Report on the 6th Caribbean Environmental Forum St Kitts and Nevis
May 21 – 25, 2012
by Ms. Lani Edghill
Green Business Barbados
An initiative of The Future Centre Trust
May 22, 2012
The working days of the Caribbean Environment Forum (CEF) started off with a bang at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and the Royal Beach Casino. The focus of the Forum was The Green Economy: Challenges and Opportunities in Managing Health, Water, Waste, Land, Energy, Climate Change and our Natural Resources. Key note addresses were delivered by a number of Government Ministers including those from St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and St. Lucia. Minister of Public Works, Housing, Energy and Utilities, for St Kitts and Nevis, Dr. The Honourable Earl Asim Martin, blazed the trail by highlighting their existing geothermal plant in Nevis and future plans for Geothermal plants of 10 megawatts each for St. Kitts and Nevis. In addition to this renewable energy source, a wind farm exists on Nevis producing 6 megawatts with a similar one on St. Kitts in the process of being built which will produce 5.2 megawatts of power. These plants will assist in moving St. Kitts and Nevis closer to their goal of producing 60% renewable energy for the country by 2015. This process was heavily informed by the public through public consultation and town hall meetings.
The Minister of Environment and Drainage for Barbados, Dr The Honourable Denis Lowe, featured the country’s Green Economy Scoping Study and made reference to the planned ‘Green Energy Complex’ for Barbados. Minister of Agriculture for Guyana, Dr. The Honourable Leslie Ramsammy, discussed the need to implement sustainable agriculture practices including integrated pest management (IPM) and stressed the need for a regional sound GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) framework for CARICOM. Dr. Didacus Jules, Registrar for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), provided the educational perspective explaining how the CXC is working toward integrating green skills into the Caribbean curriculum.
Day Two of the forum also saw the exhibition in full force, with resources and information available on waste water treatment, water harvesting systems, data on marine litter, etc. Embracing the Green Revolution is POUI (Protecting Our Universal Investment), a company based in Trinidad and Tobago, who provides clothing options made from recycled PET bottles, pens, stickers, reusable bags and other sustainable products and services.
May 23, 2012
The 16th Annual Caribbean Wide Waste Management Conference (ReCaribe 2012) was launched on May 23 which included presentations made by representatives from St. Kitts, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Barbados is leading the Caribbean in their waste management practices with their recycling brokers and their waste management system, while St. Vincent and the Grenadines have developed a waste management plan that includes composting, recycling and waste characterisation. All in all the Caribbean is moving toward a more sustainable environment in order to promote and protect our natural resources and scenic natural environments.
The panel presenters included Mr. Bridgewater from St. Kitts and Nevis who highlighted the need for more tools and resources in order to manage the waste on the island and mentioned that even though there is no formal municipal recycling system that St. Kitts is recycling most scrap metals through waste brokers. Additionally, Mr. Winsbert Quow of the Solid Waste Project Unit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines talked about the Waste Management Plan developed for the islands that includes a materials recovery facility and a weigh station in order to measure the waste accepted at the land fill. The programme also included an island by island based recycling and composting system for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Part of the plan has already been implemented with the launch of the municipal composting system but further funds are needed in order to implement the full plan.
Mr. Ricardo Marshall, representing the Solid Waste Project Unit of Barbados, presented on that country’s progressive waste management system including the private/public partnership with Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) and the Government of Barbados. He shared with the participants the current rate of waste disposal at 1200 to 1300 tonnes per day and explained the process by which the waste is processed allowing for the diversion of 70-75% of total waste received away from the landfill. Most of this waste is green waste which is being mulched for application in agriculture and landscaping, while construction and demolition waste, another large contributor to the waste stream, is currently being used for land reclamation for the backfill of quarries. There was consensus within the group that Barbados is a leader in the region in sustainable waste management. Concern was noted however of the amount of waste thrown away every day in the region including Grenada where there is a lack of data collection as it relates to waste disposal. Grenada, an island of 120,000 people, officially disposes 100 tonnes of waste per day.
Parallel sessions were held on the topics of water quality management, pollution and water contamination. A study conducted by Shervon De Leon, Graduate Student at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, revealed antibiotics in marine near shore environments in 10 islands in the Caribbean including Barbados and speculative discussion suggests that this is related not only to antibiotic use in humans but also in the agricultural industry. In addition in a Caribbean Ecohealth study conducted by Dr. Martin Forde from Trinidad and Tobago on pesticides, Persistent Organic Pollutants and lead and mercury levels in the bodies of pregnant women in 10 Caribbean islands, it was revealed there were higher levels of mercury in pregnant women’s bodies in the Caribbean (in the 10 participating islands) than in US and Canadian studies. Speculation suggested that this could be due to higher fish consumption rates in the Caribbean. This study also revealed an unusually high level of lead in bodies of pregnant women in Dominica, speculation suggests that this could be related to the volcanic activity on the island. Both studies show that more research is needed in order to determine the causes and ways to reduce the potential impacts. Suggestions were made that the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute should lead the way on this initiative.
May 24, 2012
On the third and final day of sessions, the ReCaribe 2012 Conference commenced with my own presentation as Green Business Barbados (GBB) Coordinator for the Future Centre Trust. Included was information on the organisation and its projects, GBB programme history, details and case studies on successful green business initiatives within the programme. Case studies included Harris Paints, KPMG, the British High Commission, and Studio Blue Architects. Mention was also made of other businesses in the programme and what their most unique green initiatives were as well as practical ways that participants could change their behaviours to be part of the solution to our sustainability issues in the Caribbean, and indeed worldwide. The presentation was well received by participants and questions were raised in the recycling of paint cans distributed by Harris Paints as well as positive feedback as to the planned launch of no VOC paint by Harris Paints in December 2012.
During the remainder of the day, participants heard a presentation from Piranha International Ltd. in Trinidad and Tobago and their process and challenges as it relates to the ethical and environmentally sound removal and recycling of e-waste. Additionally, Wade Environmental Industries Ltd. an e-waste recycler based in New Jersey, USA, also spoke about ethical e-waste recycling and their challenges in accepting and processing e- waste. E-waste is considered hazardous waste due to the potentially harmful contaminants in many of the components. The Basel Convention governs e-waste transport throughout the world. The organisation which manages this convention in the region is the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean directed by Dr. Ahmad A. Khan.
What was the conclusion from ReCaribe 2012 on waste management in the Caribbean you might ask? There needs to be a coordinated effort between islands on waste management data, technology and success stories on what has worked and what has not. In addition it was suggested that the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute could facilitate the proposed Waste Management Master Plan for the CARICOM countries in order to facilitate a holistic and comprehensive approach not only to waste management, but to government policy at it relates to waste management throughout CARICOM. Additionally, education and capacity building is key within our island communities as often behaviour of our citizens is a primary component in sustainable waste management worldwide.