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Government defends record on environmental leadership

Litter collected from Shelly Bay during a clean-up (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Government hit back at comments from a charity which criticised its leadership on environmental issues.

Kim Smith, the executive director of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, said in an opinion piece published last week that the Government had sidelined environmental concerns for short-term gains.

However, in a statement responding to the criticism, the Government said that protecting Bermuda’s environment was a “critical priority” and, despite challenges, significant steps had been taken.

“While there is always room for improvement, it is crucial to recognise the substantial efforts and progress being made,” a government spokesman said.

“We invite continued dialogue and collaboration with all stakeholders to achieve our shared vision of a sustainable Bermuda.”

The statement highlighted renewable energy initiatives, fisheries protection measures and efforts to build international partnerships and learning from global best practices.

The Best article highlighted lack of progress on banning single-use plastics but the spokesman said that a lack of legislation to ban SUPs was not because of a lack of commitment, but the need for “comprehensive and enforceable policies”.

“We are working diligently to finalise the legislation, considering various stakeholder feedback from extensive consultation to make the new laws robust and effective,” the spokesman said.

“To that end, the Beyond Plastic Bermuda campaign's efforts are highly valued and are instrumental in shaping this policy.”

The spokesman acknowledged that Bermuda’s recycling infrastructure needed improvement, but said efforts were under way to improve recycling programmes at government offices and national parks.

“We are also exploring partnerships with private sectors to expand recycling facilities and education campaigns to encourage broader community participation,” the spokesman added.

While Best criticised changing policies regarding special development orders, the spokesman said the changes were intended to streamline the process while maintaining environmental standards.

“Each SDO is subject to a thorough review and decisions always consider experts' recommendations and long-term impacts,” he said.

“Government ministers’ actions reflect a balanced approach to development and environmental stewardship.”

The spokesman added that the suspension and later reinstatement of the National Parks Commission was intended to improve governance.

He added that Zane DeSilva, as chairman, would leverage his experience to ensure a “pragmatic approach” to park management and conservation.

The statement also said that the Government would soon open public consultation on both the Water Resources Amendment Bill and the Clean Air Amendment.

To read the full statement, see Related Media.

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Published June 10, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated June 10, 2024 at 7:55 am)

Government defends record on environmental leadership

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