Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ environmental priorities include climate change in the form of droughts and increased rainfall, pollution, land degradation, deforestation, loss of agricultural land and solid waste management. The government has made considerable strides in responding to the environmental issues especially in framework policies and plans. The linkage between development and the environment seems to be well established in the National Economic and Social Development Plan (2010-2025). This framework needs to be accompanied by the relevant integrated sector policies which are slowly developing. Implementation and enforcement are still lacking to a large extent caused mainly by lack of resources (financial and human) and poor coordination at the agency level.

Featured Legislation

1991: The Environmental Health Services Act was passed. The Act provides for the regulation of activities that may affect public health and the environment. The Minister of Health is charged with the responsibility of protecting and promoting public health by ensuring conservation and maintenance of the environment (sect. 3). The Minister may delegate functions pursuant to section 4. An Environmental Health Board is established under section 5. The Board shall advise the Minister on matters relating to environmental health. An Environmental Health Division is established in the Public Health Department and a Chief Environmental Officer shall be appointed (sects. 6 and 8). The functions of the Division are set out in section 7. Sections 10 to 13 prescribe certain requirements regarding observation of environmental norms by the public. Powers of the Chief Environmental Officer and other public officers are defined in section 13 to 16. Appeal against decisions or notices made under section 6 may be had in accordance with sections 17 to 20. Sections 21 to 30 prescribe offenses. Regulation making powers of the Minister are set out in section 31. A Local Authority may issue By-laws under section 32. (35 sections completed by 1 Schedule)

2000: The Waste Management Act was signed. This Act contains rules for the public management and disposal of solid waste as defined in section 2 and including hazardous waste as defined in Schedule 1 to this Act, and provides for appointment, functions, etc. of the National Solid Waste Management Authority.

2002: The National Parks Act was introduced. This Act establishes the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority, the National Parks Board and the National Parks Fund and makes provision for the establishment of national parks, their promotion, management and protection and for the acquisition of private land for purposes of establishment or maintenance of a national park or the management of private land as a national park.

2006: The National Emergency and Disaster Management Act was promulgated. This Act provides for an effective mechanism to prevent disasters and to respond to the occurrence of disasters in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It establishes the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and, for each district, requires a District Disaster Management Committee to be established. The National Emergency Management Organization shall act as the central agency for coordinating disaster management in the State. The National Emergency Management Organization shall consist of: (a) the National Emergency Council; (b) the National Emergency Executive Committee; and (c) district disaster management committees. The National Emergency Council shall ensure that the NEMO effectively performs its functions. The Director of NEMO shall be responsible for coordinating the general policy of the Government relating to disaster management in the State and shall prepare annually the National Disaster Management Plan to be submitted to the Cabinet for approval. The Act also concerns effective disaster management and coordination of disaster management activities of various institutions.

2009: The Environmental Management Act was approved. This Act aims at providing the guidelines and assigning the administrative responsibilities for environmental management and related activities.The purposes of this Act are to provide for:

(a) the allocation and coordination of administrative responsibilities for environmental management within the State;

(b) the prevention and mitigation of pollution of the environment, for the purposes of protecting human health and maintaining the quality of the environment

(c) the conservation of energy and the development of renewable energy resources;

(d) the integration of environmental management and monitoring.

2009: The Banana Industries Act was brought into force. An Act to repeal the Banana Industry Restructuring Act, 2001; to make provision for the dissolution of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Banana Growers Association; to facilitate the improvement of the banana industry in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and for related purposes. This Act sets out measures for the management, control and improvement of the banana industry in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

2010: The Energy Action Plan was instituted. The Energy Action Plan is a national policy with a cross-sectoral approach. This Action Plan lays down strategies on (I) planning and management to achieve sustainable supply and use of energy, (II) the development of power and petroleum sector, (III) the management and use of renewable energy resources, (IV) reduction of emissions in the land and maritime transport sectors, and (V) energy efficiency.

2015: The Geothermal Resources Development Act was created. The main purposes of this Act are to (i) encourage and facilitate the safe production of geothermal energy for the benefit of the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; (ii) encourage effective land management in the development and use of geothermal resources; and (iii) promote the use of renewable energy. This Act sets forth provisions on the establishment, organization, duties and responsibilities of the National Energy Committee, and moreover procedures of designation of geothermal resources areas, permit, license or concession to conduct geothermal resources activities, rights of holder of license and concession, compliance, enforcement and safety measures, registration of all related information, dispute settlement and financial provisions. The Committee may appoint sub-committee, working groups or advisory bodies to assist in the performance of its function or to further the objects of this Act. In case of a threat to human safety or the environment, the Committee may, after consultation with the Minister and in coordination with other appropriate governmental entities, undertake emergency response activities. This Act underlines that an application for a permit, license or concession may not be made for the lands in a forest reserve, terrestrial and marine national park and protected area, wildlife sanctuary or other similar area. The right of use and the rights of way shall only be granted to a person authorized to carry out geothermal resources activities under this Act in the relevant geothermal resources areas. The Minister responsible for energy may make regulations for the implementation of the provisions of this Act.

2019: The National Adaptation Plan of Saint Vincent and Grenadines was created. The National Adaptation Plan is a national policy with a multi-sectoral approach. The timeframe of this Plan is 12 years between 2018 and 2030, including two main implementation phases. The overall objective of this Plan is to mainstream climate change adaptation to all relevant sectors at all levels with a gender-sensitive approach.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • According to government officials, climate change is wreaking havoc on farms, forests, fisheries, housing, infrastructure and communities in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, violating tenets of human security vis-a-vis  rights to life, health, food, water, housing, cultural rights and a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, has brought attention to the growing threats to human security, highlighting a series of overlapping catastrophes in recent years, including a major volcanic eruption, hurricanes, severe floods and droughts, as well as COVID-19. Following the recent agreement reached at the Glasgow Climate Change Conference, wealthy nations of the world are encouraged to accelerate their mitigation actions, and boost climate finance to assist nations such as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in their mitigation and adaptation efforts. Such efforts must come from the creation of a fund for loss and damages to enable recovery in climate vulnerable nations, according to Boyd. Small island states like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are among the world’s most outspoken voices in calling for urgent action to address the damage that climate change is inflicting on human health, human rights, and well-being at the same time as their contribution to climate change is minimal. For example, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has ratified the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement) and needs to take concrete implementation actions to honor its commitments. The Escazú treaty should be used to guide the development of all climate- and environment-related initiatives, such as the environmental impact assessment process, ensuring that human rights are mainstreamed and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is fulfilled. Pollution, biodiversity and sustainable development planning engender consequences for human rights and capacity building efforts are required on many fronts, including clean water, solid waste management, and adapting to climate change. The enforcement of environmental rules that protect human rights is of paramount importance, but so is environmental education because understanding the ecological challenges facing society is a prerequisite to responsible citizenship.

References and Further Reading


Environment Management Department. Ministry of Health and the Environment: