MP Wescot considers the appointment of the Nature Foundation as the Ecosystem Authority for Sint Maarten great news

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~ Wants to know if the “Authority” has all the tools to execute this responsibility, and the teeth to enforce measures.~

The MP had tabled an amendment to the budget 2021 to increase the subsidy of the Nature Foundation, which was passed by parliament. The amendment to increase the foundation’s subsidy, specifically mentioned the management of the invasive vervet monkey.

“At the time the Foundation had just completed the Monkey Management Project via the R4RC program and I was therefore pleased to note the signing of the continuation of a service level agreement with the Nature Foundation in which the organization ‘is granted the authority to manage the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Sint Maarten and provide related services to the Ministry’.”

Of concern is however that the budgeted subsidy for the Nature Foundation for 2022, is back to the level before the 2021 increase. It is hardly imaginable that this organization now tasked with additional responsibilities can effectively attack the many environmental challenges we face today with the resources currently allotted to it.

Often times we criticize and are criticized for the lack of regulations. In the case of our environment, there is an environment law and general measures for good environmental stewardship.

What should now be established to ensure that the Nature Foundation is well-equipped is the following:
Are the existing regulations up to date?
Will the “Authority” be heard and respected?
Can the plethora of issues be addressed with the funding available?
What are Sint Maarten’s environmental priorities?

MP Wescot continues to advocate for the country’s development along the lines of the global Sustainable Development Goals and explained that as such the environment is high on the agenda.

“It is also one of the areas that I am completely in favor of decentralized execution, in this case to the Nature foundation. Government should set the parameters and delegate or mandate those in the field to execute, reporting back as is stipulated in our Environment Ordinance.”

What I would take issue with is having an agency responsible on paper and government going its merry way with total disregard for advices, warnings etc.
I have therefore asked to receive the service level agreement with Nature Foundation and for a meeting with the Nature Foundation, as I believe that with the designation of Nature Foundation as the Authority, several environmental concerns can be tackled in earnest.

In my meeting request, I have specifically asked that the committee chair invites the Nature Foundation to hear what the plans are in connection with the recently signed agreement with Government and their plans “to tackle the ever increasing invasive species’ presence on the island, doing much harm to our local ecosystems and throwing us back light years in the efforts to ‘grow what we eat and eat what we grow’.”