BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — “Tonight, we focus on a big issue of global concern – Our Stewardship of the Environment,” said the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris during his Sept. 29 opening remarks on Leadership Matters.
“It is said in some quarters that the existence of Climate Change, NCDs and COVID-19 is a reflection of the poor state of planetary health, said the Honourable Dr. Harris. “The crisis, we are told, is symptomatic of man’s poor stewardship of the natural systems, which support human civilization. Environmental degradation is a major concern here in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The degradation of our shorelines, the careless removal of our beach sand without concern for its replenishment, and the untidy nature of some parks and green areas must be matters for which all of us use our best efforts to contain and eliminate.
“This concern for our environment must start in our homes, keeping our homes clean and our surroundings clean, and sorting out our garbage and keeping it in a safe and secure place until the garbage truck comes or until we can take it to an authorized dumping area. These are some of the ways that we can show respect for our environment.
“We must aim to make St. Kitts and Nevis the tidiest small island state in the World. Our visitors must be enthralled not just by the beauty of our Country’s landscape and seascape, but by its unmatched cleanliness, serenity and charm.
“The United Nations has taken up the matter of the environment and how we ought to protect it, ensure its sustainability and ultimately our existence. One objective is to reduce carbon emissions, reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of alternative energy.
“There is the concern over the prevalence of single-use plastics, which contribute to pollution of our beaches and habitat and undermine the sustainability of our fisheries resources.
“St. Kitts and Nevis’ efforts at food security are being undermined by the impact of the vervet green monkey on our farms, destroying our fruits and vegetables and being a nuisance to our farmers.
“One solution to the monkey problem is the need to create safe havens for monkeys in the upper lands above our farms, where adequate quantities of food, fruits and vegetables are planted, thereby mitigating the need for monkeys to come to the lowlands and into our backyards to secure food.
“An alternative global public health good would be to have a larger proportion of our monkeys being used in experiments to advance areas of significant health concern. Here in St. Kitts and Nevis, we are fortunate to have two primate facilities doing important scientific research into Parkinson’s and other diseases. They pay a tidy sum for live monkeys.
“We have taken some policy decisions to enhance our environment:
a. Controls on the locations and quantity of beach and ghaut sands which a person could procure.
“Let me advise of the official sand mining sites in St. Kitts. These are La Vallee for beach sand and Lodge Ghaut for ghaut sand. Beach sand is sold at EC $7.50 per cubic yard (yd3) and Ghaut sand for EC $5.00 per cubic yard (yd3).
b. Restrictions on indiscriminate building and squatting. Our representative from the Development Control and Planning Board, also known as the Building Board, may zero in on this.
c. Development layouts for orderly determination of land use.
d. Proposal for build-out of alternative energy programme. We have signed a contract to establish the largest solar plant in St. Kitts and Nevis. This will go a major way in reducing our dependence on fossil fuel.
e. Replacement of 10,047 street lamps (high-pressure sodium and mercury vapour lamps with high-efficient LED models).
f. 1,024 existing flood lamps at various sporting fields and courts around both St. Kitts and Nevis will be replaced with more efficient LED models.
g. The previous two measures will lead to an estimated 44 percent reduction in our Government energy bill.
“The way we treat our environment is critical to our wellbeing and welfare.
“Let me therefore give some tips that each of us can follow in our efforts to preserve our environment and reduce our vulnerability to climate change.
1. In agriculture, consumers should buy fresh food rather than processed food since carbon-based energy might be used to process the food. Support the local farmers and backyard gardeners. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good for our health and are far superior to processed ones. I commend our local farmers and backyard gardeners.
2. The use of drip irrigation and other good farming practices are encouraged.
3. Use water efficiently daily and employ water conservation measures, such as using low-flush toilets, low-flow taps and showers.
4. Implement water conservation measures, such as water harvesting.
5. Plant more trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen.
6. High-efficiency lighting, such as compact fluorescent, and eventually LED light sources can be used at industrial and retail operations, as well as in households.
7. The use of rooftop solar panels as an alternative to fossil fuel energy is encouraged. Solar water heaters should be used instead of electric water heaters.
8. Adopt best practices at the household, community, and national levels; for example, the efficient use of water and energy and the adoption of the 3R’s principle of reduce, reuse and recycle.
“Tonight, we are fortunate to have with us Hon. Eric Evelyn, our Federal Minister with responsibility for Environment and Cooperatives and Mr. Calvin Pemberton, Chairman of the Development Control and Planning Board to share perspectives on our approach to bringing mankind in sync with the planet through better use and care for the environment.
“I welcome them both and I thank you, the viewers and listeners, for tuning in,” concluded Dr. Harris.