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Electronic Green Journal

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Using the Law to Achieve Environmental Democracy and Sustainable Development: an Elusive Dream for Trinidad and Tobago


The concept of sustainable development emerged to offer a fresh perspective on the traditional developmental paradigm and to attempt to provide global consensus as to how to achieve sound environmental goals in a world characterized by economic disparities. In Trinidad and Tobago, the new environmental regime, which was introduced in 1995, had at its cornerstone a two-pronged approach to environmental protection. The first was the introduction of the requirement for special approval of a list of designated activities covering the major economic sectors of Trinidad and Tobago. This approval process contemplated resolution of major environmental impacts associated with specific economic activities prior to any approval being granted for such activities. The second prong was a permitting system that would see a gradual reduction in the output of pollutants from existing industry. The aim, therefore, was the stabilisation of the output of pollutants by controlling the actions of new economic players and the gradual reduction of the existing pollution inventory through the permitting system. This paper will focus specifically on the use of the Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) process for the making of developmental decisions with a brief examination of how the permitting process works in Trinidad and Tobago.

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