A Good-News Story
The Barbados Free Press has been extremely critical of the government’s failure to make preservation and protection of the environment a priority for Barbados. Our criticism has not been without cause and will continue where we see the need – but today, we are pleased to be able to report what could turn out to be a good news environmental story for Barbados.
… Perhaps even a major good-news environmental story IF the government follows up it’s good intentions with action.
Barbados Minister of the Environment Elizabeth Thompson is attending a major United Nations environmental conference being held in Bejing China – and she is providing the opening address at the high level Ministers meeting. (We hope that Minister Thompson’s address is released to the media on the day she gives it. Can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be.)
There are those who would say “It’s just another conference where the elites drink wine, eat pate and accomplish nothing but some P.R.”
That is not our position.
These international environmental conferences are important not only because they raise important issues in the public and political consciousness, but also because the lower level staff – the soldiers, the doers – get to meet and learn from each other.
This conference is so timely and important for Barbados because it is all about the health of coastal waters and how they are impacted by what happens on land.
From the United Nations Environment Programme Website (link here) …
The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities is the only intergovernmental programme that addresses the inter-linkages between freshwater and the coastal environment
The major threats to the health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine environment result from human activities on land – in coastal areas and further inland. Some 80% of the pollution load in the oceans originates from land-based activities. This includes municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes and run-off, as well as atmospheric deposition. These contaminants affect the most productive areas of the marine environment, including estuaries and near-shore coastal waters. The marine environment is also threatened by physical alterations of the coastal zone, including destruction of habitats of vital importance to maintain ecosystem health.
Graeme Hall National Park Would Be An International Showpiece Of Coastal Environmental Protection
Minister Thompson might want to consider that the establishment of Graeme Hall National Park would be seen internationally as a showpiece of coastal environmental protection by a small island nation – and tangible evidence of a national commitment to a clean and pleasant environment throughout Barbados.
Graeme Hall National Park would also do much to counter a growing perception in the travel industry that Barbados is becoming an over-developed destination with nothing to offer but condos and beaches.
We wish the Environment Minister and her staff well, and pray that they have a safe, productive and worthwhile trip. (And yes, for a long haul like Barbados – China, we hope that the Minister and her staff are flying business class so they can arrive in better shape than would be the case if they were suffering the 20 hours in coach.)
From the Barbados Advocate (link here)…MINISTER of the Environment, Elizabeth Thompson, will soon be heading to China to attend the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA).
The five-day meeting, the second of the Intergovernmental Review Meetings (IGR) of the GPA, will be held in Beijing from Monday, October 16 to Friday, October 20. As its name suggests, the raison dêtre of the GPA is the prevention of the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities, by facilitating the duty of states to preserve and protect the marine environment.
The GPA was first adopted by 108 governments in 1995. When the first IGR was held in 2001, the main issue was to assess the implementation of the programme. This year, the focus is on the framework that will guide the GPA Coordination Office over the next five years.
An invitation from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) led to Ms. Thompson acting as a member of the UNEP/GPA IGR-2 High Level Steering Committee, which oversees preparations for this year’s meeting. She will also give the opening address at the High Level Ministerial segment of the meeting.
Anthony Headley, Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Department, will also attend. The Government of Barbados has also been invited to Chair the opening session on the National Implementation in Action, and to participate in the Partnership on Information Portal Waste Management for Small Island Developing States.