'Government needs to come clean'
Diana McCaulay, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), says the latest episode in the Goat Islands saga clearly demonstrates Government's lack of clarity about sustainable development.
McCaulay was reacting to the revelation that Government has requested a deferment in its application for the Portland Bight site, within which the Goat Islands are found, to be named a biosphere reserve.
"After putting all this effort into applying for this status in the area, I mean why would the Government now back out of it?" she asked.
"The Government needs to come clean about what is really happening."
Professor Ronnie Young, chairman of the Science Advisory Committee of UNESCO, said he was yet to be advised officially of the change. This notwithstanding, he said he was advised to cancel a committee meeting set for December 11 but still went ahead with it.
While he has also heard whispers, the failure of the Government to inform the many stakeholders of its latest decision has also left him to question its commitment to sustainable development in respect of the environment.
"I have seen nothing in writing," he admitted.
On the question of whether he thought the deferral was designed to buy more time for the State, Young said: "Now I don't know if that is the intention of the Government or what, but I don't think that I am too far off to infer that is the purpose of the deferral."
Ingrid Parchment, executive director of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, views the Government's 'cloak and dagger' approach to the situation as insensitive and downright disrespectful to the many stakeholders who laboured for years on the project.
"We have been working on this thing for a very long time at different levels. We've been circulating the nomination form, participating in meetings in Paris (France), in Central and South America, even here in Jamaica. When we recognised that there were some issues, we dotted the Is and crossed the Ts, so for the ministry to send off a letter to Paris without any consultation or conversation with us goes against everything."