The SPAW Protocol and the Cartagena Convention

décembre 2020

The Cartagena Convention

In 1983 the Caribbean nations adopted the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, the only legally binding regional agreement on the environment.

The Convention is supported and enacted by means of three protocols on biodiversity (Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife – SPAW, 1990), land-based pollution (LBS, 1999) and hydrocarbon pollution (Combatting Oil Spills, 1983).

The SPAW Protocol

The SPAW Protocol uses an ecosystem-based approach and provides a unique legal framework for the conservation of biodiversity in the region. It is recognised as an important instrument for achieving the targets of worldwide agreements on biodiversity such as the Convention on Biological Diversity or the Ramsar Convention.

Signed in 1990, the objectives of the SPAW Protocol are:

  • the protection, conservation and sustainable management of particularly ecologically valuable areas
  • the protection and conservation of threatened and endangered wild species together with their habitats

The protocol includes other transversal provisions:

  • the setting up of impact assessments in the case of projects and activities that could have a significant effect on the environment,
  • the possibility of exemption from the obligations of the Protocol in the case of traditional or development activities,
  • the development of scientific and technical research on the protected areas and species listed under the SPAW Protocol, and the sharing of information between the Parties concerning their research/monitoring programmes, together with the coordination of these programmes,
  • finally, the Protocol establishes the principles for devising measures, criteria and guidelines corresponding to these various objectives.

The SPAW Protocol became an international law on 18 June 2020.


Download the Protocol and its 28 articles (in French)

Le protocole SPAW (pdf - 58.17 Ko)