Stakeholder consultations have begun for the National Physical Development Plan to govern the appropriate use of land in Dominica for the next 20 years.
A wide cross-section of persons and organizations including the Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries Departments; banks, insurers, the Discover Dominica Authority and the general public have been invited to share their views and make recommendations for the sustainable development of land in Dominica.
On Monday, January 25th, at the first of a series of public consultations, Senior Project Coordinator, Annie Edwards spoke of the importance of such a plan.
“Tropical Storm Erika highlighted the dangers associated with planning without a strong policy environment so issues such as residential developments in river valleys and on steep slopes were highlighted and must be reviewed. Climate change is another very important phenomenon which we must take into consideration therefore we must plan for rising sea levels and food security. These are just a few of the issues which will be addressed n the national physical development plan,” she said.
She noted that other plans for Dominica’s physical development were drafted in the 70s and 80s, however those plans were never implemented.
She says the Physical Planning Division is moving away from the top-down approach of land development and this new project will give stakeholders the opportunity to make contributions to the country’s physical development.
The project was conceptualized in 2010 and approved for funding by the Caribbean Development Bank in 2013.
“The project comprises two phases. Phase I was the preparation of the policy which was completed in May 2014. It ran from December 2013. This process involved consultation with Government departments and agencies and a few private sector organizations and individuals.
“The policy was approved by Cabinet in May 2015 and that cleared the way for the commencement of the National Physical Development Plan which is Phase II.
“This component is a six month project which was launched in November 2015 with a training workshop for public and private sector workers.”
This training workshop laid the foundation for a framework report which will be presented to the public for their recommendations over the next few consultations.
Consultant, Rory Baksh of Dillon Consulting Limited congratulated the Government of Dominica for being one of the few islands in the Eastern Caribbean to develop such a policy.
He is hoping that soon a final draft will be presented to Cabinet for approval.
“Because we are in the process of developing a plan which is focused on achieving a plan for Dominica’s future, there is no right or wrong answers. It is about what we think is for the best,” he said to the participants.
“We have further consultations coming up with communities, agencies and private interests that will allow us to finalize the framework report. Once that is done we will move forward to the actual preparation of the physical development.
“Once we have an initial plan prepared- that is a series of maps and text, we will seek further stakeholder feedback. We hope to do that sometime in March or April and if we continue with this momentum, we hope to submit to Cabinet in May.”