Budget 2020 makes provisions for coastal protection in Salt Whistle Bay, Sandy Bay, Georgetown and Sans Souci. It funds defences for the Yarabaqua, Warrowwarrow, Buccament, Calliaqua and Carriere. It completes an emergency shelter in Kingstown and satellite warehouses in Bequia and Union Island.
It funds slope stabilization in Belle Isle. It rehabilitates storm-damaged roads and bridges across Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It affords our poorest and most vulnerable citizens the opportunity to upgrade their homes against increasingly intense weather events.
Budget 2020 is a climate change budget. It is an adaptation budget, shaped by our times and the threats we face. No budget can insulate us from the ravages of climate change; but there is no doubt that Budget 2020 will make Vincentians that much safer than we are today. In 2001, less than 10% of our nation’s public debt was incurred for adaptation and mitigation to climate change; today that number has risen to in excess of 50%.
The Government has taken bold, and sometimes difficult, decisions to protect our environment, our ecosystems, and the Vincentian people. Despite their utility, we have banned the sale of many single-use plastics. Despite its affordability, we are banning the mining of local beach sand. Despite its ubiquity, we banned the use of Styrofoam containers.
Despite its efficiency, we have prohibited the use of popular pesticides like glyphosate, and halted the aerial spraying of crops. Despite their reported deliciousness, we have prohibited the hunting of Parrot Fish, sea turtles and dolphins.
These decisions, individually and collectively, have disrupted the lives of consumers, retailers, contractors, farmers and fisherfolk in ways small and large. But they were the correct decisions. We are the stewards of an incredibly precious and fragile sliver of God’s most inspired creativity. We have a special responsibility to preserve and protect Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. For ourselves, for our children, and for humanity.
The Government’s environmental ambitions do not abate in 2020. We are continuing to study the best ways in which we can regulate the disposal of grey water from coastal businesses, and effluent from yachts and other pleasure craft. We plan to protect our reefs by restricting the types of sunscreen used by swimmers, divers and beachgoers.
And we intend to take concrete, comprehensive actions that will slow beach degradation and protect our coastal assets. Budget 2020 also signals its commitment to our inland endowments with projects designed to enhance our forestry protection, conserve biodiversity, reduce land degradation, and protect the Georgetown Watershed.
However, budgetary and legal measures – however comprehensive – cannot save our environment. We need people and the private sector to actively participate in this quest.