St Vincent and the Grenadines National Physical Development Plan: Its Importance, Role and Function
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is currently in the process of undertaking the preparation of a national Physical Development Plan. This is being done with the assistance of the World Bank under the Regional Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (RDVRP).
Even though the Town and Country Planning Act, 1992 as amended in 2002 and 2005 in its preamble states that its purpose is “[…] to enable the orderly and progressive development of land and the proper planning of town and country areas, to make provision for the control and development and for matters incidental to the foregoing and connected therewith”, no such approved national Physical Development Plan currently exists.
This is so, not because efforts have not been made to prepare such a plan before. For example Draft Plans were prepared in the past, but were never formally approved. The current plan which is under preparation should remedy this situation, St, Vincent and the Grenadines Natural Physical and provide the national framework for prioritizing and guiding development activities taking into consideration sectorial needs and the desire to manage and improve the quality of life through proper land use planning as a means of contributing to the social economic and environmental stewardship of the country natural resources.
NATIONAL CADASTRAL SURVEYS: THEIR IMPORTANCE
More often than not when discussing land administration issue reference is made to Cadastral Surveys. There are usually done at various levels. The question, therefore, arises what is a Cadastral Survey and why is a National Cadastral Survey Important? Put simply as follow; a Natural Cadastral Survey establishes real property boundaries. In other wards it is a record of rights as it gives a true and exact description of rights in land at any moment. Its importance is, therefore, a no-brainer-as it clearly establishes the recognition of a person legally possessing a right, the nature of that right and the exact boundaries of the land in question. Such a survey is a sine qua non for national development and is fundamental for national planning and investment promotion purposes. This is one of the issues addressed in the Draft National Land Policy since at present SVG does not have a completed up to date national Cadastral Survey.
Is an Environment Act necessary for National Development?
In recent years, there have been graving concerns of the environmental impacts of man’s development activities. This has led to many governments across the world to establish institutional mechanism – primarily through the enactment of compressive environmental legislation to address environmental concerns and problems.
In the Caribbean a number of the Member States of the Caribbean Community have enacted comprehensive environmental legislation. The increase awareness created by the convening the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Brazil in 1992 influence some countries of the region in enacting comprehensive environmental legislate. The Environmental Protection Act in 1992 which established the Department of the Environment (DOE) in Belize is an example. This was followed by the enactment by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in 1995 of the Environment Management Act No.3. This Act was subsequently replaced and re-enacted as the Environmental Management Act (MMAct) Chapter 35:05 of 2000. Likewise Guyana in 1996 enacted the Environmental Protection Act which established the Environmental Protection Agency of Guyana.
More recently in 2015 the Government of Antigua and Barbuda enacted the Environmental Protection and Management Act of 2015. In addition, to providing the framework for addressing environmental issues in Antigua and Barbuda, the Act also provides the legal framework which enabled Antigua and Barbuda to have direct access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UFCCC).
One of the central recommendations contained in the Draft National Land Policy for St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the enactment of an Environmental, Natural Resources and Climate Change Management Act building the Draft Environment Management Bill of 2009 as a possible basis.
From the perspective of the authors of the National Land Policy of SVG, it is essential for SVG to enact environmental legislation to give the Environmental Arm of the Government the legal authority to address the countries environmental and natural resources issues.
BUILDING RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE
Give the country’s high vulnerability, a meteorological event such as a tropical wave accompanied by intense rainfall over a relatively short timescale can cause extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure and economy. Such was the case in December 1993 when the country was affected by an unseasonal low-level trough system over a 24-hour period from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day.
According to the data reported from each sector, the total damages and losses resulting from this event was US$ 103.9 million (EC$ 279.3 million) equivalent to 15 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. Most of the flood damage was sustained in the infrastructure sector (97 %) followed by the social sector (3%) and the productive sector (< 1 %). Figure 1 provides an overview of the damages and losses sustained by sector.
1Locke, Justin; Rodrigues, Marco; Pandey, Bishwa; Meier, Gerald; Charles, Keren. 2014. Rapid Damage and Loss Assessment (DaLA): December 24-25, 2013 floods – a report by the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Washington DC; World Bank Group. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/213861468302688159/Rapid-Damage-and-Loss-Assessment-DaLA-December-24-25-2013-floods-a-report-by-the-Government-of-Saint-Vincent-and-the-Grenadines.