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Cartagena Convention & Protocols


In March 1983, a conference of Plenipotentiaries met in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, and adopted the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention). Entered into force on 11 October 1986, this legal instrument for the implementation of the Caribbean Action Program provides an umbrella agreement for the protection and development of the marine environment. The three protocols supporting the Convention are the Oil Spill Protocol, the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Protocol (SPAW), and the Land Based Spills Protocol (LBS).

The Oil Spill Protocol was adopted and entered into force concurrently with the Cartagena Convention. It calls for cooperation in taking all necessary measures, both preventive and remedial, for the protection of the marine environment from oil spill incidents and places an obligation on Contracting Parties to establish and maintain, or ensure the establishment and maintenance of, the means to respond to oil spill incidents. The enactment of legislation as well as the preparation of contingency plans is included in such means. The Contracting Parties to the Convention extended the Oil Spill Protocol to include hazardous or toxic substances. For more information, please download the protocol here.

The Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP CAR/RCU) serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica. To assist countries of the Wider Caribbean in implementing these various Protocols, supporting Regional Activity Centres have been developed. These Centres are based in Curacao (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC), Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW), Cuba (Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) and Trinidad & Tobago (Institute of Marine Affairs).