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Caribbean Islands Are The Biggest Plastic Polluters Per Capita In The World

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In 2016, global plastic waste amounted to some 242 million metric tons. Of this, 137 million tonnes (or more than 57%) originated in East Asia, the Pacific, Europe, Central Asia and North America, much of which made its way into the ocean. In 2015, the Journal of Science surveyed 192 coastal countries and confirmed that Asian nations, most notably China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, were 13 of the 20 biggest contributors of marine plastic waste. But as is often the case, numbers alone do not tell the entire story.

Case in point: the little island of St. Lucia, which produces the 6th largest amount of plastic waste per capita in the Caribbean, generates more than four times the amount of plastic waste per person as China— the world’s largest plastic polluter in absolute terms— and is responsible for 1.2 times more improperly disposed plastic waste per capita than China. (Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser in https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution)

Of the top thirty global polluters per capita, ten are from the Caribbean region. These are Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Guyana, Barbados, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Grenada, Anguilla and Aruba; and every year, these ten island nations generate more plastic debris than the weight of 20,000 space shuttles.

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The biggest culprit is Trinidad & Tobago, which produces a whopping 1.5 kilograms of waste per capita per day— the largest in the world. At least 0.19 kg per person per day of Trinidad & Tobago’s plastic debris is almost guaranteed to end up in the ocean due to improper disposal, amounting to more marine plastic originating in Trinidad & Tobago (per capita) than 98% of the countries in the world. (2010)

Inadequate waste management is at the root of the problem. Across a sample of Caribbean countries, an estimated 322,745 tonnes of plastic goes uncollected each year, resulting in 22% of households discarding waste in waterways or on land where it can end up in waterways (World Bank). According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 92% of marine litter in the Caribbean comes from land-based sources, as compared to the global average of 80%. (2014)

In July 2019, NGO, Parley for the Oceans shared a video depicting alarming amounts of plastic off the coast of the Dominican Republic. The video was captioned, “After three days of cleanups we have intercepted over 30 tonnes of plastic, but there is a lot more work to be done.”

Between 2006-2012, UNEP marine cleanup data for the Wider Caribbean Region revealed a total of 3,990,120 plastic debris items that were removed from coastal and underwater sites, covering 2,317 miles.

For a region that relies on the Caribbean Sea for more than $400 billion in income per year, the 18 billion pounds of plastic pollution that are disposed into the ocean each year is a real and dangerous threat.

According to National Geographic, “the Caribbean Sea’s $5 billion annual trade, its 200,000 direct jobs, its 100,000 ancillary services, food security for 40 million coastal inhabitants, and over $2 billion in dive tourism [are] at risk.”

14 Caribbean countries have begun to address this threat by banning the use of single-use plastic bags and/or Styrofoam and by implementing civic education programs.

There have also been a number of innovative approaches to managing plastic waste through reusing and repurposing. Since 2017, Hewlett Packard has been manufacturing ink cartridges made from over a million pounds of recycled plastic bottles from Haiti and NGO, Parley for the Oceans has been cleaning up coastal waters, repurposing plastic marine debris into a fibre called Parley Ocean Plastic which is used to make fashion items such as clothes, bags and shoes.

The fact is, however, that the most significant change will be felt when waste management and waste infrastructure, such as garbage collection, recycling centres and secure landfills are improved. According to a study published by the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, mismanaged plastic waste generated each year could triple by 2060 if these systems are not brought up to scratch.

Increases in plastic pollution will disproportionately affect the Caribbean. After all, small coastal communities with ocean-dependent economies that are fraught with inadequate waste management systems are far more vulnerable to the impacts of plastic waste than their larger, more industrialized counterparts.

It is too simplistic to make global comparisons based on absolute numbers. Ranking total plastic waste production per country masks global systems of inequality and overlooks the vulnerability of small, seemingly “insignificant” coastal communities. Rather than vilifying individual countries, we must deconstruct systems of inequality that perpetuate plastic pollution and increase vulnerability among select populations.

An analysis of per capita plastic waste in the Caribbean, with a focus on causes, impacts and solutions, is a far more enlightening exercise than Asian finger-pointing will ever be.

 

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Ridge to Reef supports capacity building through Apiculture training

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In an effort to build capacity in sustainable livelihoods the GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef (R2R) Project in partnership with the Ministry of Climate Resilience, the Environment, Forestry, Fisheries, Disaster Management and Information hosted an introductory Apiculture Training Programme in the communities of Happy Hill and New Hampshire.

