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This page provides a brief summary of the content and intent of the Cartagena Convention.
The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region was adopted in Cartagena, Colombia on 24 March 1983 and entered into force on 11 October 1986, for the legal implementation of the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme. 

The Convention has been supplemented by three Protocols:

The Cartagena Convention has been ratified by 21 United Nations Member States in the Wider Caribbean Region. Its Area of application comprises the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the areas of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent thereto, south of 30 north latitude and within 200 nautical miles of the Atlantic Coasts of the States. 

The legal structure of the Convention is such that it covers the various aspects of marine pollution for which the Contracting Parties must adopt measures. Thus, the Convention requires the adoption of measures aimed at preventing, reducing and controlling pollution of the following areas:

  • pollution from ships
  • pollution caused by dumping
  • pollution from sea-bed activities
  • airborne pollution
  • pollution from land-based sources and activities.

In addition, the Parties are required to take appropriate measures to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems, as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and to develop technical and other guidelines for the planning and environmental impact assessments of important development projects in order to prevent or reduce harmful impacts on the area of application. 

The Cartagena Convention is not the only Multilateral Environmental Agreement applicable in the region. Other applicable agreements include the Convention on Biological Diversity, MARPOL 73/78, the Basel Convention and others. However, its regional area of application makes it an important complement to other agreements.

In recognition of the need for collaborative efforts in preserving and protecting the marine environment, the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with IOCARIBE of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO on 25 February, 2002.  This agreement highlights areas of shared programmatic interest and cooperation between the organizations both of whom are prepared to promote cooperation and coordination in the wider Caribbean region on activities related to oceanographic conditions, monitoring of marine pollution and management of data generated from these activities.

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Last updated: 07 March 2002

UNEP -- Caribbean Environment Programme
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