Last update: 10-Dec-2013 1:42 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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More thought needed for world environment
Development must go hand in hand with environmental considerations for sake of the world’s population and future generations.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI) deputy director Elizabeth Maruma Mrema made the point during an exclusive interview with the T&T Guardian earlier this month in Montego Bay, Jamaica during UNEP’s second Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connections (GLOC-2.)
Mrema explained that while governments seek to develop their countries it is equally important that consideration be given to environment and oceanic impact.
“For countries like Jamaica, the ocean is where the food is, it is where the lifeline is and the government cannot ignore.
“What we are saying is yes, development is important we encourage government to do that for its population, but it must be able to do it tantamount (and) together with environmental considerations,” she contended.
Mrema called for all global citizens to work together to take action on the ground to be able to better preserve and protect the marine environment. She said countries must be proactive rather than reactive in their approach to environmental challenges.
“It will cost the countries more by being reactive, because by the time we react to the pollution, damage will be created and some of the damage is irreparable, we cannot go back. We (had) better be proactive in action and mitigate. Mitigation must be in place to protect the environment. The impact will be long term and to recover might not be possible,” Mrema stressed.
The DEPI deputy director said that it is critical for countries, especially Caribbean nations, to make the environment a part of their developmental plans to ensure its preservation for future generations.
“Where there is environmental impact let (it) be assessed. Remedial measures, mitigation measures be identified so that development and mitigation go together to end up with a win/win situation.
It will be benefical for the country, because then the development will be for long term as opposed to short term,” she said.
Mrema suggested that when the environment is completely spoiled then there will be nothing to benefit from, “but building environmental considerations from the beginning, early enough in development (the environment) will stay in a long time.”
The GLOC 2, which was attended by scientists, environmentals, government officials and non-governmental environmental agencies, focused on emerging environmental issues.
The three main themes of the conference were; marine litter, nutrient pollution and wastewater management. Mrema said the intention of the conference was to facilitate a platform where various interest groups could meet and share different experiences and lessons learned.
“In so doing they are helping to identify the way forward and solutions, in terms of how do we deal with the pollution in our oceans,” she said.
Mrema admitted that there is still a lot of work to be done to get people to change their behaviour towards the environment and that, she said, comes with environmental awareness.
“The awareness is a continuous process. Children are born and growing so it is a continuous programme that will never end,” she said.
Mrema admitted that funding for environmental programmes at the UN is a challenge.
“UNEP faces more challenges. Unlike many other UN agencies our financial stability depends on the will of governments, will in the sense that 100 per cent of our funding is voluntary contribution and not assessed contributions.
So with voluntary contributions it is difficult to plan on a long term. We are at the mercy of donor countries and friendly countries, so that explains the challenge our organisation faces,” she explained.
However Mrema said with the limited resources at UNEP and DEPI are able to work with various organisations on addressing critical environmental issues.
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