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National Environmental Policy (2006)
The National Environmental Policy is prepared pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Environmental Management Act and includes provisions which seek to encourage the establishment of institutional linkages locally, regionally and internationally to further the objects of the said Act, an analysis of the legislative, regulatory and practical issues impacting upon the development and successful implementation of the policy; and a programme for promoting the policy and seeking an effective commitment from all groups and citizens in the society to achieve the stated objectives of the policy. Its ultimate goal is environmentally sustainable development, meaning the balance of economic growth with environmentally sound practices in order to enhance the quality of life and meet the needs of present and future generations.
Among its objectives, the policy aims to empower stakeholders, including communities, to care for their own environments by providing opportunities to share in managing their local resources and the right to participate in decision-making.
Environmental education (2.2)
Information must be widely disseminated through formal and informal education campaigns so that the required actions for enhanced environmental protection are widely understood. Environmental education for children and adults must be integrated into the education system at all levels.
Basic principles (2.3)
Empower Communities to Care for their own Environments Local communities, environmental non-governmental organisations and communitybased organisations provide the easiest channels for people to express their concerns and take action to create sustainable societies. However, such groups need the power to act. Communities should be given an opportunity to share in managing their local resources and the right to participate in decisions. Local government bodies, communities, businesses, non-governmental and communitybased organisations and other interest groups should become partners with Central Government in decisions and projects which affect them, their environment, and the resources on which they depend. The co-management of our natural resources is essential to the success of any efforts to protect and conserve.
Government policy also adheres to the Polluter Pays Principle and the Precautionary Principle. As a result, the cost of preventing pollution or of minimising environmental damage due to pollution will be borne by those responsible for pollution. Furthermore, if there are threats of serious irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty will not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
Information and participation on biodiversity, environmentally sensitive areas and species (Chapter 3)
The Government will promote opportunities for the sharing of information on biological diversity among government agencies, the public and private sector, NGOs, CBOs and other special interest groups as well as the involvement of all stakeholders in the development and management of living resources, through the institutionalisation of public participation in the decision making process.
Participation in coastal and marine areas (3.4)
The Government commits to encourage stakeholder participation in solving problems related to multi-user conflicts in coastal areas in keeping with sound integrated coastal zone management principles and philosophies.
Participation in wetlands (3.6)
The Government will promote public awareness and understanding of the wetland resources of Trinidad and Tobago and actively encourage participation of landowners, nongovernmental organisations and institutions in wetland conservation.
Participation in water resources (3.7)
The Government will expand opportunities for participation and collaboration in the development and implementation of water management programmes.
Information on air pollution (4.2)
The Government will develop a registration programme for all listed activities that emit a listed air pollutant so as to assess their contribution to air pollution, which will lead to the development of an air emissions inventory in Trinidad and Tobago.
Availability of environmental information (5.3)
Government policy is that public authorities holding information on the environment must make it available to anyone requesting it, subject to certain exclusions. In general, a request can be refused if it would involve supplying unfinished documents or data or internal communications, or where it is manifestly unreasonable or formulated in too general a manner. Inquirers can be charged a reasonable cost for the information. Public authorities must respond to a request for information within two months but may refuse to provide it, stating their reasons, where it affects; a) Violation of copyright; b) Commercial and industrial confidentiality, including intellectual property; c) Confidential proceedings of public authorities, international relations; d) National security; e) Matters sub judice or under inquiry; f) The confidentiality of personal data and or files; g) Material supplied by a third party without that party being under a legal obligation to do so; and h) Material, which if disclosed, would increase the likelihood of damage to the environment.
Government will ensure that relevant stakeholders are informed of the adverse consequences of development activities and industrial operations in Trinidad and Tobago. This information will be provided through: a) Establishment of public registers in relation to CEC‘s, Noise, Water, Air and Hazardous Waste Pollution, b) Requesting public review and comment on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA‘s)
Environmental education (5.4)
Environmental education will stress awareness, information, knowledge, attitudes, skills and participation.