Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Earth Today | NEPA on mission to ‘green’ Jamaican businesses

Published:Thursday | May 3, 2018 | 12:07 AM
Daryl Vaz

NEARING ON a year since the launch of the Green Business Jamaica (GBJ) certification programme, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is continuing the push for companies to get behind ensuring economic gains are not realised at the expense of compromised natural resources.

The agency, on February 1, officially opened applications for the pilot phase of the programme, which provides businesses the chance to voluntarily infuse environmentally friendly processes into their operations, while practising high standards in pollution prevention and resource conservation, in line with international standards.

"A total of 21 facilities located in Kingston and St Andrew participated in the initial introductory meetings (last year). Facilities have shown keen interests in the programme. This is based on commitments made at the meetings and consultations. It is yet to be determined the total number of facilities that will be signed to the programme," NEPA said in response to Gleaner queries.

The agency has, meanwhile, received the certificates of registration for the GBJ trademark from the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office while two officers assigned to work directly on the pilot programme are engaged in training "to enhance their capacity to audit the pilot programme facilities".

"It is an online ISO 14001:2015 Internal Auditor training course," NEPA noted.

GBJ forms a part of efforts to help transition Jamaica into a green economy, and align with recommendations of the Green Economy Scoping Study done for the government two years ago, with support from the European Union and the United Nations Environment Programme, now UN Environment.


GBJ companies to get coaching


According to NEPA, the next few months will focus on the execution of programme activities/requirements by the voluntary participation of those stakeholders initially sensitised.

"Once an application is submitted, a GBJ coach will be assigned to the company to facilitate consultations, implementation of green initiatives and the measurements of progress towards green growth and improved business operations," NEPA said.

"It is anticipated that by the end of the financial year, there would be milestones achieved within the Kingston Metropolitan Area that can be the basis of promoting an expansion of the programme and sensitisation of the public to the social responsibility approach taken by these facilities, including the quality of the goods and services provided," it added.

The benefits of participation, NEPA said, are significant.


Financial perks


"There are financial advantages to be gained in the medium to long term as conservation measures are adapted, while contributing to diminished stress on the natural resources, such as soil, and water resources. However, there is marketing mileage or advantage to be gained when businesses that receive the GBJ certification can display a sign with an approved Eco-label logo, showing customers that they are doing their part to protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprint," the agency said.

"The use of the Eco-label will also be allowed on relevant products/packaging based on the scope of the certification, and a Green Business Directory maintained by GBJ," it added.

Aspects of GBJ are funded through a UN Environment Waste Minimisation project (US$137,000) and through its Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management project targeting the tourism sector (US$70,000).

"This voluntary step to make your businesses more environmentally friendly shows a willingness to support the development of our country and growth of the gross domestic product in a manner that facilitates sustainable consumption and production," encouraged Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, speaking at the GBJ launch last May.