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'Poor governance hampering environmental progress in region'

BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Environment editor williamsp@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2012    

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NASSAU, Bahamas - Poor governance is among the impediments being faced by the Caribbean and Latin American region in its efforts to meet international environmental obligations, according to the fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO 5) report.

The report was published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) earlier this year under the theme 'Environment for the future we want'.

"The region has many laws relating to the environment but, at the same time, the lack of institutional management and capacity to implement and enforce them has constrained their effectiveness. In addition, policies are not keeping pace with production practices or adapting sufficiently to the global trends," the report said of the 33-country region.

According to the report, governance in the region takes place at a number of levels, including at the hemispheric level through the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean.

At the wider Caribbean level, it said, governance takes place through the Cartagena Convention on the Protection of the Wider Caribbean Sea. At the sub-regional level, it takes place through the regional integration movements, including the Central America Integration System, the Caribbean Common Market and the Common Market of the South, as well as at the national level.

Speaking here Monday at a journalism workshop titled 'Challenges for the environment and the ozone layer', Silvia Giada, one of the contributing authors to the report, stressed the need

for good environmental governance in the region.

"There is need for more stability in the governance at the technical level to be able to carry out the things that are proposed. Normally when the government changes then the technical people change, which means there is no continuity," noted Giada, who is also programme officer with UNEP's Regional Office for Latin America and

the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, the report said that poor governance is tied to, among other things, a lack of financial resources and inadequate research data to inform actions and/or satisfactorily assess progress.

"For effective and efficient functioning, a number of enabling conditions should support policy and institutional frameworks, including adequate financial resources, scientific research and information, environmental education, and a culture of environmental awareness," said the report.

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