Na­tional Trust Reaf­firms Com­mit­ment to Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust, here­inafter called the Trust, was es­tab­lished in 1975 un­der the Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust Act. The man­date of the Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust is to pro­tect the nat­u­ral and cul­tural as­sets of Saint Lu­cia for the ben­e­fit of present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Since its es­tab­lish­ment, the Trust has been ac­tive in the ar­eas of con­ser­va­tion, re­source man­age­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and ad­vo­cacy, to the ex­tent that it is seen by many as the main, and some­times the sole, civil so­ci­ety watch­dog.

Through­out its ex­is­tence since 1975, the Trust has, and will con­tinue to, op­er­ate, ad­vise and com­ment on a non­po­lit­i­cal and im­par­tial ba­sis. In ad­di­tion, the Trust has al­ways en­deav­oured to ob­tain as much fac­tual in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble be­fore com­ment­ing pub­licly on is­sues that are rel­e­vant to its man­date and mis­sion.

It is also im­por­tant to note that the Trust em­braces the idea of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and is, there­fore, par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about sus­tain­ably man­ag­ing the nat­u­ral and cul­tural as­sets that have been vested in it and for the na­tional public good. In this con­text, the Trust is pre­pared to work, with any ad­min­is­tra­tion, for the so­cio-eco­nomic devel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity of the coun­try.

Re­cent de­vel­op­ments, played out in the public do­main have con­veyed the ten­sion be­tween the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Trust. Three is­sues in par­tic­u­lar, have been largely re­spon­si­ble for this. Th­ese in­clude the pro­posed dol­phi­nar­ium at Pi­geon Is­land; the pro­posed Desert Star Hold­ings (DSH) devel­op­ment; and the sus­pen­sion of the an­nual Gov­ern­ment sub­ven­tion to the Trust.

Th­ese is­sues have gen­er­ated a sig­nif­i­cant amount of public de­bate and a num­ber of state­ments have been made by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the gov­ern­ment, by the Trust, and its mem­bers, Coun­cil and staff. Many of the state­ments is­sued by ei­ther side have, un­for­tu­nately, only served to heighten the public dis­course. Fur­ther­more, some of the public state­ments at­trib­uted to the Trust have been made by in­di­vid­ual mem­bers speak­ing in their per­sonal ca­pac­ity and have not nec­es­sar­ily re­flected the of­fi­cial po­si­tion of the Trust, or been en­dorsed by its Coun­cil.

For its part, the Trust would like to in­di­cate that it wishes to work with the Gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia. With re­gard to the DSH Project, the Trust has no fun­da­men­tal ob­jec­tion to any devel­op­ment in the south, or in any part of Saint Lu­cia that will con­trib­ute to the longterm so­cio-eco­nomic ben­e­fit of cit­i­zens, and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity of the na­tion. Fur­ther, with re­spect to the par­tic­u­lar ini­tia­tive, the Trust con­sid­ers the much-de­bated de­tails of the re­lated frame­work agree­ment be­tween the de­vel­oper and the gov­ern­ment to be out­side its sphere of com­pe­tence. Nev­er­the­less, the Trust re­mains con­cerned about the fate of the Makoté Man­grove, an im­por­tant RAMSAR site; the Maria Is­lands and their re­lated ecosys­tems and en­demic species; and the eco­log­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sets in Pointe du Sable as well as the po­ten­tial im­pacts of the pro­posed devel­op­ment on the liveli­hoods of per­sons de­pen­dent on th­ese as­sets.

In meet­ings with the Trust, and via the me­dia, the prime min­is­ter has given as­sur­ances that due process, in­clud­ing plan­ning re­quire­ments and en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial as­sess­ments and safe­guards, will be ob­served in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the DSH Project and that the Trust will be af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the re­view process and to ar­tic­u­late its con­cerns, as ap­pro­pri­ate. At this time, the Trust is pre­pared to ac­cept the prime min­is­ter’s as­sur­ances and to sup­port due process as long as they re­main in place and as long as the Trust re­mains in­volved in the process.

The dol­phi­nar­ium pro­posed for Pi­geon Is­land has been the sub­ject of much de­bate. The Trust, in the com­ing days, will for­mally com­mu­ni­cate, in writ­ing, to the prime min­is­ter its po­si­tion on the pro­posed devel­op­ment as well as the ba­sis for this po­si­tion.

On the mat­ter of the gov­ern­ment sub­ven­tion, the prime min­is­ter has in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port to the Trust con­tin­gent upon the sub­mis­sion of a busi­ness plan that pro­vides a ba­sis for the uti­liza­tion of the fi­nanc­ing re­quested. The Trust is pre­pared to ac­cept this of­fer and will sub­mit the re­quired doc­u­men­ta­tion at the ear­li­est junc­ture.

While in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of the Trust are cer­tainly en­ti­tled to ex­er­cise their rights to free speech, all fu­ture state­ments on the afore­men­tioned mat­ters should only be con­sid­ered of­fi­cial state­ments of the Trust when duly au­tho­rized by the Chair­per­son of the Coun­cil of the Trust.

The Trust wishes to as­sure the cit­i­zens of Saint Lu­cia that it will al­ways en­deav­our to ful­fill its man­date and to main­tain its core val­ues. In so do­ing, the Trust will con­tinue to re­main vig­i­lant in en­sur­ing that Saint Lu­cia’s nat­u­ral and cul­tural as­sets will not be com­pro­mised and will not hes­i­tate to com­mu­ni­cate its con­cerns, through the ap­pro­pri­ate chan­nels, where such a risk may arise.

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