Conventions & Treaties
Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The United Nations recognised that climate change was indeed a problem and the General Assembly agreed to set up the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) back in 1992. At the Rio Conference that same year, countries signed on to the Convention.
In 1995, the UNFCCC held its first Conference of the Parties (COP) in Berlin, Germany, and parties embarked on a negotiation process to make the Convention legally binding. This is known as the Berlin Mandate.
In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding agreement, was adopted at the third Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 3) in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.
Recognising that developed countries (Annex 1 Parties) are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2001, and are referred to as the “Marrakesh Accords”. Its first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.
In Doha, Qatar, on December 8, 2012, the “Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol” was adopted. The amendment includes:
- New commitments for Annex 1 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2020;
- A revised list of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to be reported on by Parties in the second commitment period; and
- Amendments to several articles to the Kyoto Protocol which specifically referenced issues pertaining to the first commitment period and which needed to be updated for the second commitment period.
Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
The Vienna Convention was established to protect human health and the environment against adverse effects resulting from modifications of the ozone layer.
The Protocol to this Convention, the Montreal Protocol, was signed in Montreal, Canada, in 1997 to protect the ozone layer by taking precautionary measures to control global emissions of substances that deplete it.
Trinidad and Tobago continues to be in full compliance with this Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) and has been successful in completely phasing out the importation of CFCs as at January 1, 2008.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was signed in Bonn, Germany, in 1997 to protect certain endangered species from over-exploitation, by means of a system of import/export permits. This includes animals and plants, whether dead or alive, and any recognisable parts or derivatives.
Appendix 1 of the Convention – Covers endangered species, trade in which is to be tightly controlled.
Appendix 11 – Covers species that may become endangered unless trade is regulated.
Appendix 111 – Covers species that any Party wishes to regulate and requires international cooperation to control trade.
Appendix 1V – Contains model permits. Permits are required for species listed in appendices 1 and 11 stating that export/import will not be detrimental to the survival of the species.
Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992 to conserve biological diversity, promote the sustainable use of its components and encourage equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.
Under the Convention, parties are responsible for the formulation and implementation of strategies, plans and programmes for the conservation and sustainable us of biological diversity. They are also required to monitor the elements of biological diversity, determine the nature of the urgency required in the protection of each category and in sampling them, in terms of the risks to which they are exposed.
State Parties are obligated to provide research, training and general education, as well as to foster awareness in relation to measures for the identification, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. They are obligated to provide EIAs on projects that are likely to have significant adverse effects on biological diversity and provide financial support for the fulfillment of the objectives of conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat
This Convention was signed by Parties in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognising the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value.
According to provisions, the party countries who have signed the Convention must:
- Designate at least one national wetland for inclusion in a List of Wetlands of International Importance.
- Consider their international responsibilities for conservation, management and wise use of migratory stocks of wildfowl.
- Establish wetland nature reserves, cooperate in the exchange of information and train personnel for wetland management.
- Convene conferences on the conservation of wetlands and waterfowl as the need arises.
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
The UNEP Governing Council convened an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to prepare an international legally binding instrument on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The INC and its subsidiary bodies completed work on the instrument, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, in December 2000 and a Conference of Plenipotentiaries adopted the Stockholm Convention on May 22, 2001.
The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from POPs. POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife.
Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
Signed in Basel, Switzerland, in1989, this Convention has established obligations for state Parties to:
- Reduce transboundary movements of wastes, subject to the Basel Convention, to a minimum consistent with the environmentally sound and efficient management of such wastes.
- Minimise the amount of toxicity of hazardous wastes generated and ensure their environmentally sound management (including disposal and recovery operations) as close as possible to the source of generation.
- Assist developing countries in environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes they generate.
Parties must inform others of their decision to prohibit import of hazardous wastes. Parties will then not allow waste to be exported to these countries and can prohibit export if the state of import does not consent in writing to the specific import. States of export shall not allow the generator of hazardous wastes to commence transboundary movement until they have received written confirmation that the notifier has received written consent of the state of import. In case of an accident during transboundary movement likely to present risks to human health and the environment in other states, these states must be immediately informed.