Trinidad and Tobago is leading the way in providing solutions to global environmental issues through multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs)
The country was the first small island state in the English-speaking Caribbean to submit contributions to the Paris Agreement, and are among the first to develop a monitoring, reporting and verification system, which is now being used as a case study for other countries.
“We were among the first to develop a just transition policy and an e-mobility policy that aims at looking at sustainable transport,” said Mr Kishan Kumarsingh, Head of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit, Trinidad and Tobago.
“So, we have been leading the way in many areas of implementing these multilateral environmental agreements that are now forming the template for emulation by other countries, and we are being looked upon and called upon to provide sometimes advice on how other countries can implement some of these obligations on the various MEAs.”
Trinidad and Tobago is a ratified signatory to many multilateral environmental agreements related to climate change, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Basel Convention, the Stockholm Convention, related to chemicals and waste and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
“(The country) recognises that it has to play a responsible part in contributing to the solutions of these global problems, enshrined in the various legal instruments and conventions and as a ratified party, with it comes obligations under these various conventions.
“So, we’re talking about national action for global benefit.”
“The obligations are being met through actions being taken and coordinated by the Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit at the Ministry of Planning and Development through project implementation with funding sourced from various multilateral donors and international funds.”
From as early as the 1970s, Trinidad and Tobago has been on board with the signing of agreements that help to correct some of the problems brought about by industrialisation. These agreements, (MEAs), involve the coming together of countries to decide on actions that they would take to clean up or improve areas of the environment.
For example, Trinidad and Tobago has signed on to protect the atmosphere. These conventions, such as the Montreal protocol, seek to address issues like the depletion of the ozone layer (the layer of the earth’s upper atmosphere that absorbs almost all of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays). This country is also a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, of which stabilising and combating the effects of greenhouse gases is the objective, and has signed on to protect land and biodiversity, preventing thousands of plants and animals from becoming extinct at a rapid rate.
Currently, our land is less fertile and with the loss of tree cover, top soil is being washed away, which leads to issues like flooding and reduced agricultural production.
These conventions also seek to protect water and waterways from contamination and regulate the transportation and disposal of chemicals.
Trinidad and Tobago continues to work on its ongoing commitments under its MEAs. Government has partnered with the private sector, non-governmental organisations and international bodies to do its part to mitigate environmental issues.
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