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The Cartegena Convention and its protocols

Cartagena Convention chart

About the Cartagena Convention
The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR), also known as the Cartagena Convention, is a regional agreement for the protection of the Caribbean Sea that is legally binding on its signatories. The Convention, which was adopted in Cartagena, Colombia on 24 March 1983 and entered into force on 11 October 1986, is supported by three Protocols (technical agreements):

The Cartegena Convention's Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU), which is the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols, is located in Kingston, Jamaica. The Convention has been ratified by 26 U.N. Member States in the Wider Caribbean Region and encompasses the marine environment in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and adjacent areas of the Atlantic Ocean, including The Bahamas.

The Convention covers various sources of marine pollution for which member countries (Contracting Parties) must develop and implement specific pollution control measures. Contracting Parties to the Convention must also conserve and protect environmentally sensitive areas and the habitats of depleted, threatened or endangered species, as wll as develop technical guidelines for use in coastal development planning and oversight of the environmental impact assessment process for high-impact development projects.

The types of pollution addressed by the Cartagena Convention include:

  • Pollution from ships
  • Pollution caused by the dumping of garbage and other wastes
  • Pollution from sea-bed (dredging and mining) activities
  • Airborne pollution
  • Pollution from land-based sources and activities

Finally, the Cartagena Convention coordinates with and supports the objectives of global environmental conventions and agreements, such as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), MARPOL Convention on ship-generated wastes, Agenda 21, and the Barbados Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Programme of Action.

The national commitments of Contracting Parties (signatories) to the three Cartagena Convention protocols have resulted in national-level legal obligations that each member country must fulfill, integrating the objectives of protocols into national legislation and creating specific regulatory requirements and legal bases for enforcement.

To learn more about the Cartagena Convention and its protocols, see https://www.unenvironment.org/cep/who-we-are/cartagena-convention.

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