Trinidad and Tobago’s biodiversity is the richest of all the Caribbean islands due to our continental origins. However, this biodiversity is threatened by deforestation, flooding, pollution, unregulated development, soil erosion, overhunting and overfishing.
Furthermore, Trinidad and Tobago is a small island developing state (SIDS) making us vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, shifting agricultural patterns and more intense and frequent droughts and storms.
In T&T, our overarching environmental legislation is the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 35:05, 2000. This piece of legislation has led to the development and enactment of other supporting pieces of legislation in the areas of water, air and noise pollution and the protection of Environmentally Sensitive Species and Areas. Other pieces of legislation geared towards natural resource management include the Waterworks and Water Conservation Act, the Conservation for Wildlife Act, the Forests Act and the Fisheries Act.
Despite having a fair suite of environmental laws and regulations, environmental degradation is still a major issue for Trinidad and Tobago. A lack of law enforcement and monitoring, coupled with negative environmental behaviours and a general lack of care for the planet by our citizens has led to the continued destruction of our natural environment. Therefore, in order to overcome these environmental challenges, greater coordination of resources and collaboration between stakeholders is needed, while changes in attitudes and behaviour can be effected through increased political support and the development of education and awareness campaigns focused on sustainable development.