Nov 30, 2009

Wastewater Experts Meet in Cuba to Develop Plans for Reducing Pollution of Caribbean Sea by Sewage

Four-Day Regional Wastewater Management Workshop Held in Havana

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme, in collaboration with the Government of Cuba, and the Regional Activity Centre for the Land-Based Sources of Marine Pollution Protocol Centre for Engineering and Management of Coasts and Bays, hosted a four-day regional wastewater management workshop at Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, Cuba.

"This Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded workshop is part of ongoing efforts by UNEP to assist regional governments in overcoming technical and financial barriers to improving the management of domestic wastewater, 70% of which enters the Caribbean Sea untreated," said Christopher Corbin, Programme officer at UNEP's Caribbean Environment Programme. Corbin further noted that the workshop is expected to attract more than 35 government participants from 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including representatives from regional agencies involved in wastewater management, such as the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute, Caribbean Water and Wastewater Assn. and the Pan American Health Organization.

The objectives of the workshop were to discuss the final results and experiences in the implementation of the GEF-funded project, “Innovative Approaches for Heavily Contaminated Bays in the Wider Caribbean;” share lessons learned in the environmental rehabilitation of Havana Bay and its watersheds; and present national and regional case studies and results of the impacts of wastewater discharges on coastal and marine resources.

Discussions during the workshop also supported efforts by UNEP and the Inter-American Development Bank to develop a Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management. Government representatives and regional agencies such as the Caribbean Development Bank had the opportunity to provide input into the ongoing development of the $20 million project proposal for submission to the GEF secretariat.