Minister of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe

Inadequate legislation, a dearth of research and inaccessible technical and financial resources have been cited as the major challenges which impinge on Caribbean countries’ abilities to attain sustainable development, particularly sound chemicals management.

Despite these challenges, however, they have been urged to work towards this “noble” goal. 

“In spite of the challenges, we must press on. For the goal that we seek is a noble one; one that we cannot afford to fail to achieve. If we do, our children and their children are the ones who will pay the price,” implored Minister of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe. 

He was at the time delivering an address to a Caribbean Workshop on the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and Related Chemicals and Hazardous Waste Management Instruments at Grand Barbados Beach Resort.

Dr. Lowe, in itemising the regional challenges, noted that, despite progress made, many countries lacked adequate legislation to effectively control the production, importation, use, storage and disposal of chemicals.

“In most cases, the development of such legislation is a protracted process. Unfortunately, Barbados is also guilty in this regard,” he disclosed.

Concerning the issue of the research, the Minister cited the absence of studies on the impacts that chemicals such as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), mercury and lead had on human capital and environmental resources. Such information, he underscored, “would buttress efforts to engender greater environmental stewardship”.

“Finally, of utmost importance to Small Island Developing States such as Barbados, is the need for access to technical and financial resources to facilitate successful implementation of initiatives geared towards sustainable development, including the sound management of chemicals,” he added.

In addition to the need for an enabling environment, Minister Lowe also highlighted the need for a synergistic approach within the region as well as internationally.
“We cannot do it alone! In this existing environment, we need to work even closer together to ensure that limited resources, whether financial, technological or human are utilised efficiently and effectively…Policy co-ordination across the sectors at both national and international levels is important to ensure effective management of risks throughout the chemical life-cycle, from production through to disposal,” he concluded.

The four-day workshop is being spearheaded by the Environmental Protection Department, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Organisation of American States. It has attracted representatives from some 15 Caribbean countries including Belize, the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname, as well as extra-regionally, namely as far away as Finland.

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