(Caribbean Community Secretariat,
Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) It is indeed a
great pleasure and honour to be here and greet all
my colleagues in the Caribbean Community, on the
occasion of this important step in preparing for the
Rio + 20 Summit.
I recall 20 years in my third
year at University, the high hopes and expectations
that arose in the Global Community from the United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(UNCED) in Rio. The plans that were agreed to, the
Global Environmental Treaties signed unto, and the
promises to dedicate a small portion of the GDP
towards these commitments to mother Earth.
I can also recall the commitments
made a few years later in Barbados, in addressing
the special needs of Small Island Developing States
(SIDS); and the stock taking exercise of these
commitments in the Mauritius Strategy for
When I was ten years younger and
a young professional working as a young
conservationist working with the NGOs, I can recall
our conscience calling, and asking us to take stock
of the promises made at UNCED, versus the
commitments kept. The Johannesburg Summit in 2002,
did this, and refocused our commitments to
priorities in trying to attain true Sustainable
Fast forward to today, TEN YEARS
MORE and now five weeks as Minister of FFSD: I ask,
have we, the Global Community kept our prioritized
commitments made in South Africa? Has mother nature
been taken into consideration in our developmental
strategies and plans? Or have we continued for 20
years the "business as usual" model to prosperity?
Are we to "take stock" AGAIN? Assess the greater
risks/ dangers we are now facing as mother earth
responds to our actions?
I think we can, and must, invest
our precious time and efforts more wisely. We need
to plan our national development strategies in
concert with the principles of Sustainable
Development, uttered 20 years ago. If we do so, our
Regional Development Strategy will be easier to
These past 20 years have not
passed us in Belize without having accomplished a
few of our commitments made in Rio in 1992.
Immediately upon returning home,
we established in September of 1992 the Department
of the Environment: whose goals and objectives are
to develop and coordinate plans, programs and
activities that include the principles of
sustainable development (SD). The agenda on
"protection of our natural resource base for future
generations" has been high in both the Belizean
citizenry and it's Government. Protection of our
beloved Belize Barrier Reef is one such agenda item.
We have advanced our efforts in pursuit of SD to
where we recently expanded into a Ministry of
We did not succeed in
establishing a National Commission for Sustainable
Development (NCSD) as proposed in Agenda 21, but
instead established the Natural Resources and
Environmental Policy and Strategy (NREPS) committee,
whose responsibility is similar to those envisioned
for the NCSD.
With the sustainable development
principles as the basis, we have instituted through
these past 20 years, numerous strategies or
initiatives that assist us in better managing our
natural resources and environment. Examples include
the establishment of the Coastal Zone Management
Authority, the implementation of our Protected Areas
Systems Plan, including the establishment of its
financing arm, the Conservation Trust (PACT), the
creation of a Ministry of Energy, and the passage of
the Integrated Water Resource Management law policy
and institutional plan, to name a few.
But, most importantly, Belize has
invested greatly in building its human resource
capacities in the areas of sustainable development.
These people are the ones knowledgeable and trained
in the strategies and plans needed to pursue a
sustainable development path. These are the young
men and women that are now in key positions in
Belize's government, civil society and in private
sector. Without their understanding and support of
the principles of sustainable development, Belize
would not be in the position it now is, poised to be
a global example of sustainability.
Enough about the National
Perspective: We are here, about to embark on a task
given to us - Ministers of Environment. That is,
establish the Caribbean Position to be carried to
Rio + 20, to be held in just a few weeks.
It is my opinion that in order to
a have the task before us, there is the
pre-requisite that WE be interested in the task at
hand. The presence of all my Ministers of the
Environment colleagues at the table is critical.
Without every member’s input, it will be difficult
to achieve a true regional position.
The assistance of the Secretariat
is critical in this task. We need a capable and
responsive Secretariat, one that is well equipped
and financed to accomplish this critical work.
Coordination at a National Level
is critical. I mentioned a few examples of what
Belize has done in this endeavor. Every member
country needs to also strive towards this goal.
I would encourage we use the
BUREAU established some 3 years ago to better
coordinate Environmental / SD strategist for the
The major issues that are on our
agenda today are the Green Economy concept and the
Infrastructure for Global Environmental Management.
We have been discussing these topics and the
decisions we take today will be crucial to our
impact at Rio.
I encourage us all to be engaged
in today's COTED meeting in order to get the
Caribbean Position we seek.
Thank you all.