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'Do more to enforce environment laws'

Published:Saturday | July 30, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Therese Turner Jones (left), Country Representative, Inter-American Development Bank, presents Marcus James, CEO, Access Financial Services Ltd., with the Award for “Excellence in Microfinance – Product Innovation”.

Therese Turner Jones, general manager at Caribbean Country Department at the Inter-American Development Bank, is urging policymakers to do more in ensuring that environmental licences and frameworks are enforced in order to build climate resilience and sustainable infrastructure.

Addressing the Caribbean Regional Policy Dialogue on Environmental Licensing and Compliance forum held at The Pegasus Jamaica hotel, New Kingston, recently, she said that with the fragility that the region experiences, in terms of its challenges with climate change, a platform is created for the Caribbean to work together to strengthen its resilience.

"The Caribbean Sea connects 16 countries that share similar economic, social and environmental features. Yet, differences in historical, political, and geographic contexts among the islands and continental countries have precluded a uniformed approach to environmental governance and safeguard policies to address latent challenges. Here we have an opportunity to do that together," she said.

"While environmental licensing and enforcement authorities strive to maintain the capacity to prescribe appropriate requirements and consistently enforce them, more can still be done and, certainly, more can be learned from each other."

Turner Jones continued, "It is in this context that we hope that countries can take the time and make the effort to strengthen institutional frameworks. We must seek new approaches to provide incentives for clean production, climate resilience and sustainable infrastructure, and proactively streamline and remove barriers to new investments without reducing the effectiveness of environmental and social protections."

Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio with responsibility for environment in the Office of the Prime Minister, said enforcing environmental policies is of critical importance, especially with the Government's thrust to embrace sustainable growth.

The minister, however, indicated that there continues to be a struggle for developers to adhere to sustainable practices. He reassured persons that as leaders, more will be done to preserve the environment.

"As the minister with responsibility for the environment, I am seized with the fact that while we pursue development projects for the benefit of Jamaica and create jobs for Jamaicans, it is absolutely critical for us to preserve and conserve our environment and the natural resources with which we are blessed," Vaz said.

"As you know, regulatory agencies depend on the voluntary compliance by developers, with the terms and conditions of permits and licenses. However, it is a well-known fact that some developers fail to comply with these terms and conditions."

He charged, "As such, the Government has been forced to develop a monitoring and enforcement response which comprises strong punitive action, including reference to the courts."