Helping SIDS protect their marine environment
Ever since its inception in 1995, the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) has been a catalyzer for action to address marine pollution. Since 2012, the work of the GPA, which is hosted by UNEP, has been focused on establishing and running three multistakeholder partnerships, each addressing a different source category of marine pollution. The three source categories in question are: marine litter, nutrients and wastewater. This article lays out the activities of the GPA as they relate to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the Samoa Pathway.
Photo credit: SPREP
Marine litter

At the third global conference for Small Island Developing States, held in Apia, Samoa in September 2014, the GPA provided support for a waste minimization demonstration project. The project, which was carried out through the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML), included awareness raising, establishing a waste management programme at the Samoa Ports Authority, which included setting up litter booms, installing waste disposal facilities at the SIDS conference venue, and working with the local communities in the Apia area to improve waste practices. The effort was a partnership between the Government of Samoa, UNEP/ GPA and the GPML, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the communities and private sector in Apia. Aspects of this project, including the litter booms, have since been replicated in the Solomon Islands.

As part of an effort to regionalize the GPML, the partnership is now in the process of establishing a formal collaboration with SPREP. The collaboration includes establishing a regional node for the GPML in the South Pacific. Another regional node of the GPML was established for the Wider Caribbean in November of 2015, and discussions with local stakeholders have already started in order to determine local needs. In addition, case studies in relation to waste and marine litter are being explored. These efforts are important to ensure that the work carried out under the GPML is adequately tailored to regional needs and priorities.

With regards to technical cooperation and collaboration, the GPML provides a collaborative forum which includes, among others, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, and the Secretariat for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, in addition to academics, NGOs and other relevant actors. Furthermore, UNEP can, upon request and subject to funding, provide support to countries in their work to develop marine litter action plans. This is something that UNEP has already done in the past.

As part of its efforts to bolster capacity building, UNEP, in cooperation with the Open University of Netherlands, launched a massive open online course (MOOC) on the topic of marine litter within the framework of GPML in 2015. This is now being evaluated in order to see how to further improve any future MOOCs.


The Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) established a Caribbean Platform on Nutrient Management in 2013 at an inaugural meeting in Trinidad and Tobago. Some ten countries along with lead regional and international agencies contributed to the definition of the platform and alignment of its mandate with the aims and objectives of the GPNM at the global level. Priority areas for intervention were identified. The second regional planning meeting took place in Trinidad and Tobago on the 24th and 25th of February 2016. The purpose of the meeting was to re-affirm priorities in respect to nutrient management in the region, finalize a plan of action for the operationalization of the Caribbean Platform for Nutrient Management, agree on mechanisms for mainstreaming and building sustainability for the Platform into existing frameworks and identify immediate opportunities from ongoing or planned projects to support nutrient-related activities in the region.

There is ongoing work across the region through UNEP’s Caribbean Regional Seas Programme, that is contributing to addressing the nutrient challenge, through GEF-funded projects such as the Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management Project (GEF CReW), the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystems Project (CLME), which is now entering the Strategic Action Plan phase, and the upcoming Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States Project (GEF-IWEco). Other regional partners working on aspects of the nutrient challenge include the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association, the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association, the Inter-American Institute on Cooperation on Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The GPNM, in cooperation with the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Project (BOMBLE) and the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP), completed a review study in 2013 on Controlling Nutrient Loading and Eutrophication of Coastal Waters of the South Asian Seas. The study identified major gaps in data availability needed for assessment works, such as data on production and use of fertilizers, estimates of detergent phosphate uses and quantities and sewage reaching the coast. The Maldives were part of that assessment study.

The GPNM will be establishing the Africa Platform during the course of 2016 and will work in collaboration with the Nairobi Convention. This will include SIDS in the Indian Ocean, namely the Comoros, Mauritius and the Seychelles, while under the Abidjan Convention, the Atlantic Ocean SIDS of Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe will be included.

The GPNM and the Global Wastewater Partnership (GW2I) will jointly be rolling out a MOOC on nutrients and wastewater management that will features cases relevant to the SIDS regions.
Copyright 2016 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs