Lawyer Urges Passage Of Bahamas Environmental Protection Act
A leading environmental lawyer and consultant for Save The Bays has called for the urgent passage of an environmental protection act, saying it will not only protect a fragile and often threatened environment but could lead to new economic prosperity by unleashing a host of profitable enterprises.
Romauld Ferreira, popular TV show host and one of the Caribbean’s top environmental lawyers, said legislation and regulations that protect the environment “provide governments with the ability to develop industry in a manner which is sustainable and respects the environment.” Further, he said, legislation that protects also enables – unlocking incentives for the development of clean energy, green solutions, prudent waste management and construction without destruction.
Ferreira was addressing the National Environmental Conclave, a by-invitation-only, three day workshop organized by the Ministry of the Environment in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, one of nearly 15 Save The Bays community partners.
“Our environmental legislative framework ought to consist of primary legislation attended to by secondary legislation establishing regulatory standards for all activities which impact the environment and giving the government the flexibility to respond in a timely manner,” Ferreira told participants.
Without such a framework, unregulated development will continue to plague the country, with developers plowing ahead, sometimes without permits and oversight, without the public having an opportunity to comment on something that will change their very lifestyle, without retribution for felling protected trees or slashing mangroves and scouring wetlands.
Today, said Ferreira who has worked with leading international firms as an environmental attorney and consultant on several projects financed by the IDB and other international entities throughout the region, eight separate pieces of legislation are intended to deal with environmental matters. But without stiff regulations or dedicated resources, they are often ignored and compliance is far from ideal.
Passing the overriding umbrella BEPA with adequate regulations is the link in the chain that will pull the necklace together and better secure the beauty of the chain of islands, he said.
Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett opened the conclave, expressing his appreciation for the majesty of The Bahamas, but stopping short of calling for overriding legislation to protect it.
“I have said before that the environment of our nation is its greatest blessing, so much so that we have created a world class tourism industry based on our sun, sand, and seas,” said Dorsett. “In addition to these, we are also blessed with great landscapes, beautiful marine life, blue holes, coral reefs, indigenous trees and flowering plants and much more.” That diversity, he said, sustains life and livelihoods.
“Save The Bays is grateful to The Nature Conservancy and the Ministry of the Environment for their work in arranging the conclave,” said Joseph Darville, Education Officer and Clifton Waterkeeper. “When we heard how much appreciation the Minister said he has for those who try to protect the beauty and diversity of the Bahamian environment and that the environment ‘should be protected zealously for and by the Bahamian people’ we knew the tide had begun to change. Let us now have the courage to take the next step and pass the laws to make that wish for environmental protection a reality.”
Diane Phillips and Associates
Caption: Romi Ferreira during an earlier presentation calling for passage of an Environmental Protection Act, a call he re-issued as urgent during a 3-day conclave on the environment this week.environment, law