Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Time for serious environmental talk


Mark Fraser

 The Government has recognised and placed due emphasis and resources towards tackling what some may describe as the “societal decay” which has begun to cover sweet T&T over the years. Possibly, the billions of dollars expended on social programmes could be used as an indicator that there are a lot of us in society who need help. But are we hitting the target in the most part? What, then, is the true cost and approach to nation-building? 

Several groups are claiming that the only way to continue seamlessly in government and keep the peace is to appease the demands of labour, albeit through wage negotiations. However, it is of utmost importance that we begin to engage, in a very holistic manner, engagement with stakeholders from differing sectors.

In a time of socio-economic and environmental uncertainty, we must begin to rationalise spending and mitigate shocks on the domestic economy. We must therefore mature as a society and engage in proper social dialogue.

There is now a wide appreciation of the damage being done to the environment through human activity. Oil exploration and improper waste disposal are often cited as the major reasons for damage to marine resources in T&T. However, other factors such as poor fisheries management policies, overfishing, pollution, other unsustainable fishing practices and the destruction of marine habitats all contribute towards the destruction of the marine resources. 

The on-shore sector also has a negative impact. The marine environment, including the oceans and all seas and adjacent coastal areas, forms an integrated whole that is an essential component of the global life-support system and a positive asset that presents opportunities for sustainable development.

There is still a considerable lack of awareness of the interrelated nature of all human activities and the environment, due to inaccurate or insufficient information. T&T, for example, may lack relevant technologies and expertise. 

Therefore, there is a need to increase public awareness and sensitivity to environmental and developmental problems and how they could be involved in the solutions. This will assist in fostering a sense of personal environmental responsibility and greater motivation and commitment towards sustainable development.

Certainly, it has come to being that stakeholders of the marine industry need to step up, through social dialogue, to partner with other stakeholders in the public sector, NGOs, CBOs, and in the private sector to influence and determine the direction and content of policies. 

The platform or medium to get a place at the table should be through a social dialogue task force, appointed by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

 Omardath Maharaj  

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