Environment Minister the Hon. Earl Deveaux has a number of items on his portfolio as Minister of the Environment, but says his immediate attention will be given to showing and demonstrating that the nation is addressing its cleanliness habits.
“My primary mandate is to ensure that the environment that we speak of is in a well maintained and tidy state,” said Minister Deveaux. “That means addressing comprehensively solid waste issues; whether it means garbage collection, managing protected areas or managing the marine environment.
“We need the public to see that their country is cleaner; then it makes sense to talk about protection and sustainability. If it’s dirty and there is litter all over the place and mattresses in your wetlands, and fridges in your forest, and the habitats of wild birds are being destroyed by indiscriminate clearing and dumping.
“If I cannot be seen to addressing those, the issues of the international conventions and the Environmental Impact Assessment appear to be just so many words,” he said.
Among the other high priority items is the need to provide sustainable financial and technical management for the network of protected areas created in The Bahamas, and to fulfill the agreements made with international conventions by the Government of The Bahamas.
“We have a protected area trust fund under the Caribbean Challenge where the Government has committed significant financial resources to fund permanent management and we are also raising money internationally to assist with that effort,” he stated.
Furthermore said Minister Deveaux, “The international conventions that the Government of The Bahamas have signed on to many years ago are intended to compliment our laws in ensuring that we are doing the things domestically that we promised to do internationally.”
Referring to the Bio Diversity Convention and the Ramsar Convention (for protection of wetlands) Minister Deveaux said, “We’ve created the areas of protected systems. We are seeking to pass the legislation, but creating them and having legislation without technical and financial resources to manage them would not ensure that they do the work, and so that’s one of the high priorities of our agenda.”
Another key area of the Minister of Environment is sustainable management of solid waste. He said, “Much of the refuse that we generate as human beings has an end use, depending on how you manage it when you seek to dispose of it. Old palettes, garden trash, food waste much of these can be converted to organic herbicides.
“For example, we can mulch garden waste and old palettes and use those to suppress weeds on our highways; we can mulch food waste to create humus, and organic matter to help enrich the soil, either for farming purposes or for public park maintenance.
“We think if we take that approach in handling our waste, given today’s market for heavy metals, inorganic and organic fertilizers and the need to maintain our public landscapes, that we can generate enormous value from our waste provided we have the mindset to approach it like that,” he added.