After 20 days of interactive classroom sessions, several students of the Happy Hill Secondary School and farmers from the New Hampshire community completed the training programme.

Apiculture or beekeeping is the practice of maintaining honeybee colonies for the purpose of honey production or other bee products such as wax, propolis, pollen or royal jelly. In addition to being breed for their products, bees can also be kept for their ecological service of pollination.

During the training programme participants gained knowledge about the various practices employed in beekeeping through a mixture of practical and theoretical classroom sessions. The sessions highlighted the practices necessary to ensure the cultivation, management and maintenance of healthy beehives. Participants were also introduced to the biodiversity-friendly, livelihood opportunity that beekeeping provides. As an entrepreneurial avenue, beekeeping can have positive impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, in addition to serving as a source of income to provide a level of financial sustainability to farmers.

Trainer and Adult participants of the GEF/UNDP Ridge to Reef Apiculture Training Programme.

The R2R Bee Keeping Training Programme is one of several project activities which are directed towards supporting capacity building, sustainable livelihoods and Grenada’s progression towards achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable livelihoods allow stakeholders to cope with and recover from stresses and shocks without undermining or depleting the natural resource base which they depend upon.

The Ridge to Reef project continually seeks to promote sustainable livelihoods and sustainable land management practices geared towards enhancing biodiversity and sustaining ecosystems of Grenada.

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Open letter to Franka Alexis-Bernardine, Political Leader NDC

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9 November 2019
Franka Alexis-Bernardine
Political Leader
National Democratic Congress

Greetings Madam Political Leader!

Re: Your Election as Party Leader

The nation has greeted with great interest and expectation your ascendancy to the office of Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress. It appears to be a “watershed” moment for women in politics in Grenada. Permit me to offer my congratulations and a few comments/observations.

Congratulations, Madam, on your COURAGE and BRAVERY to serve your party and Grenada in this position and at this juncture in our country. Politics is BRUTAL, perhaps even dangerous, moreso for women.

Political leadership of the party is pointing ultimately in the direction of leadership of the country. Your entry into politics did not come via the electoral route but rather you answered a call to serve and became a Minister via a Senate appointment so you are starting a little handicapped since there is no “safe seat” in which to field the Political Leader. I therefore hope that you will have a circle of persons around you on whom you can depend – people who “have got your back” and want to see you SUCCEED. I do not mean “yes people” but people whom you can trust and will tell you what you need to know/hear. When the party leader succeeds, then the party looks good and everyone associated with the party looks good and confidence is built.

I recall the SHABBY treatment and disrespect meted out to former Party Leader/Political Leader, Tillman Thomas, during his term as Prime Minister. I trust, Madam, that the entire party has learnt from that episode and that your political colleagues will appreciate and value your capability and experience. Thankfully, “maximum leadership” does not appear to be the style of your party. However, a collection of bright persons DO NOT make a team and in the post-revolutionary period we the people have bemoaned the fact that a lot of bright people occupying the same political space NEVER seem to get their act together!! I hope that a Compact has been negotiated, that there are/will be protocols and procedures about how party business is conducted and its disputes are settled and that provisions are made for certain eventualities. You have served in the development NGO sector which considers process – including conflict resolution and concensus building – to be essential to a sustainable, quality product/output. Process is of paramount importance to organisational building and I trust it will become a hallmark of your political organisation. If a party cannot “take care of its own business”, how then can the public have confidence that it can run a country?

Role of Women in the Party

Traditionally, the women of the NDC party have been hardworking, no-nonsense people who, on more than one occasion, have brought a paralysed party out of crisis – going back as far as the post-Nicholas Brathwaite period. Thus, this public recognition by the party of the worth of its women has been LONG in coming. Even though the party has been at the vanguard of advancing the rights and status of women in Grenada, within the party, it has been slow in according that recognition and respect to its women, if one were to judge by the percentage of leadership positions held by women in the party and the percentage of women offered as candidates. Your party’s political rival, the New National Party, understands the international political capital of these numbers and has done well for itself in this regard. Regrettably, those numbers do not translate into influence on decision-making and agenda-setting, the improvement of the status of the women in Grenada or good governance in general. They are all wearing the same khaki cloth, in the same cut as the “boys”.

Clearly, in the recent elections of the Executive which brought you to the helm, an attempt seems to have been made to redress this gender inequality and I note there is almost 50-50 representation on the new Executive. Therefore, I trust Madam, that under your stewardship, there will be concerted efforts to develop the self-confidence and capacity of these and other capable women (and men) in the party to hold high office.

