BARBADOS NEEDS ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT ACT

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Minister of Environment, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, addressing participants at a workshop on climate change at UN House.

If the Minister of Environment, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, gets her wish, Barbados could have an Environment Management Act sometime this year which would allow government to police some of the environmental concerns.

“Right now there is no legislation that would allow us to be able to intervene when we see cars that are not functioning properly and producing such dangerous emissions which pollute our atmosphere. This Act has been on the books for many years, but it has not been tabled; so, that is one of the things that we need to do as a matter of urgency…

“I am now in the process of trying to resuscitate that and, of course, we will then have to review it to see what is applicable to today. That is one of the things I would like to see done, certainly in this year,” Dr. Byer-Suckoo said.

She made the comments to the media yesterday after delivering an address at the opening of the four-day workshop on the Second National Communications and Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessments for Caribbean Countries at UN House.

She disclosed that she had already spoken to the Attorney General about the matter, explaining that without the legislation, government did not have the clout to enforce and dissuade folks from some of those practices that were harmful to the environment.

"There is a lot of burning that goes on in Barbados and not only is it a hazard to many people’s health, but it also damages our environment. But, because there is no legislation that speaks to it, all you can do is suggest kindly that they discontinue the practice,” she said.

During her address, the Minister said that given the degree of certainty now associated with the projected impacts of global warming and climate change, the identification and implementation of adaptation strategies were also necessary.

She noted that the planting of 80,000 trees, as much needed carbon sinks across the island, was one of the initiatives to be undertaken this financial year by her Ministry, through the National Conservation Commission. She explained that they would work with youth groups, community organisations and schools to encourage everyone to plant trees.

Dr. Byer-Suckoo told the participants that her Ministry, through the Coastal Zone Management Unit, was working closely with the Department of Emergency Management to enhance the island’s capacity to plan for and respond to natural hazards.

“Additionally, the government is integrating efficiency technologies in water distribution so as to better manage the use of this precious resource. The provision of tax relief for home repairs, and the development of a National Building Code, among other measures, may all be viewed as contributing to the overall national adaptation response to climate change,” she said.

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