Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 01, 2021 (SKNIS): The Department of Environment is currently reviewing the draft National Conservation and Environmental Management Act (NCEMA) which will be the overarching legislation used to govern all environmental matters. The proposal is being made for a new Bill called the National Conservation and Environmental Management Bill.
The purpose of the meeting, which was held on April 30, 2021, at the Solid Waste Management Conference Room, was to do an internal review of the current document with the staff before further consultations are done with other agencies. This activity is also a learning exercise for all staff to ensure that they are empowered with the relevant information as they execute their daily duties.
In giving a brief history, June Hughes, Director in the Department of Environment, noted that in 1987, the National Conservation and Environment Protection Act was passed by Parliament.
“The genesis of this legislation was a pre-condition for funding of the South East Peninsula Road. At the time, it was deemed to be the most comprehensive environmental legislation in the region. Over time, the flaws and omissions in this legislation became glaringly apparent so we needed to upgrade to reflect international best practices and fit it into the reality of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Director Hughes. “We, therefore, sought funding and technical expertise to draft a new Act.”
A draft legislation has since been taken to Parliament. However, there was the need to do some in-house consultations along with consultations with other stakeholders, said officials within the Department.
“In 2009, the first draft of the National Conservation and Environmental Management Act was developed through wide consultation. However, that draft still needed further elaboration, so in 2017, further consultations were held, and a new draft was developed,” said Ms. Hughes. “In 2020, the draft legislation received a first reading in Parliament but subsequent to that reading, we realize that we had further and major changes. For example, we have a new section on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources. And so, this brings us here today where we are undertaking new consultations with not just the staff of the Department of Environment but the wider stakeholdership to discuss the new addition and changes to the document,” she added.
Ms. Hughes said that the goal is to take the final draft to Parliament in 2021 for approval.
The National Conservation and Environmental Management Bill (NCEMA) will replace the current National Conservation and Environmental Protection Act (NCEPA) to ensure that the Department of Environment has the legislative framework to guide its work.