Caribbean Takes Center Stage in ‘Resilient Islands: Zero Waste and Circular Caribbean’ Webinar

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and partners under the European Union-funded in collaboration with CARIFORUM “Zero Waste in the Caribbean: New Ways New Waves” initiative have launched a webinar series to promote dialogue towards the adoption of sustainable Waste Management Practices and Circular Economy Principles across the Caribbean.

The ‘Resilient Islands: Zero Waste and Circular Caribbean’ webinar series kicked off on January 31st and focused on “Waste Management Synergies: Bridging Public and Private Sectors for Sustainable Solutions.”

The inaugural session engaged over 70 participants, comprising industry leaders, experts, and stakeholders from Institutions and Agencies from the Caribbean Region, to explore innovative approaches to waste management.

The initiative is the first of the “Resilient Islands: Zero Waste and Circular Caribbean” webinar series which is intended to increase awareness about the importance of sustainable waste management practices and circular economy principles, providing a platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration among key stakeholders, advocating for supportive policies and legislative frameworks that encourage and facilitate the adoption of zero-waste initiatives and circular economy practices at regional and national levels, and catalyzing partnership to take tangible actions towards reducing waste, promoting recycling, and adopting circular approaches.

The webinar delved into the challenges faced by Caribbean cities in coping with the rapid technological and economic growth, which has strained existing infrastructure. The focus was on how well-structured contracts, community engagement, and technological integration can form the bedrock of robust waste management systems.

Luca Trinchieri, Team Lead of the Green Deal Unit at the European Union Delegation in Barbados commented that, ”The private public sector engagement promoted through the ongoing regional initiative and this webinar is exactly the type of work that we hope to see more of and we recognize that waste is a sector in which there are promising opportunities for this.

While not necessarily singled under the Global Gateway Investment Agenda (GGIA) actions, the sector will benefit from this framework as this thematic area is aligned with all of the key focal areas of energy, water etc. Indeed the current regional initiative foresaw the need for investment frameworks like the GGIA and was developed in a way to support private sector engagement and to facilitate investment in the sector.”

Exploring Key Topics in Waste Management Synergies for Sustainable Solutions

During the webinar, “Waste Management Synergies: Bridging Public and Private Sectors for Sustainable Solutions” a myriad of pivotal topics were explored. The discussions illuminated the significance of collaboration between public and private sectors as a cornerstone for effective waste management solutions. Financial constraints and the need for creative solutions took center stage, emphasizing the importance of innovative funding mechanisms and partnerships to overcome operational challenges. Legislative supervision and stakeholder engagement were identified as crucial elements in navigating the complexities of waste management, underscoring the need for a regulatory framework that encourages cooperation. The discourse also highlighted strategies for maximizing efficiency through private sector involvement, showcasing successful initiatives that address challenges while promoting sustainable practices in waste management. Overall, the webinar served as a catalyst for fostering collaborative efforts and innovative solutions in the pursuit of a cleaner and more sustainable future in the Caribbean region.

The interactive online session showcased successful collaborations between urban centers and the private sector, underscoring the potential for replicable solutions. The discussion emphasized the importance of creating an environment conducive to peer learning, knowledge sharing, and exchanges, fostering a multiplier effect.

“As a company – Ms. Louise Victor, Corporate Affairs Manager Heineken St. Lucia Limited commented during the event- committed to Brewing a Better World, sustainability and responsibility are front and center in all that we do. As part of our 2030 Raise the Bar Strategy, we have the ambition to maximize the circularity of our products and give a second life to our input and output materials; and we have the commitment of zero waste to landfill for all our production facilities worldwide by 2025. As a Heineken operating company in Saint Lucia we remain committed to working with all stakeholders to finding sustainable solutions for plastic and waste management on island”.

Bridging the Divide: Discussion Highlights

The interactive session opened the stage to participants to key insights and challenges in the realm of waste management; the interaction highlighted the vital role of infrastructure and investment from both public and private sectors for effective waste collection; brought attention to the challenges and opportunities in shipping and logistics for recycling, emphasizing the need to identify investment opportunities; underscored the necessity of public-private partnerships and legislative support for successful waste management initiatives. The panelists shared invaluable lessons, emphasizing the commitment and enthusiasm required for the success of such partnerships, highlighted the importance of collaboration in breaking down silos between the public and private sectors, revealing key strategies for fostering synergy in the pursuit of sustainable waste solutions. The session provided a comprehensive and insightful perspective on the collaborative efforts needed for a more sustainable future.

As the Caribbean Region positions itself as a leader in sustainable waste management, the webinar series aims to inspire collaborative efforts that transcend boundaries, supporting a cleaner, more sustainable future. The organizers encourage private sectors and companies to join upcoming webinars to further explore opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

Jordi Pon, Regional Coordinator, Chemicals and Pollution Action Programme UNEP, commented: “We are thrilled to launch this webinar series ‘Resilient Islands: Zero Waste and Circular Caribbean’, which is addressed to the community of practitioners and interested participants on sustainable waste management in the Caribbean. By bringing the relevant stakeholders together on a regular basis, we hope to contribute to a cross-fertilization of ideas and innovative approaches towards a circular economy and ultimately improving the livelihoods and the environment in the Caribbean Region”.

The success of the inaugural webinar sets the stage for continued engagement, with future sessions focusing on how different public sector entities can collaborate with the private sector to support local initiatives.

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