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14 per cent of capital budget to be spent on environmental protection

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In the 2016 Budget, Government is scheduled to spend $27.2 million on environmental protection – almost 14 per cent of the capital budget.

This was announced by Minister of Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, Industry, Internal Trade, Information and Labour Camillo Gonsalves, as he made his address in Parliament last Wednesday, February 24.{{more}}

Pointing out that global climate change has a significant part to play in the degradation of the environment and resulting negative effects – especially in the Caribbean region – Gonsalves said: “We have felt the impacts of climate change; we remember the December 2013 floods and Tomas and other floods… and the droughts.”

He further opined that even though he does not want the issue to be perceived as hopeless, it is very important that small island developing states, such as St Vincent and the Grenadines, take actions in whatever ways they can, as climate change threatens us all.

“Climate change is the threat facing our existence…” insisted Gonsalves.

“I don’t want to overstate it, I don’t want to sound doom and gloom, but if we don’t arrest climate change globally, very much of what you know of St Vincent and the Grenadines will no longer exist; and very much of the infrastructure that we have on our coast will no longer exist… We have to work locally in mitigation and adaptation, and we have to work internationally.”

On a more hopeful note, he further explained that the international community has been pulling its weight in addressing the issue.

“The positive side is that the international community has recognized the severity of the climate change problem, and they have made monies available for countries like ours to have adaptation projects to help us resist climate change.”

Gonsalves further said that the Government, along with other countries in the region, is expecting millions of dollars in assistance – some of which will come through this year, and some which will come later on.

Another issue the Minister touched on was that of the sustainable management of oceans, and its potential to generate revenue for the country.

“There are tremendous resources in our waters. Not just fish, not just people, talking about oil,” he declared.

“There are minerals on our seabed, there’s intellectual property in our waters, and there is immense potential for us to project ourselves and to have an economy based, in part, on the sustainable management of our oceans.”

Gonsalves added that the Government has many policies and protocols that it is (and will be) working on to ensure that “we are on the cutting edge, not only on adapting to climate change but accessing finances available for climate change, and to safeguarding and protecting our oceans.” (JSV)

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