'Be realistic about sustainable development'
Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
CLINTON THOMPSON, commissioner of the Mines and Geology Division, has called on environmentalists to be balanced when they lobby for sustainable development.
"We have to be realistic," Thompson said, charging that "many environmentalists go around with this mentality which states, 'I love omelettes, but don't break the egg'".
"The building of roads and infrastructure will not be pristine - there will be some impact - but what is important is that we carry out our restoration activities and try as best as possible to minimise those impacts," the commissioner said.
Environmentalists have been chiding the Government for not doing enough to protect the natural resources, some arguing that the way mining and development activities are being undertaken could adversely affect the environment.
But Thompson, in a recent interview with The Gleaner, said best practices are followed in the roll-out of developmental projects. He said, for example, that a new international inter-governmental forum on mining, minerals, metals, and sustainable development policy is being developed. The proposed policy insists that sustainable factors must be integral in all mining activities.
The policy states that the management of the natural resource base within ecosystems is the continuous responsibility of any society seeking to become more sustainable.
Thompson, however, was quick to point out that the division, along with other stakeholders had always taken environment matters into consideration.
"To begin, we can't grant any mining licence without the input of stakeholders, more so NEPA (National Environment Planning Agency). Certainly, from I have been here, we have never granted a permit without the approval of the relevant agencies," he declared.
"It is never easy, but we have never behaved as if environ-mental factors are not important. Our approach could have been different in the past in terms of consultation, and so we learn, and we have been addressing that. The truth is, 30 years ago, no one knew the word environment, however, in recent times, we have recognised the changes that are taking place globally, and so we have made efforts to protect our environment because there will be negative impacts," Thompson told The Gleaner.
While admitting that the concept of sustainable develop-ment was not embraced three decades ago, the Mines and Geology head said that the approach now adopted takes into consideration the impact mining and related activities could have on the environment.
"What I would love to see coming from our environ-mentalists is a collaborative effort. I invite all of them to be part of the dialogue and tell us their ideas and strategies as to how go about future projects because at the end of the day, we are all citizens here and we all have a say," Thompson said.