6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where we are

Delegates from SIDS around the world meet in Barbados for the Sustainable Energy for All Conference. Photo: UNDP

The target of biodiversity protection levels and carbon emissions are within reach, and progress in access to sustainable water sources is evident.  There is need to establish baselines and to measure the environmental degradation of those natural resources which are critical to the Caribbean, such as loss of coral reefs and measurement of economic losses and displacement from the environmental impact of natural events and human activity.

The proportion of land covered by forest is relatively high for all of the mainland Caribbean countries and Dominica, located in the insular Caribbean. However, levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are increasing in all Caribbean countries —with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica— where the levels are significantly lower than those of developed countries and have not exceeded 2,500 metric tons. 

With the exception of Barbados, consumption of ozone-depleting substances has declined consistently for all countries of the subregion between 1990 and 2008.  In the case of Barbados, there has been an overall decline, notwithstanding an increase in 2004 and again in 2006.

Among Caribbean countries, there has been generally consistent progress towards the attainment of full access to improved drinking water services between 1990 and 2008.  During this period, the proportion of the total population with improved access to drinking water has exceeded 95% for at least eight countries, with the largest increase being for Belize, where the proportion has increased from 75% in 1990 to 99% in 2008. Whilst access to drinking water has improved, the sustainability of the sources remains of concern.  It must also be noted that improvement in the level of access to drinking water has been lower in rural than in urban areas.

The Caribbean subregion as a whole has been better off in terms of drinking water than with sanitation, and urban areas are better served than rural areas. Much remains to be done in terms of quality for both services —especially for drinking water, its effective disinfection, reducing the problems of leakage and intermittent service— and the treatment of urban sewage, and the sustainability of services amid growing competition for water, destruction of catchment basins, contamination and climate change. As in the case of drinking water, most Caribbean countries have also achieved significant improvements in the use of sanitation facilities since 1990.  Based on available data, eight countries have shown proportions of upwards of 95% of the population using sanitation facilities in 2008.

Source: Caribbean Millennium Development Goals Report 2010

UNDP's work in Barbados and the OECS

  • Agronomist David Bynoe showing the members of a Barbados community how to grow the produce. Photo: UNDP

    From Savings to Health: A Community Agricultural Initiative

    Barbados, Minister of Agriculture, the Honorable Senator Hensley Benn revealed that at the end of 2007, Barbados’ food import bill was $523,995,835 (US $261,997,719). Hemore

Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums