Workshop for Capacity Development in the Environmentally Sound Management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment in the Caribbean

The BCRC-Caribbean, with support from the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) of the Basel Convention, the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (SBRSC) and TES-AMM Latin America, successfully hosted a regional workshop to develop capacity in the environmentally sound management of waste electrical and electronic equipment from July 09-11 2013. The three-day event was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Centre in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The workshop was organised in recognition of the wide-reaching issues associated with the management of used and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE/e-waste) being generated throughout the Caribbean. It also provided the forum through which Caribbean stakeholders were introduced to the work of PACE and the guidance documents produced by the Partnership in order to support the ESM of used and end-of-life (EoL) computing equipment globally. In light of this, the workshop sought to achieve the following objectives:

1. To develop a holistic understanding of WEEE management issues across the region and raise awareness of the issue and on the importance of the ESM of WEEE to sustainable development;

2. To provide expert training in the four PACE guidelines for the ESM of WEEE as well as their importance to Basel Convention implementation;

3. To strengthen cooperation and communication on environmentally sound e-waste management across the Caribbean sub-region; and

4. To build capacity in the region to manage e-wastes internally and/or at a sub-regional cluster level, thereby negating the current trend of waste brokerage with off-island disposal and consequently giving rise to new local entrepreneurial activity in recovery and recycling.

Key stakeholders from throughout the region who the BCRC-Caribbean identified as either involved in or have direct impact upon the management of WEEE were invited to participate in the workshop. This multi-stakeholder group of fifty-one (51) participants from thirteen (13) countries included representatives from:
  • National Focal Points to the Basel Convention,
  • Ministries and Agencies responsible for waste and/or environmental management, public health and information and communications technology (ICT),
  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in WEEE management,
  • Private sector service providers in WEEE management,
  • Industry representatives in the ICT sector,
  • Regional and international organisations, and
  • Basel Convention Regional and Coordinating Centres (BCRCs & BCCCs).

Group photo of the participants in the BCRC-Caribbean PACE Workshop for Capacity Development in the ESM of WEEE in the Caribbean
The entire workshop was divided into four sessions during which several presentations were made by invited participants as well as a range of discussions on the topic of WEEE management. The first day of the workshop began with the official opening of the workshop which was followed by two of the four workshop sessions. During the Opening Session, welcome remarks were delivered by Dr. Ahmad Khan, Director of the BCRC-Caribbean, Mr. Kishan Kumarsingh, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the BCRC-Caribbean, Mr. Matthias Kern, Senior Programme Officer at the SBRSC, Professor Oladele Osibanjo, Co-Chair of the PACE Working Group and Director of the BCCC-Africa and the Honourable Ramona Ramdial, Minister in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources of Trinidad and Tobago.
Honourable Minister Ramona
Ramdial delivering the key
address at workshop
The first session of the workshop served as the plenary session of the workshop where the general issue of WEEE and the importance of the sound management of this waste stream for the protection of human and environmental health were introduced. The presenters for this session included Mr. Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network and Ms. Leila Devia of the BCRC-Argentina. The second session allowed the workshop participants to understand the status of the WEEE issue and its management across the Caribbean. This was achieved through the delivery of presentations by national and other representatives from various countries throughout the region. Presentations were also made during this session by various private sector interests in WEEE management and provided insight into how these stakeholders have been addressing the WEEE issue.

The second day and third session of the workshop was dedicated to the dissemination of the PACE guidance documents that were developed by the Partnership in order to enhance the ESM of used and end-of-life (EoL) computing equipment by managers and handlers of such equipment. During this session, the technical experts of the PACE Working Group who were invited to participate in the workshop made their presentations on the respective PACE guidance documents. Subsequent to these presentations, the focus of the agenda then shifted slightly towards some of the regional approaches taken in other parts of the developing world in order to address the WEEE issue. This included presentations on maximising the opportunities in the e-waste challenge towards sustainable development in Africa and on the WEEE policies and activities currently taking place in Central America.
On the final day of the workshop, the  focus went back to the Caribbean region and the existing status quo as it applies to the WEEE and its management. The fourth session encompassed the remaining presentations of the workshop which were comprised primarily of those from NGOs. Towards the end of this session, all of the issues that exist in the region as they pertain to the management of WEEE in the Caribbean, the required states to ensure sound management of WEEE and examples of the actions required to achieve these states were synthesised and presented to the participants.
The participants then took this information to their working groups where they were tasked with discussing and devising activities based on the thematic area assigned to the group while giving consideration to the main areas that must be addressed. Upon completion of the working group sessions, each of the groups presented their recommended activities which they wish to have included in the regional strategy for furthering the e-waste agenda. Some of the initiatives identified as necessary in addressing the current WEEE management status quo by the working groups included:
  • Execution of a regional assessment in order to ascertain the generation and stockpiles of the various categories of WEEE;
  • Creations of multi-stakeholder committees at the national and regional levels aimed at developing public-private partnerships in enhancing the
  • Enhancing public awareness and education through activities such as the development of a regional education package on WEEE;
  • Improving the collection of WEEE through better coordination of local-level entities tasked with national and/or state collection of white goods, including waste agencies and local brokers;
  • Creation and dissemination of regional guidelines for WEEE transportation, storage, data collection, export and facility/hub development; and more.
With the conclusion of the workshop, all of the group recommendations and comments, in addition to other issues and recommendations raised during the course of the three days would be incorporated into a comprehensive regional strategy for enhancing the ESM of WEEE in the Caribbean region. This strategy is to be developed by the BCRC-Caribbean for regional implementation along with key stakeholders across the region.

The final workshop report is available online via this hyperlink. To access all of the presentations made during the workshop, please click here. Photographs from the event can also be viewed by clicking here.