Gov’t to Establish Committee for ‘Trash-Free Waters’ Initiative

Photo: JIS Photographer International soldiers clearing garbage from the shoreline along the Palisadoes strip earlier this year.

Story Highlights

  • The Government will shortly establish a multi-stakeholder committee to oversee the pilot implementation of the ‘Trash-Free Waters’ initiative that aims to curtail the pollution of the Caribbean Sea.
  • The Trash-Free Waters initiative, which was launched in Jamaica in August, is a joint undertaking between the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United Nations Environmental Programme, through the Caribbean Environmental Programme.
  • Countries across the Caribbean will benefit from the initiative, which aims to reduce the extent of marine pollution caused by the disposal of solid waste and other land-based litter within their territorial waters.

The Government will shortly establish a multi-stakeholder committee to oversee the pilot implementation of the ‘Trash-Free Waters’ initiative that aims to curtail the pollution of the Caribbean Sea.

This was announced by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, during a sitting of the Senate on October 7.

The Trash-Free Waters initiative, which was launched in Jamaica in August, is a joint undertaking between the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United Nations Environmental Programme, through the Caribbean Environmental Programme.

Countries across the Caribbean will benefit from the initiative, which aims to reduce the extent of marine pollution caused by the disposal of solid waste and other land-based litter within their territorial waters.

Senator Johnson Smith, who is also Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, said Jamaica and Panama were selected for pilots during the 2015 staging of the Institute of Electrical and

Electronics Engineers Oceanic Engineering Society’s ‘Our Oceans’ conference in Chile.

She said the committee being established to oversee the project’s implementation will comprise representatives of the Government, private sector, academia and civil society, among others.

Among the earmarked engagements which the Minister said are slated to be undertaken is a “robust” public-education campaign focusing on “effective” solid-waste management, “and the reduction and eventual elimination of the use of plastics”.

She assured that the Administration was committed to a holistic approach in managing solid waste, particularly non-biodegradable materials such as styrofoam containers and plastic bags and bottles, “thereby ensuring that we secure the environment for present and future generations”.

Senator Johnson Smith argued that this would also require the inputs of various stakeholders across the wider society, pointing out that “governmental and
non-governmental agents must be part of the change process”.

This, the Minister argued, entailed “changing the views of our children, our families and our communities as well as ensuring that we change our own practices as we (Government) address the legislative and policy components”.

“I want to add my personal commitment to the behavioural changes that are necessary. It is clear that behavioural change will be at the heart of this (improved waste management) and the human element must be part of the considerations,’ she added.

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