PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has reiterated Jamaica’s commitment to protecting the environment through the continuous strengthening of management policies that are designed to be comprehensive and sustainable.

“Over the last few years, the Government has undertaken extensive work on progressively strengthening our environmental governance framework. We have finalised several key national environmental policies, including, for example, a climate change policy framework, a forest policy, a water sector policy and action plan, an ocean and coastal zone management policy and a national policy on environmental management systems,” he said.

The prime minister, who was addressing a virtual World Oceans Day 2021 Panel Discussion on Wednesday, said Jamaica’s environmental policy framework is designed to respond to our “national priorities, emerging risks and… to fulfil our multilateral environmental commitments”.

He said that the Government is also in the process of finalising other subject-specific policies, including a national policy on the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste, watershed management policies, a protected areas policy, beach access and management policy, and an emissions policy framework to address all sources of air pollution.

He added that a wildlife trade policy and a national biosafety policy are also being developed.

“These policies will, in turn, inform the country’s environmental and legislative framework, which, itself, is being transformed to make it more modern and relevant and more responsive to the national circumstances and priorities,” he said.

Holness noted that a new Fisheries Act was passed and several pieces of environmental legislation are now in the process of being amended, including the country’s primary environmental legislation – the National Resources Conservation Authority Act.

“We are fairly comprehensive in what we are doing in managing our environment. At the end of the day, it all comes down to two things – the commitment of the Government and the resources available to the country. Right now, our commitment may be a little higher than our resources, but we still remain committed and we are placing the resources to back our commitment,” he stressed.

The panel discussion was held as part of activities to mark United Nations World Oceans Day which was held under the theme ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’.

Jamaica Observer