My delegation aligns itself with the statements made by the Delegation of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, by the Delegation of Mauritius on behalf of the member countries of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and by the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize on behalf of CARICOM Member States.
We in Trinidad and Tobago are currently developing a National Strategic Development Plan as the basis for the realization of the country’s vision for the attainment of developed country status by the year 2020. At the core of this vision is the goal of improving the quality of life of the entire population by ensuring access to basic amenities, including water, shelter and electricity.
We have made poverty alleviation one of the main planks of our social and economic development policy and have taken a number of initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions of the less fortunate segments of the society. As they relate to the themes of this Session, these initiatives include:
- The introduction of reforestation and watershed protection programmes;
- The improvement in the housing situation by placing special emphasis on squatter regularization and the provision of low-income housing for vulnerable groups;
- The elaboration of the National Social Development Programme aimed at improving the quality of life in poor rural communities throughout the country through the provision and/or improvement of the water supply and electrification.
Water Resources Management
In the area of water resource management Mr. Chairman, while Trinidad and Tobago is not a water-scarce country by international standards, current water demand outstrips existing supply, resulting in a 20% annual deficit, in spite of the apparent abundance of water in the country. Over 92% of the population has access to water but 70% receives a scheduled supply. Total water demand is projected to increase by 27% by the year 2015, which will lead to further deficits.
To address this situation, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has as its main objectives:
- The improvement of the water supply through re-engineering and technology upgrade, refurbishment of the water supply grid and leakage control.
- Promotion of a culture of conservation among the population.
- Provision of water to the poor and rural communities through the National Social Development Programme.
- The establishment of an Integrated Water Resources Management Framework to ensure effective and integrated management of the country’s water resources.
With respect to the latter, a Draft Integrated Water Resources Management Policy has been developed through extensive public consultation that will be finalised and adopted shortly. Concurrently, the Water Resource Management Agency is being established which will be responsible for implementation of the Policy.
The recently inaugurated National Reforestation and Watershed Rehabilitation Programme is another important initiative to protect critical watersheds and over time improve the quality and supply of ground and surface water.
Management of Wastes and Sanitation Systems
Mr. Chairman, in the management of wastes and sanitation systems we propose to develop a National Solid Waste Management System to provide a mechanism for conservation of energy and natural resources; reduction of waste generation; environmentally sound treatment of waste through the adoption of appropriate technologies and the protection of human health and the environment from the disposal of hazardous waste. The system is also the basis for coordination and collaboration among agencies with responsibility for waste and sanitation including the Environmental Management Authority and the Solid Waste Management Company.
With respect to settlements, we will focus heavily on the provision of low income housing for the disabled, the elderly, single mothers and the poor over the next few years. Specific programmes include:
- The Accelerated Housing Programme aimed at providing 10,000 homes annually over the next 10 years, especially for the poor;
- The Home Improvement Grant which provides funds of TT$10,000 per household to assist 1,000 low income beneficiaries to improve their homes; and
- The IDB Assisted Second National Settlements Scheme which provides for squatter upgrading, a subsidy for new housing for families with an annual income of less than US$ 4300 and a subsidy for home improvement for families with an annual income of less than US$ 3800.
A recognition of the inextricable link between achieving the targets which we set ourselves in the Barbados Programme of Action and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation particularly as this latter relates to the thematic areas of this CSD Session, will continue to form the basis of the approach of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to policy formulation in these important areas. The CSD has a crucial role to play in keeping us all on track.
I thank you.