Party’s Business

As you are aware Madam, your party is under intense scrutiny. Indeed, sometimes it seems that there is a different yardstick by which certain interests measure the party when compared with its political rival, the New National Party. And there seems to be those who have made it their quest to “mash” up your party. So, the party needs to be mindful of distraction, “keep its eye on the prize”, and address its business in order to be seen as a credible alternative to be entrusted with the stewardship of the people’s business.

Madam, it amazes me how the general public seems to always be “in the know” in respect of the party’s internal business. I believe that this is destructive and needs to be remedied. While party business is indeed the people’s business, ALL dirty/other linen need not always be washed/aired out in public.

Brand

While one has to be sensitive/responsive to the public – since one is seeking their vote of approval – you as Political Leader will need to have YOUR, unique brand. I imagine, Madam, that soon, you and your advisors, will be shaping YOUR brand and the party’s brand. Among the qualities of that brand Madam, I hope, is that the TRUTH will always be told to the public.

I am sure Madam, that you would not want to come across as any “Saviour” or “knight in shining armour” who is going “to save” Grenada. You are much too pragmatic. It is about educating, empowering, inspiring and mobilising Grenadians to save themselves – to imbue them with the confidence and means that THEY CAN. ALL hands and colours have a part to play and are needed on board in the business of building Grenada.

Men, Women and Children

None better than you Madam appreciates the dire plight facing some of our women and children in this country, as has come to the fore recently. You have made enormous contributions to the design and implementation of programs to address some of those challenges. Your party also has several experienced, capable persons in this regard. I trust that your party will have a clearly articulated agenda that it can begin to implement, even while out of office. That said, the MEN also have to be brought along.

Stewardship of the People’s Assets

I trust, Madam, that your party, if elected to office, will remember at all times, it is the STEWARDS of the people’s business and ASSETS. We hope that at all times, it is going to be UPFRONT and TRANSPARENT in its relationship with foreign investors and governments and that it will not thrust its own version of “development’ upon us, particularly when that entails “giving away” our assets. There must be mechanisms by which we, the people can collectively participate in decision-making about matters of this nature.

We appreciate that government is a continuum and that decisions and commitments made by a previous government have to be honoured by the successor government. We are entering on TRICKY ground here, Madam Political Leader. On ascending to office in 2008, your administration inherited quite a number of these “suspect” projects. It is my considered view that the NDC administration of 2008-2013 had the sovereign authority to have rescued the people’s property in Levera from the debt junkie, Paul Taylor. It chose not to and played along with the so-called millionaire investor and now this property has apparently ended up in the hands of some Far Eastern group whose intent, it seems, is to create a millionaires’ playground. Based on a video circulated, apparently, there is not even room for Grenadians to be hewers of wood and carriers of water. The debt junkie seems to have benefitted HANDSOMELY while Grenadians whose LANDS WERE ACQUIRED are still awaiting payment. One or two have even gone to the great beyond. Your party has to have a definite plan as to how it would negotiate such MURKY situations.

Financing and the People’s Property

At all times, it must be remembered and understood by all and sundry, Madam Political Leader, that there are no free lunches!! Nations, institutions and individuals are not parting with their money because “dey like us”!! Among the questions to be pondered are: WHO are they, WHAT do they want in return and whether we can afford it. How will our people be impacted negatively and positively? Our political leaders seem to have a penchant for being blinded by apparent “glits and glamour”. They do not dig beyond the surface (DUE DILIGENCE) and it has become too much the trend that Grenadians are expected to “step aside” and GIVE UP what is their own to accommodate foreign investors because they “bringing jobs and development”. There are TOO many of these examples where promises have not been delivered, dreams broken, our assets alienated and we the people are left holding the debt and/or the white elephants. ENOUGH is enough!! So Madam Political Leader, when the party is negotiating financing, it must be remembered, that without informed people’s participation in the decision-making, the people’s property is OFF LIMITS!

The Journey Now Start

I thank you, Madam Political Leader, for the opportunity to offer these comments and I wish you very best wishes as you embark on this new phase of the journey as Political Leader of your party. May the Most High bless, inspire and protect you!

Kind regards!
Sandra CA Ferguson

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Faustino Asprilla: Ex-Colombia striker urged hitman not to kill Jose Luis Chilavert

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Former Colombia striker Faustino Asprilla says he had to convince a hitman not to kill Paraguay goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert after a World Cup qualifying match in 1997.



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