Manage environment properly
April 21, 2006
Manage environment properly

Although there has been marked improvement over the last decade, David Popo of the Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS) believes that there is a large amount of work still to be done before environmental management is etched in the mainstream of governmental policies, and given general consideration in the OECS countries specifically and the Caribbean region on a whole.

Frankly put, Popo admitted that to a large extent, the OECS member states are not where they should be as regards environmental management.

Popo was in St Vincent last Wednesday, April 12 for the consultation hosted by the Ministry of Health to discuss the revised edition of the 25-year-old St George’s declaration.{{more}}

The revised Environmental Management Policy, built on 21 policies for the sustainability of the environment in the OECS, is expected to be signed June 18th in Basseterre, St Kitts; the place of its original implementation by the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States OECS) 25 years ago.

Cause for celebration

Popo believes that the environment suffers in importance for the common man, when compared to other pressing matters like crime and financial concerns. He however pointed out developments in the Tobago Cays management as cause for celebration among the champions of the cause of the environment.

“It is the local guys like the fishermen, divers and so on who expressed concern over the management of the Tobago cays” stated an impressed Popo. He said that he believed the tourism players in Union Island by and large recognized the importance of protecting the beautiful natural resources of the Tobago Cays.

Citing education as the key to changing the negative behavior patterns towards the environment, Popo however conceded that more relevant legislative measures need to deal with abusers of the environment. “Our legal framework is weak when it comes to the environment.” The seasoned OECS official, who hails from St Lucia sees the need for us to be more legislatively in line with developed nations where individuals and companies can be more appropriately held accountable for abuse of the environment.

Also high on the list of problems to be dealt with is the harmonizing of the environmental standards not just in the OECS, but also the wider Caribbean in view of our continued push towards integration.

Environmental Services Coordinator in the Ministry of Health, Edmund Jackson shared Popo’s view concerning the need for legislative reform. “If we have to properly manage the environment there must be a clear legislative framework by which everyone can now be guided,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

Adding to the problem is the difficulty experienced when trying to coordinate the various departments, government ministries and other players on environmental issues. There is also a great lack in the skilled personnel needed to administer various tests and collect important data. Jackson is however encouraged by the increase in persons either pursuing or expressing interest in environmental studies at the tertiary level. “We must have more trained persons working in this field if there is to be proper management.”