Environmental Conventions! There are so many that it’s hard to keep track of them all. A multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) is usually a legally binding agreement between three or more states relating to the environment. Through these agreements countries work together on global environmental issues. MEAs may however take the form of “soft-law”, setting out non-legally binding principles which parties will respect when considering actions which affect a particular environmental issue or “hard-law” which specify legally-binding actions to be taken to work toward an environmental objective.
St. Lucia is party to many important environmental agreements which have global impact. Among them are the following:
Framework Convention on Climate Change
One of the conventions agreed to at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) which develops a global response to stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
The FCCC’s primary objective is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human caused) interference with the climate system.
This convention came into effect 21 March 1994 and currently has about 194 countries party to it with several Non-governmental organizations as observers. Saint Lucia became party to the FCCC in June of 1993.
Convention on Biological Diversity
This convention was agreed upon at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The Convention on Biological Diversity was inspired by the world community's growing commitment to sustainable development and aims to:
- conserve biological diversity for its intrinsic value
- provide for the sustainable use of its components
- provide for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.
The Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.
About 193 countries are party to this convention with St. Lucia signing on, on the 28th of July 1993.
Another important convention is the UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification)
Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
The Convention’s 195 parties or members work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.
As the dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are intimately connected, the UNCCD collaborates closely with the other two Rio Conventions; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to meet these complex challenges with an integrated approach and the best possible use of natural resources.
There are currently 728 NGOs accredited with UNCCD. This group of organizations consists of NGOs, foundations, research institutes, grassroots organizations and trade unions. St. Lucia signed on in July of 1997.
These multilateral agreements or conventions are extremely important as they hold countries accountable and set guidelines for the sustainable management of earth’s resources which in many cases have been overexploited; the negative impacts of which are felt by many of the world’s population especially the poor and disadvantaged.
The Forestry Department has as its mandate the sustainable management of our biological resources, for the creation of sustainable livelihoods, for the alleviation of poverty and the overall benefit of an enriched life for all Saint Lucians.