DOE prepares new environmental strategy and action plans

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Martin Alegria (Chief Environmental Officer)

Martin Alegria
(Chief Environmental Officer)

Thursday, May 29, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: The old maxim goes, “If you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail.”

When your battle ground is the environment, the results can have lasting consequences.

The Department of the Environment’s five-year strategic statement and action plans expired back in 2011 and it is now on the homestretch to create a new plan that will take it through the next decade.

Today it hosted the first of a series of consultations with stakeholders in Belize City.

We asked Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria to grade how well the Department has done in the last five years.

He said that they have met most of their targets, including increasing public awareness, but there remain some challenges, including getting financing to address key issues.

One aspect of the Department’s work that has come under close scrutiny is the Environmental Impact Assessment, or EIA.

It’s now an important acronym to know when discussing environmental issues and how they impact such major projects as the Harvest Caye Norwegian Cruise Line port, the Stake Bank and Drowned Caye port and causeway, and the Green Tropics Agricultural Development in Cayo among others.

CEO Alegria told us that the process for conducting and developing the EIA as well as related assessments will be reviewed.

The Department, he said, will incorporate more usage of environmental audits and other similar plans into their work.

The work is being sponsored by the World Bank, which along with Government has final approval on the proposed plans.

A target date of September or October of this year has been set but delays with consultations and reviews may push it back to January.

The strategic development plan is now for ten years while the action plan remains at five.

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