for World Oceans Day — “together we have the power to protect the ocean” — UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) encourages countries in the wider Caribbean region to take steps to reduce marine pollution and protect coastal and marine biodiversity.

Eighty-five per cent of the wastewater which enters the Caribbean Sea is untreated, and approximately 80 per cent of living coral in the reefs have been lost in the past 20 years. Therefore, there needs to be a joint effort in preserving the marine environment on which the region depends for tourism and fisheries.

Through the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities (LBS Protocol), Oil Spills Protocol and the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol), UNEP CEP aims to make Caribbean nationals aware of the serious threat to marine and coastal resources, as well as human life, as a result of these sources of pollution. UNEP CEP also stresses the importance of protecting mangroves and fisheries.

Oceans not only generate income and provide recreational activities for the region’s people, but are also a rich resource from which the region gets its food.

In celebration of World Environment Day’s theme: Think. Eat. Save. Reduce your foodprint, UNEP CEP exhibited promotional and awareness-raising material at the University of the West Indies (Mona Campus) where Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica, in collaboration with the departments of chemistry and physics, launched a waste-to-fuel for energy diversification project on World Environment Day, June 5.

Persons from marginalised communities, students from primary and secondary schools, as well as the university, and experts in the energy field attending the launch visited the UNEP CEP booth where information was disseminated about the organisation’s work in the region, and material related to this year’s World Environment Day theme was displayed.

Globally, food waste is a serious problem. Every year, 1.3 billion tonnes of food (1/3 of all food produced globally) gets lost or wasted in food production. In the wider Caribbean region, which consists of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, the food wasted on an annual basis could feed 300 million people.

Executive director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, says food waste “is an ethical, economic and environmental issue given the enormous waste of energy, water, fertilisers and other inputs as a result of food that is produced but never eaten. Each one of us can do something about this and that’s why, through the Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign, we invite people across the world to join us in an effort to both raise awareness and to take practical actions, whether in your home, whether on your farm, whether in the supermarket, in a canteen, in a hotel or anywhere else where food is prepared and consumed”.

UNEP CEP encourages persons to think about actions they can take to improve their environment, not just on World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, but throughout the year.