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Earth Today | Environmentalists ID 2018 priorities

Jamaica Gleaner / THERE IS an English language proverb which reads, ‘if wishes were horses, beggars would ride’. Translated, it means that if wishing for things could make them true, even the poor would have all they need.

This week, as 2017 nears a close, Earth Today spotlights the conservation wishes of three women for 2018. However, for them, these wishes constitute more than wishful thinking as their work is to make them true.

 

WISHES  

Suzanne Stanley, deputy CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust:

– Any action which will translate to achieving JET’s vision which is that Jamaicans are knowledgeable and concerned about the environment and this is reflected in their lifestyles and behaviour.

– Environmental issues are a high priority and an integral part of national development objective.

– Natural areas are valued, protected and properly managed.

Emma Lewis, blogger:

– Continued and strengthened focus on climate change adaptation, especially in coastal areas and in the agricultural sector.

– Much tighter enforcement of existing environmental laws, development plans and regulations.

– Greater focus on eco-tourism combined with heritage tourism, as opposed to the mass market model that has caused considerable damage to our environment.

– The private sector becomes more eco-conscious, in support of ongoing efforts by the government.

– Stepped-up research, scientific data and information sharing on the state of our marine environment, in particular plastics and other forms of pollution.

Eleanor Jones, chairman and consulting principal of Environmental Solutions Limited:

– Environmental due diligence to accompany development initiatives in all sectors. Environment and development are NOT mutually exclusive and environmental considerations entail far more than environmental impact assessments and permitting.

– Results-orientation in public sector decision-making.

– More concerted action to build on foundations, reduced circularity and talk.

 

GOV’T PRIORITIES  

Meanwhile, the trio has identified for government a set of priorities for 2018 that not only line up with their own wishes but which, to their minds, also puts Jamaica in position to take advantage of its prosperity prospects.

For Stanley, at the top of the list is solid waste management.

“Improving Jamaica’s system for solid waste management MUST be a priority for 2018. An integrated approach to tackling one of, if not the biggest environmental issue, in Jamaica must be taken, including improved infrastructure – more garbage trucks, more bins in public spaces, improved institutional arrangements – more frequent and scheduled collection, and an adequately resourced National Solid Waste Management Authority, improved legislation and greater enforcement of anti-litter/anti-dumping laws, and public education to support the entire system,” said the deputy CEO, whose organisation is running the ‘Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica’ campaign.

She also identified as priorities the use of existing legislation to designate Jamaica’s newest protected area, the Cockpit Country, which is responsible for some 40 per cent of the island’s freshwater resources; and the development of management plans for the Goat Islands Wildlife Sanctuary and Blue Lagoon National Monument.

Lewis agreed on solid waste management as being especially important.

“The government’s top priority in the new year should be all aspects of solid waste management – in particular dealing with plastic and Styrofoam. If necessary, sensible legislation should be implemented as soon as possible. Greater investment in this area is urgently needed,” she said.

“We also need more convincing buy-in and commitment from the private sector; we know that both large and small businesses regularly breach environmental laws,” the blogger added.

For Jones, they are “water security; integrated waste management; climate resilience and risk reduction’; public-private partnerships and results-oriented public sector management”.

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