SKN IS SIGNATORY TO A NUMBER OF CONVENTIONS TO SAFEGUARD THE ENVIRONMENT

Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 07, 2019 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis has signed on to a number of conventions in order to safeguard its environment says, Director in the Department of Environment, June Hughes, who spoke to a number of them on Wednesday’s (June 05) edition of “Working for You”.

One of the conventions named was the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She stated that the convention deals with the “issues of climate change and how we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming.”

According to its official website, the UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 197 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention.

The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Its sister Rio Conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification. The three are intrinsically linked. It is in this context that the Joint Liaison Group was set up to boost cooperation among the three Conventions, with the ultimate aim of developing synergies in their activities on issues of mutual concern. It now also incorporates the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Another convention mentioned was the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is an international legally binding United Nations treaty to deliver national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Its three main goals are the conservation of biodiversity; the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

“You would read in the media that our biodiversity is rapidly declining,” said Mrs. Hughes. “Everything has an impact and once you remove certain biodiversity from life stream or from this planet, it has an impact. So we have to preserve our biodiversity whether it be a simple bug or an elephant. We, humankind, have been so horrible to this planet because we destroy everything we touch.”

Mrs. Hughes also cited the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.

“After the explosion happened after World War II where people decided to use [Chlorofluorocarbon] CFCs for cooling, for air-conditioning and it even went into vehicles, it was realized that when the fridge broke down it would release gas out of the fridge and it was damaging the Ozone Layer and that lead to cataracts, skin cancers, degradation of plastics, harmed the genetics of plants, and so one. So they had to fix that one. The Montreal Protocol then came about. It has been a fairly successful convention,” said the director.

Also mentioned was the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

“The impact of humankind and our overpopulation, has led to erosion and degradation of our coastlines, “said Mrs. Hughes. “This one has multiple players in it. So they have come up with a convention to address how to reduce degradation on the planet.”

St. Kitts and Nevis has also signed on to Basel Convention, which handles the transboundary movement of hazardous waste,” she said.

“We have the biosafety protocol which talks about GMOs and whether we can import what is in our food,” said Mrs. Hughes.

The Director of the Department of Environment stated that there are many others and all of them are important to both islands.

“At some point or the other the environment impacts us and we have to have responses locally on each and every one of them,” she said.