III. EXISTING INSTITUTIONS AND MEASURES FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INTO DEVELOPMENT PLANNING AND DECISION-MAKING FOR SUVA CITY
C. Environmental administration in Suva
The municipal authorities are, in principle, the closest to urban environmental problems and the population that has to be protected. They therefore should have a significant function in the administration of control measures and should provide necessary services for environmental management programmes. However, even SCC, which is by far the largest of the local government entities, has not performed those functions in any systematic way. SCC is starting to pay more attention to environmental issues; however, environmental management is still very much on an ad hoc basis.
SCC seems to have been preoccupied with providing revenue generating services rather than with the environment and the sustainability of those resources for which it is responsible. That is not surprising given that national environmental policies have no basis for practical application at the local level. This situation may change with the enactment of the Sustainable Development Act, although under the Act there are no formal mechanisms for linking the central government agencies with local government entities in terms of environmental management.
The environmental functions of SCC are scattered among its different departments, and particularly the Department of Health Services. The SCC focus is more on the administration of public health rather than environmental concerns, although the distinction between the two is becoming blurred as environmental problems are being increasingly seen as a public health concern. The Department of Health Services also addresses environmental health problems such as garbage collection, waste disposal, drainage control and waterways. The problems of squatters, with the accompanying serious environmental and public health implications, are also addressed by the Department of Health Services. In addition, some limited environmental planning is undertaken by the Planning Section of the Department of Engineering.
The City Planner comes under the Department of Engineering Services which also administers traffic and building engineering, and is concerned with parks and recreation and areas. The fact that the City Planners come under the Engineering Services appears to be a structural weakness in terms of environmental management. To avoid any ad hoc development that may be deleterious to the environment, the City Planner needs to control engineering activities and not the other way around. For SCC to achieve its sustainable development objectives it would be appropriate to create an independent Department of Planning and the Environment. That new department could also be organized to enable it to take on some of the non-health functions which are currently the responsibility of the Department of Health Services.