Safeguarding the Environment High Priority of Govt.


Government’s efforts at safeguarding the environment against damage caused by harmful and hazardous substances are being pivoted on legislations, plans and conventions, which have either been promulgated, are being pursued or to which Jamaica is a party.
Senior Director in the Environmental Management Division of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Leonie Barnaby, says these are intended to establish the framework to guide the manner in which industries conduct businesses, relative to environmental preservation.
The Senior Director outlined details of the various provisions while addressing the recent launch of the European Union (EU) funded ‘Capacity Building of Caribbean Private Sector Environmental and Energy Management Capabilities’ project, being undertaken by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in New Kingston.
Funded at a cost of 790,818 pound ($82 million), the project will include an assessment of the policy framework for energy and environmental management, relative to the private sector, and establishing practices at the firm level, with a view to developing action plans, and mapping the way forward for the private and public sectors.
Ms. Barnaby said that already in force, is the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Air Quality Regulations, promulgated in 2006, which stipulate that major industrial facilities must apply to the Natural Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for an air pollutant discharge licence. She informed that, to date, NEPA has granted 31 such licences.
In addition to this, she informed that the Natural Resources Conservation Waste Water and Sludge regulations are also being developed. These, she explained, would establish the stipulated framework governing the manner in which solid waste and waste water are treated and disposed.
“We are a resource-based country and we cannot afford to destroy (our) natural resources as they relate to the health of the population and climate change adaptation. Hence we do require regulations and we need to have collaborations with the private sector (to this end),” she said.
Two notable plans, which Ms. Barnaby indicated have been approved by the Cabinet are: the National Biodiversity and Strategy Plan, and the National Plan of Action on Land-based Resources and Activities of Marine Pollution. Additionally, she advised that finalisation of the Protected Areas System Master Plan is also “imminent,” pointing out that “we are hoping that we will see private sector involvement in the implementation of that plan.”
On the matter of biodiversity, Ms. Barnaby cited a survey conducted by the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), on biodiversity’s relevance and importance to the private sector, and the risks entities face from reduced biodiversity, and actions taken to address the matter.
“One of the findings was that the majority of executives, 59 per cent, saw bio-diversity as more of an opportunity than a risk for their companies. They saw opportunities, such as bolstering their corporate reputations; they saw that consumers could help them; and they also saw that they could look at new products and ideas from renewable natural resources,” she said.
Ms. Barnaby advised that Jamaica is also party to several multilateral agreements, which address a wide range of environmental issues. These include: the Climate Change Convention; the Kyoto Protocol; and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Additionally, she pointed out that Jamaica is also party to chemicals-related conventions, such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste, and their disposal.
She pointed out that implementation of these agreements at the national level, usually necessitates the enactment of legislation, adding that many of these instruments facilitate development of national implementation or action plans.
“We note that, in many cases at the international level, the private sector is actively involved in the negotiation process, both at the regional and international levels, and many delegations of developed countries include private sector or industry representation, because these negotiations have implications for how business is conducted in the marketplace. Again, we would like to invite some interest from the private sector in those negotiations,” Ms. Barnaby urged.

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