The SPAW-RAC is the Regional Activity Centre aimed at implementing the protocol concerning specially protected areas and wildlife in the Caribbean region (SPAW)  from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean Sea. 37 states and territories signed a regional maritime agreement in 1983, namely the Cartagena Convention for the protection and development of the marine environment in the Wider Caribbean Region (see the United Nations Environment Programme/Caribbean Environment Programme website on the subject). A number of themed protocols make up this Convention, with the SPAW protocol coming into force in 2000. The SPAW protocol therefore bears on marine and coastal biodiversity, not least natural habitats such as sea grass beds or coral reefs, marine species such as cetaceans or turtles, marine protected areas, etc (see section SPAW protocol).
When the SPAW protocol came into force, an agreement was signed between UNEP and France, entrusting the later with SPAW-RAC’s accommodation and porting. This agreement also details that the regional cooperation tool SPAW-RAC is placed under the authority of the Regional Coordination Unit for the United Nations Environment Programme based in Kingston (Jamaica), which ensures Cartagena Convention secretarial duties and protocol application, including SPAW. Thus, the regional cooperation tool SPAW-RAC has been based in Guadeloupe since 2000 and the French Government funds its operation costs and team. Under Guadeloupe’s Direction Régionale de l’Environnement [Regional Environmental Management], the SPAW-RAC was then hosted from 2005 onwards by an association, the Association Plan Mer des Caraïbes [Caribbean Sea Plan Association], notably involving French West Indies elected members. Since January 2009, the task of hosting the SPAW-RAC has been entrusted to the Parc National de Guadeloupe. The former remains under the aegis of the UNEP Regional Coordination Unit in Kingston. A local occupational and monitoring committee made up of a college of elected members, representatives of the French state and experts will soon be created to assess activities and actions led by the SPAW-RAC.