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What are the main responsibilities and what is the coordinating role?
The need for coordination arises because environmental issues fall within the sphere of influence of more than one ministry or area of operation. Coordination is also necessary in order to meet the sustainable development goals of protecting the environment while maximising economic objectives. Coordination is required to remove overlaps and conflicts of interests and also to ensure successful implementation of national sustainable development strategies.
Examples of the need for coordination due to overlapping interest:
In Tonga, the management of water supplies is the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Ministry of Lands Surveys and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Workd (MOW) and the Tonga Water Board. There is also grassroots involvement through Village Water Committees. The MOH has overall responsibility for the development of rural water supplies and for evaluating the quality of water. MOH works with the Village Water Committees to maintain village water supply systems. The MOW is responsible for public construction, including causeways, roads, government buildings and drainage systems. MAF monitors the use of pesticides and impacts on the water supply system.
The overlapping responsibilities in the management of water resources has led to conflicts which are some times not resolved adequately. A typical example is the pollution of ground water resources by the squash industry. Squash exports are crucial to Tonga's economy in terms of employment and foreign exchange earnings. However, it involves high fertiliser and pesticide usage. Indications are that this is beginning to impact adversely on the water system. It would appear that immediate concerns about unemployment and export income have over ridden long-term concerns about the sustainability of the industry.
Land use planning involves four government departments: Agriculture, Agrarian Reforms, Trade and Industry and Environment and Natural Resources. In this case, coordination is required to ensure the development of a coherent set of land use policies, and also to assign responsibilities to the various departments.
Three government departments are involved in research, production and export of cotton: Pakistan Cotton Committee, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. Coordination is required to formulate and implement government policies and strategies in the sector.
Examples of the coordination role to remove conflicts of interest:
Squash production, a major source of export earnings and foreign exchange, uses large quantities of fertilisers and pesticides which have the potential to adversely affect the water table. In the case, co-ordination is required between the Ministries of Trade, Agriculture and Forestry, and Lands Survey and Natural Resources to determine production levels and pricing of farm inputs.
Tagaytay City is a popular tourist destination where conflict has arisen between tourism development and environmental conservation In this case, coordination is required among the various stakeholders to formulate and implement government policies.