Sat | Dec 5, 2020

Letter of the Day | Protect the environment for the next generations

Published:Tuesday | November 17, 2020 | 12:07 AM


This year, the Caribbean and Central America have been affected by a disastrous hurricane season. This and other global environmental disasters have shown that the effects of climate change are at our doorsteps. Caribbean countries have forged strategic partnerships such as the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). SIDS is a partnership framework that monitors and ensures partnerships for small-island development that involves climate action. Additionally, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) boasts its own climate centre, The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Even with these partnerships and agreements, there is still a lack of action to protect the environment. These strategic partnerships and regional organisations need to develop accountability mechanisms for member states.

The current leadership of Jamaica, who ran on promises of environment protection, has authorised mining in an undisturbed Jamaican coastline called Puerto Bueno. The National Environment and Planning Agency denied the application for mining, but a minister in the current leadership has overturned this. This is an example of the Government ignoring experts in the name of economic development and at the risk of the environment. This summer, we saw horrific images of flooding and other environmental devastation from Jamaica to St Kitts and Nevis to Trinidad and Tobago and others. This is only a small example of what is to come if Caribbean countries do not act to protect the environment.

The Jamaican people and youth especially (as we are the ones who will have to live with the long-term effects of climate change) are angry, and rightfully so. Climate change is too urgent an issue to have these organisations and strategic partnerships exist in name only. There must be mechanisms for accountability. States have sovereignty, yes, but when this works to damage a public good such as the environment, then partners and member states need to put pressure on governments to do better.