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    OECS Needs to Get Serious About Environmental Management

    By Keith R | September 28, 2007

    Topics: Environmental Governance, Environmental Protection | No Comments »

          
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    Temas Foreword: The OECS is a collection of nine small island states (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and territories (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat) in the Eastern Caribbean that cooperate in a variety of areas, including the environment (wastes, watershed management, environmental planning, etc.).  The central set of OECS environmental commitments are enshrined in the 2000 St. George's Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability.

    From the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS):

    OECS Secretariat Signal’s Urgency for Increased Support for Environmental Management Principles

    The OECS Secretariat says there is need for persistence and increased acceptance of the Principals of Environmental Sustainability for the OECS, enshrined in the St. George’s Declaration. (SGD)

    To this end the OECS Secretariat is further pushing the urgency for more buy-in and collaboration to help ensure effective environmental awareness and management in the region.

    Programme Officer of the OECS Secretariat’s Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) Peter A. Murray believes that the method and results of implementation, awareness, coordination and reporting determines the usefulness of the SGD:“It was seen that in the first instance we look at the St. Georges Declaration in a five-year context. That has passed. We have revised it and made it more strategic. The targets set are in keeping with international targets such as the Millennium Development Goals. These targets are cited to be met by 2010. We are now at the latter half of 2007. So there is a measure of urgency as defined by the countries themselves.”

    Murray was among several Environmental Management lead persons at a recent regional training workshop in Castries for National Reporting on implementing the revised St. George’s Declaration (SGD). Such workshops normally review prepared reports as well as lessons that can be learnt, build the capacity of focal points and key resource people to lead and facilitate the process of report preparation and provide training to assist local processes. Discussions evaluated the effectiveness of the SGD in improving environmental management for sustainable development throughout the region.  Murray believes that a more useful SGD reporting tool will yield a more co-ordinated approach as the advantages and the linkages in environmental management become more visible. “If the report is prepared at a level that is optimal, it should allow people to see the usefulness of the process and therefore buy-in to the process. In so doing you move an ever increasing spiral of efficiency.” Murray noted that at this juncture it is critical to sustain the momentum and ensure that all Member States are able to produce a national report on time for review at the next meeting of the OECS Environment Policy Committee (EPC) in November 2007.

    Lynda Varlack, an Environmental Management officer in the British Virgin Islands, remarked that the challenges faced by focal points in dealing with the revised SGD should be manageable: “It’s been different reporting on this revised declaration as opposed to the initial one. The initial one had principles which were quite comprehensive and very well pronounced but they were so extensive that it wound up being difficult for us to incorporate them into work programmes. We are now looking at it from a more coordinated point of view. There are four distinct goals. It is now a lot easier for us to look at all the other obligations including multilateral environmental agreements. This workshop and other related activities have provided more clarity, facilitating the production of a report on environmental management in the OECS. The whole exercise of reporting on the revised declaration is very useful and we are making significant and important plans on future reporting.”

    Environmental Protection Officer in Grenada, Chris Christopher regards the revised SGD reporting tool as a significant asset towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):“The eight MDG’s cover a range of issues and in the context of the revised SGD there are a number of different stakeholders that are involved in implementing and executing programmes and initiatives under the MDG. Completing this report gives us an opportunity to bring all those stakeholders together in a participatory approach and allows us to gage the process that has been made through the different agencies towards achieving the objectives of the MDGs. There are obviously some challenges. I think we are on track. ”

    Consultant Yves Renard presided over the training workshop which attracted 22 delegates from government and other stakeholder groups across OECS Member States. The SGD’s Principles for Environmental Sustainability in the OECS was endorsed by the OECS EPC in November of 2000 and was officially launched on April 10th 2001, when OECS Member Governments signed the document at a ceremony in Castries, St. Lucia.

     

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