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International Conference on Sargassum to Launch an Ambitious Cooperation Program in the Caribbean

International Conference on Sargassum to Launch an Ambitious Cooperation Program in the Caribbean

Article of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe

Since 2011, the coastal regions of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico have faced an unprecedented natural phenomenon: the massive and recurrent stranding of sargassum seaweed. Indeed, the magnitude and persistence of these strandings differ from previous waves. Seaweed degradation causes significant releases of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, leading to the closure of beaches and the evacuation of coastal populations, thus exposing the regions concerned to a critical economic, environmental and health situation. In addition, studies show that the stranding and stagnation of seaweed mats have negative consequences on marine ecosystems and natural aquatic environments (mangroves, river).

In view of this situation threatening the countries of the Caribbean basin, the Guadeloupe Region, within the framework of its competence in matters of decentralized cooperation and its recent accession to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (O.E.C.O.), has initiated a Caribbean Cooperation Program against Sargassum (SARG'COOP) aimed at determining the state of the art of science and technology, improving the sharing of knowledge and existing expertise, experiments and tools used in the Caribbean and in the regions affected by this phenomenon. This program, financed by INTERREG Caribbean, includes partners such as the local authorities of French Guiana, Martinique, Saint-Barths and Saint-Martin, the French government (Ministries of Overseas France, Ecological and Solidarity Transition and Higher Education, Research and Innovation) and the ACS (Association of Caribbean States), OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States), the Dominican Republic, Mexico, ADEME (Environment and Energy Management Agency), AFD (French Development Agency), AFB (French Biodiversity Agency), ANR (National Research Agency) and Université des Antilles.

The aim of this cooperation program is to strengthen cooperation in the realm of the protection of the environment among Caribbean states and territories. In the medium term, the objective is to significantly improve the resilience of island territories affected by this natural phenomenon, which seems to be linked to increasing polluting human activities and climate change.

To this end, a Caribbean Sargassum Forum will bring together governments and local authorities, civil societies, companies, researchers and academics involved in the Sargassum issue. This network of experts will make available to the public, through an Internet platform, state of the art of science and technology, the national and regional plans put in place, both successful and unsuccessful actions, innovative processes, etc. in all areas related to Sargassum: prediction, prevention of strandings, collection, storage, treatment and recycling. As an aggregator, it will be based in particular on the existing initiatives that already bring together various stakeholders.

In addition, a Caribbean Monitoring and Warning Center will be set up to better anticipate strandings and manage risks if necessary. The center will be based on an innovative remote sensing tool enabling the partners to anticipate strandings and adapt their public (communication with the population, evacuations, preparation of collection teams, etc.) and private (for companies dependent on strandings for their economic activity) actions. An air quality measurement network will be put in place, similar to those developed by Gwad'air and Madinin'air. This Caribbean network will provide information on air quality based on strandings throughout the Caribbean. A common risk scale will be used to guide public authorities in necessary preventive and prescriptive measures. The data produced by the Center will then be translated into newsletters offering a decision-making tool, with exchange, training and awareness-raising for partners. These two tools will make it possible to pool, co-construct and disseminate monitoring, Sargassum risk prevention and climate change adaptation approaches.

International Conference on Sargassum

This Cooperation Program will be launched at the International Conference on Sargassum to be held from October 23rd to 26th at the Complexe World Trade Center (CWTC) in Baie-Mahault, Guadeloupe. This conference aims to lay the foundations for efficient and pragmatic cooperation in order to provide functional and operational responses to Sargassum stranding that has become recurrent. It will bring together Heads of State, heads of regional and international organisations, companies, members of the civil society, researchers and academics from the Caribbean. 

The Conference intends to put the issue on the international political agenda and mobilize international resources to stem the harmful effects of massive Sargassum strandings. It will also provide an opportunity for the Caribbean Sargassum Forum network of experts to meet for the first time and begin its work. Indeed, the actors present will have the opportunity to share their feedback, acquire, circulate and exchange technical and scientific expertise, at the scale of the Caribbean basin. 

The first day will be devoted to the state of knowledge on Sargassum and remote sensing. On this occasion, the winners of the "Sargassum" Call for Projects will be announced. The second day will be dedicated to sharing experiences and highlighting fighting, , collecting and recycling strategies in the territories. Finally, the last day, which will be of an institutional nature, will bring together Caribbean Heads of State as well as regional and international organisations and will provide an opportunity to reflect on the definition of a common geopolitical strategy.

This event is completely free and open to the public. It will be a real opportunity for citizens, associations, companies, communities and governments to come together in one place to address this issue that affects them at different levels.

Brief program of the Conference

October 23, 2019 - 6pm - Université des Antilles

Day: Sarg'Net network meeting: consolidation and organisation

Evening: Screening of the film: " Algues brunes et idées vertes " (Brown Seaweed and Green Ideas) in the presence of Frédéric Tyrode Saint-Louis, followed by a debate with the audience, representatives of institutions and the producer and actors of the film.

October 24, 2019 - CWTC 

Morning: What we know about Sargassum seaweed: biological, ecological, and oceanographic data.

Afternoon: Presentation of the results and winners of the international call for projects (AAP) on Sargassum.

Evening: televised debate "Differing perspectives on the impact of Sargassum on daily life in the Caribbean".

 October 25, 2019 - CWTC

Presentation of the different strategies adopted by the territories to organize the fight against  Sargassum invasion.

Throughout the day, three workshops with round tables will be organized on the following themes:

  • Sargassum collection and recycling techniques

  • Impacts of Sargassum invasion with a focus on recycling in the Dominican Republic and Mexico

  • Financing methods that can be mobilized

Evening: Conference on the theme "How to make the Sargassum problem heard internationally?" in the presence of an international personality committed to the defense of the environment (Université des Antilles).

October 26, 2019 - CWTC

This day dedicated to geopolitical strategy and international issues aims to identify international and regional initiatives to combat harmful seaweed and design a common regional strategy to enable territories to adopt a development approach resilient to climate change.         

Sarg'Expo - first trade show

Concurrent with the Conference, the first international trade show, Sarg'Expo, will bring together international companies presenting innovative techniques for forecasting, monitoring, surveillance, collection and recycling of Sargassum seaweed.

It will provide exceptional visibility for Caribbean and international companies presenting proven solutions to decision-makers throughout the Caribbean and to the general public. It aims to widely disseminate operational innovations to manage Sargassum seaweed stranding.

Demonstrations, mini-conferences and round tables will be organized throughout the trade show, which takes place in the same location as the Conference and is also open to the public.

More information on the International Sargassum Conference: 
More information on Sarg'Expo: 

Contact us
OECS Communications Unit Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
Coline MARCHINI Project Manager for Innovation and Internationalisation, Regional Council of Guadeloupe
OECS Communications Unit Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
Coline MARCHINI Project Manager for Innovation and Internationalisation, Regional Council of Guadeloupe
About The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

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The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an International Organisation dedicated to economic harmonisation and integration, protection of human and legal rights, and the encouragement of good governance among independent and non-independent countries in the Eastern Caribbean. The OECS came into being on June 18th 1981, when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty agreeing to cooperate with each other while promoting unity and solidarity among its Members. The Treaty became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, so named in honour of the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis where it was signed. The OECS today, currently has eleven members, spread across the Eastern Caribbean comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Martinique and Guadeloupe. 

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
Morne Fortune
Saint Lucia