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ECLAC Meeting Discusses Costs/Benefits of Solid Waste Management in Caribbean SIDS

23 September 2011: The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) convened an expert group meeting to discuss an initial draft of the cost-benefit analysis of providing proper solid waste management (SWM) among Caribbean small island developing States (SIDS). ECLAC had been requested by the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee to help make a strong economic case for investing in improved SWM in the Caribbean SIDS.

The meeting took place in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 23 September 2011. The initial draft examines the issues involved in assessing SWM, including in Caribbean SIDS in particular. The draft also includes case studies on Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. The first found that for Saint Lucia, whose economy is dominated by tourism and therefore places a premium on maintaining pleasing aesthetics, every dollar invested in SWM yields 10 in benefits. For Trinidad and Tobago, whose economy is dominated by oil and gas production, the cost-benefit was found to be around 1:1.

The expert group noted: the interest and skepticism about waste-to-energy initiatives; that the clean development mechanism (CDM) could be useful, but the process is cumbersome and lengthy; too much overlapping responsibility for SWM among Caribbean SIDS; that the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has had some success in its SWM project, but progress has stalled because of capacity constraints; and that proper SWM is of clear benefit to Saint Lucia and likely would be to other Caribbean SIDS with tourism-dominated economies.

In the discussion about possible recommendations to include in the ECLAC report, the expert group suggested: encouraging composting; asking OECS countries to revisit and update their existing waste management strategies; examining the possible role of regional organizations such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in waste policy issues; examining the role of wastepickers; promoting public-private partnerships in waste management; recommending strategies to help improve enforcement of existing legislation; stressing the role of ongoing public education; exploring the creation of a regional waste information exchange system; and developing standards on reporting, disseminating, and increasing the transparency of waste data. [IISD RS Sources]