Protecting SIDS from chemicals and waste: integrated action for healthy environments and sustainable development

Monday 27 May, 14:00 - 15:30, Room 7, American University of Antigua

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) aspire to a thriving future built on healthy environments and a sustainable blue economy. But that dream is under attack from a hidden enemy: pollution from chemicals and waste. This toxic tide not only harms the stunning natural beauty that defines these islands, but also threatens the health of their people and the future of their economies.

The bad news? This problem is linked to the climate and biodiversity crises, hitting SIDS especially hard. Pollution, from marine and terrestrial sources, severely affects fragile ecosystems, including coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds, which act as natural barriers against storms and support rich biodiversity. Pollution and ocean acidification lead to coral bleaching and habitat loss, threatening the survival of sea life and the livelihoods of communities dependent on them. Protecting these ecosystems from pollution is not only crucial for biodiversity but also for mitigating the impacts of climate change on SIDS and ensuring that SIDS reap the benefits of the blue economy.

Pollution has dire consequences for human health in SIDS. Exposure to harmful chemicals in agricultural runoff, sewage discharge and industrial waste lead to short and long-term ailments. This is exacerbated by pollution due to the chronic lack of adequate waste management systems in SIDS, that also threatens access to clean water.

Pollution not only affects health and ecosystems but also has endangers economic resilience. The degradation of pristine beaches and coral reefs, from e.g. plastic waste, leads to decreased revenues from tourism and fishing, key pillars of SIDS economies and livelihood. Contaminated soil and water impair agricultural productivity and food security.

The good news? There's still time to fight back. By strengthening international agreements and national laws to reduce harm from toxic chemicals and improve waste management, SIDS can turn the tide. Imagine crystal-clear waters teeming with life, free from plastic and harmful chemicals and wastes. This future is possible, but it requires action. We need solutions that not only clean up the mess, but also create a circular economy where waste becomes a resource and provide jobs. By doing this, SIDS can build resilient economies that are good for both people and the planet.


  • Highlighting the Path to Clean SIDS: This session will explain how preventing pollution and embracing a circular economy are critical for achieving the sustainable development goals that SIDS are striving for. We'll explore what SIDS truly desire for their future.
  • Island Challenges, Island Solutions: We'll delve into the specific needs and ongoing struggles faced by SIDS in managing their waste, particularly plastic.
  • Turning the Tide: Practical Solutions: Join us as we showcase successful strategies for managing chemicals and waste, implemented at national, regional, and international levels through cooperation.
  • A United Front for a Healthy Future: This session will advocate for a unified approach that addresses both pollution and the unique priorities of SIDS.




Welcome Remarks: Mr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions

Opening Remarks:

  • Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO, Global Environmetal Facility
  • Ms Ligia Norhonha, UN ASG and Head New York Office, UNEP
  • Ms. Valerie Hickey, Global Director of Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, World Bank

High level Ministerial panel

  • HM Sir Molwyn Joseph, Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Antigua and Barbuda
  • HM Pennelope Beckles -Robinson, Minister of Planning and Development, Trinidad and Tobago
  • HM Mr.Flavien Joubert, Minister of environment of Seychelles

Technical panel on regional perspectives

  • Ms. Jewel Batchasingh, Director, Basel Convention Regional Center for Training and Technology Transfer in the Caribbean
  • Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, Director-General, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)
  • Mr. Stefan Ott, Circular Economy Specialist, Finance Competition & Innovation Global Practice, The World Bank
  • Ms. Ines Benabdallah, Global Environmental Facility Chemicals and Waste Unit, Industry & Economy Division, UNEP

Closing remarks
Ms. Ashley Lashley, Founder, the Ashley Lashley Foundation

The event is moderated by Mr. Linroy Christian, Ministry of Agriculture, Land, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda