During this legislative session the majority of the bills heading to the House of Assembly will be aimed at strengthening the Government’s mandate of “Going Green and Going SMART.” This is according to the Speech From the Throne that was delivered by His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert in the House of Assembly on November 14.
In his Speech the Queen’s Representative announced that Government will be taking various pieces of legislation to the House of Assembly during this session that are designed to benefit the people of the Territory within the context of SMART strategies, green development, economic stability, and empowerment of the people to ensure transformation and long-term resilience of the Virgin Islands.
Zooming on the fact that the Speech from the Throne in previous years has been repetitive the Governor explained that this is because there are longstanding issues that will soon be addressed: “Our Government is aware that some of the pieces of legislation that will be mentioned today were previously highlighted in former Speeches from the Throne. Our Government understands the issues the Territory has been grappling with for decades, and our Government intends to address them now,” he explained.
Governor Jaspert said: “Our Government is committed to the blue economy and the green economy of the Virgin Islands through environmental management, ecological integrity, and protection of our natural resources to ensure economic growth and development. It is for this reason that our Government is tackling Climate Change as one of its high priority areas. Our Government believes in a beautiful, clean, and healthy green environment. Therefore, an amendment to the Climate Change Trust Fund Act will allow for greater access to funding that may become available to the Virgin Islands.”
Further the Governor mentioned that the Territory’s sustainable development strides are going to be moving forward. Part of this initiative involves the Beach Use Policy which will be introduced and ratified in this Session to ensure environmental management and maintenance of beaches.
Speaking about the Government’s commitment to environmental preservation His Excellency announced: “Our Government believes in its primary responsibility to preserve and protect the natural assets and environment of the Virgin Islands. Our Government remains committed to its further responsibility to ensure that the sea as an asset is used sustainably to provide benefits for the people of this Territory.”
While lingering longer on the green mandate the Governor stated: “The Going Green, Going SMART Legislative Agenda of our Government also includes the agricultural and fisheries sectors, which are important to the historical, economic, and cultural identity of the Territory. That is why legislative reform and other measures will be put in place to increase the earning potential of fisher folks and farmers.”
The 2017 hurricanes devastated the infrastructure of the Territory and this was considered as it was explained that bills would be taken to the House to deal with sustainable rebuilding. In making this announcement the Governor stated: “By now it is evident, the strength and unpredictability of hurricanes in these present times are an indication that Climate Change is not a myth, but a reality. That is why our Government is placing an even higher emphasis on the quality and standard of the Territory’s physical infrastructure through green building strategies and practices.”
“As a result, our Government is moving forward with introducing the Architects, and Engineers Registration Bill to ensure that all architects and engineers practicing in the BVI are registered, licensed, and regulated to strengthen the enforcement aspect of the Business and Constructions Regulations.
“This also means amending the Physical Planning Act, 2004, to ensure that the application of green building technologies apply to all developments, whether it is for public infrastructure, residential, or commercial buildings,” he added.