National policies to consider climate change
CLIMATE change adaptation will be integrated in all government policies, spending and investment decisions, as the Government takes a proactive stance in addressing the global threat. Governor John Freeman speaking in the House of Assembly on Monday, June 18, said the mechanisms to guide the territory along the path of climate change adaptation are already set in motion. Delivering the throne speech on behalf on Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson’s administration, he underscored the dire need for the territory and its inhabitants to become more climate conscious. He stressed that in facing hurricanes Irma and Maria, ignorance cannot be feigned when it comes to the significant impact that climate change will present to the Islands in the future. He said: "Though the Turks and Caicos Islands is not a major contributor to the practices that significantly impact climate change, we have experienced and will remain vulnerable to its effects if we do not take aggressive action and a firm stance on the global political stage and challenge the international community to partner with us in implementing strategies to mitigates its effects. "The Government believes that it is of extreme importance that we collectively support this climate change initiative, as it has not only national but global implications.” He said that it is imperative for the Government to create an enabling environment where both governmental and non-governmental bodies can make timely and well-informed decisions on how to address the risks posed by climate change. To achieve this objective, the Government will integrate adaptation into all planning processes. Governor Freeman said: "A Climate Change Committee led by the Office of the Premier has been formed and a Climate Change Policy Statement which speaks to my Government’s initiative and commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change in these Islands has been completed and endorsed by Cabinet.” Subsequent to this policy statement, a policy and Green Paper will follow in August, ensuring that climate change adaptation provisions are included in all national policies, programmes, strategies and action plans. "This policy will not be a static document but a dynamic work plan that is not only efficiently and effectively executed but updated every five years to ensure that the Turks and Caicos Islands remains proactive and responsive to the ever-evolving threat of climate change. "As guardians of the natural environment of these ‘beautiful by nature’ Islands the Government will ensure sustainable practices are actioned and incorporated into daily lives and a culture of eco-awareness is fostered throughout this archipelago.” Governor Freeman further acknowledged the significant role the natural environment plays in the territory’s primary industry, tourism. "The Climate Change Policy is only one part of a comprehensive initiative that the Government will mobilise to addresses the challenges and practices that impact our natural environment.” The Government has since initiated a waste management plan for the entire Turks and Caicos Islands. The plan, which is being supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will enable corporate citizens to play an active role in the upkeep and cleanliness of public spaces. Plans are also in the pipelines to launch the Plastic Bag Policy which will see a full ban on plastic bags as part of the ‘Going Green’ initiative. "The Government will also introduce a number of environmental initiatives that will aid in reducing pollution of our air and oceans, and for the preservation of our pristine environment,” the governor revealed.