Mon | Sep 25, 2023

Progress, not victory

Published:Thursday | January 6, 2022 | 12:05 AM


In your article ‘JET, Opposition demand buffer zone on Cockpit Country’ published on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) was quoted as saying the National Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) decision for SML 173 was a “small victory”. In fact, what we said in our statement that was released on January 4, 2022 was that JET viewed the decision as “progress, but not victory”. We noted the original application for the environmental permit was 8,335 hectares and what was being released for mining was now 1, 324 hectares. This area is still considered to be in Cockpit Country by many, including JET, even though it is not included in the Government of Jamaica’s (GOJ) Cockpit Country Area Proposed for Protection.

We would like to use this opportunity to clarify, that for us to consider a decision by the NRCA as a victory, the following would have to be done:

• The entire Cockpit Country Stakeholder Group boundary, which was recommended in a study by Webber and Noel (2013), declared as the Cockpit Country Protected Area. This area would be closed to mining, would include a buffer zone and would be gazetted for legal protection.

• The GOJ would begin urgently phasing Jamaica out of this sunset extractive industry by developing a transition plan.

Finally, due to the climate crisis, protection of the environment is more important than ever. Our health, our livelihoods, our safety and the Jamaican economy depend on a healthy environment. The GOJ must honour the commitments made both at the international level and contained in Jamaica’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms for guaranteeing all Jamaicans the right to: ‘Enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from the threat of injury or damage from environmental abuse and degradation of the ecological heritage’.