(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – On 19-20 March, a team of UK experts from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) was in Antigua to share their decades of experience in commissioning and reviewing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), which explore the level of environmental risks of any development and allow Government to make informed decisions.
The workshop was hosted by the Department of Environment in Antigua and Barbuda, and attended by over 25 stakeholders from Antigua, alongside representatives from Dominica, Grenada and the Organisation of East Caribbean States (OECS).
The workshop was organised through the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme, which is helping Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) across the Caribbean. The aim is to ensure their marine resources are better understood and managed, developing sustainable marine economies to create jobs, reduce poverty, ensure food security and build resilience. The programme matches UK marine expertise with partners to provide the knowledge and training needed to manage and develop their marine economies effectively and in the long-term.
Cefas Commercial Director Steve Addison commented:
“Considering sustainability in decisions made about the marine environment is key to ensure that the benefits of economic development can be enjoyed by future generations without adversely affecting our ecosystems and the sea-life they support.
“Antigua and Barbuda has a clear vision as to how the CME programme could support their needs. The Department of Environment has demonstrated great leadership in their commitments to balance the need and opportunities for economic development with long-term environmental sustainability and protection. By partnering with the Department to organise this workshop, together we aim to improve EIA processes across the Caribbean.”
Chief Environment Officer Ambassador Diann Black-Layne stressed the importance of ensuring the EIA process be one of integrity, especially the integrity of the data collected, science used and conclusions expressed. “The general public must be able to trust that the results of the EIA process should both support development and ensure a vibrant environment for future generations.”
During the two-day workshop the participants explored international and regional best practice, discussed data requirements and considered the role of climate change in assessments, amongst other topics. Jemma Lonsdale, Cefas workshop leader, commented:
“It was fascinating to discuss the challenges faced by countries in the Caribbean as part of the EIA process. Whereas there are some obvious differences with the UK, many issues are shared and together we were able to identify some solutions or a way forward. As participants return home and reflect on the workshop, they will continue to have access to UK expertise to support the assessments.”
The CME Programme will continue to provide access to world-class UK expertise to assist Commonwealth SIDS. The CME Programme is being delivered on behalf of the UK Government by a partnership of world-leading marine expertise: Cefas, the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and the National Oceanography Centre.
For more information about the CME Programme, go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/commonwealth-marine-economies-programme and follow @CME_Prog