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Partnership workshop to address solid waste challenges in Saint Lucia

[Press Release] “Yearly indicators reveal to us that we are faced with progressively challenging climate resilience issues in potable water quality, freshwater quality and the constant deterioration of our marine and coastal water ecosystems in particular.”

With these words, Mr. Cassian Henry of the Saint Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority (SLSWMA) welcomed the participants to a two-day workshop that was held at the distribution warehouse of Blue Waters Saint Lucia Inc. in Bois D’Orange.

The workshop took place on May 16th and 17th and was organised by a group of public and private sector entities, who have committed themselves to take serious action in the fight against solid waste pollution in the Saint Lucian environment, in particular plastics and plastic bottles.

Represented at the workshop were key public and private entities, who strive to initiate a partnership to mutually carry out projects addressing solid waste challenges in Saint Lucia. These entities are Blue Waters Saint Lucia Inc., JUA KALI LTD., the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA), the Saint Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority (SLSWMA), Tropical Shipping Saint Lucia Inc., and the Windward & Leeward Brewery Inc (WLBL).
In addition, national and regional stakeholders affected by and/or dealing with the topic, participated in the workshop, namely the Water and Sewerage Company Inc. Saint Lucia (WASCO), the Environmental Sustainability Cluster of the OECS Commission, and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

The entities forming the partnership have identified solid waste pollution of the environment as one of the biggest environmental challenges, which not only affects and threatens individual stakeholders but rather the society and economy as a whole. The understanding of the challenges now has led “to a movement that stands to revolutionize the thinking of many others in the way forward in building alliances for the stewardship of our precious water resource”, as Mr. Henry highlights in his welcoming remarks.

The two days of the workshop were guided by two crucial objectives.

On the first day, participants focused on the awareness of stakeholders concerning solid waste challenges and associated water risks including their impacts. Also, the goal was to operationalise a multi-stakeholder partnership to jointly address these risks in the interest of Saint Lucia as a whole. In this regard, the participants grouped challenges prevailing in solid waste management and the water risks associated to it, such as flooding and blockage of water drainages, disruption of water supply systems and the pollution of terrestrial and marine water sources. To reduce the risks originating from these challenges, the participants identified potential measures to address and possibly resolve them over the course of time through development of, and participation in, related projects.

On the second day, the focus was on the preparation of a business case on measures to be undertaken along the plastic recycling value chain to reduce plastic waste in Saint Lucia. Plastic waste is symbolic to visualise issues related to solid waste management. Different types of plastic are used widely in everyday situations: be it bags, bottles, cutlery, food containers, packaging, wrappings or any other item. Plastic is often the material of choice. However, it is a material that is “going to outlive our lifetime and generations after us”, as Mr. Henry pointed out in his welcoming remarks on the first day of the workshop. Efficient and sustainable solutions to deal with the problem are hence key to ensuring healthy environments for generations to come. The workshop was rounded off by visits to tangible and impressive examples of plastic waste threatening the environment and business endeavours to handle the issue effectively and efficiently.

In this initial phase, the partnership is supported by the German development cooperation agency GIZ through its “International Water Stewardship Programme (IWaSP)”.

During the forthcoming weeks, the partners committed themselves to further advance the development of the partnership and implementation of measures to address solid waste challenges in Saint Lucia.

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