Environmental Court Judge Merideth Wright, of Vermont, USA will be the keynote speaker at the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals (JIEP) fourth Annual General Meeting (AGM). Judge Wright will make a presentation on å“Recent Developments in Environment and Planning Laws in the U.S.A.å” The AGM is scheduled for Wednesday, June 18, 2003 at the Terra Nova Hotel.
Judge Wright will be in Jamaica to attend workshops aimed at Supreme Court Judges in a series of symposia being conducted by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to sensitise the local judiciary to environmental and planning laws.
In commenting on the relevance of Judge Wright’s presentation, Vice-President of JIEP, Mrs. Karen McDonald-Gayle noted that, “one of the major problems in Jamaica today is limited knowledge and adherence to environmental and planning laws.” She emphasised that Judge Wright will use her American experience to highlight some of the innovative approaches towards improving compliance and enforcement of these laws in Jamaica. She will also explore the advantages of a dedicated Environmental Court.
Judge Wright is a trial judge responsible for developing jurisprudence and procedures for newly-created environmental trial courts with statewide jurisdiction and is also responsible for conducting evidentiary hearings, issuing orders, imposing penalties, and approving settlements in environmental enforcement cases. She is a lawyer with twenty-nine years experience who has served in the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. Judge Wright is a lecturer in Environmental Law and was one of two staff attorneys in the Vermont Supreme Court responsible for the management of appellate cases within the Court.
The Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals (JIEP), founded in 2000, aims to encourage the implementation of professional standards evenly across Jamaica’s public and private sectors. Through its work, JIEP intends to provide a network for communication and support for environmental professionals and to assist in the adherence to professional standards.
This AGM is supported by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and the United States Agency for International Development.
Meanwhile, the second in the series of three judiciary workshops gets underway at the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Hotel, in Ocho Rios, from June 20 - 22, 2003 under the theme “Environmental Management Issues in Jamaica: Perspectives”. The workshops are to be completed in July, later this year and were organized by NEPA with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency’s Environment Action (ENACT) Program and the United States Agency for International Development’s Ridge to Reef Watershed Management Project (R2RW).
Both ENACT and R2RW are jointly supported by the Government of Jamaica, through NEPA.