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By MAIKA BOLATIKI
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has agreed to help put in place environmental officers in all the provinces in Fiji.
This is a new change now introduced by the Ministry of the iTaukei Affairs, announced by its Deputy Permanent Secretary, Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga, when opening the Tailevu Provincial Council meeting at Ratu Cakobau House in Nausori yesterday.
Environmental officers will act as caretakers of the land. They work with developers, commercial organisations, governments and communities and provide expert advice to help to conserve the natural environment.
Colonel Kurusiga said they were also talking with UNDP about funding for the new posts.
He said there was a great need for these officers present in all provinces, especially for the protection of our environment.
In foreign countries environmental officers work in a variety of roles to protect the environment.
They can work as:
l Sustainability officers, that provide advice to government and industries on how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
l Strategists, that help develop and implement codes of practice
l Scientists, that analyse pollution to identify sources, assess the effects, and recommend methods of control and prevention
l Communicators, that run education programmes, and investigate and report on breaches of environmental guidelines
l Field officers that assess and rehabilitate areas affected by logging. mining, construction or degradation
l Planners, that review and research development proposals and make recommendations to reduce the impact that the land use will have on the environment.
Another change will be the installation of an information technology (IT) system in all provincial offices so that access to information is made easier for people living outside their provinces.
Colonel Kurusiga said the IT system would have information about a province and information from the Native Lands Commission (NLC).
“If a member of the Tailevu province is in Vanua Levu and wants information about his province he can just access information through this IT system rather than contacting the office in Nausori,” Colonel Kurusiga said.
After the opening by Colonel Kurusiga yesterday, government officials made their presentations.
The meeting continues today.