III. MECHANISMS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS INTO ECONOMIC DECISION-MAKING
The focus of chapter II was on the different institutions with tasks linked in varying degrees to the environment. The discussion was, in most cases, limited to the functions and organization of individual institutions. As noted in chapter II, Fijiís institutions are sectoral in orientation. Yet the environment does not have sectoral boundaries. Hence institutions which are responsible for environmental resources are bound to interact with each other. While interacting, some agencies (such as those with the role of controlling harmful ad hoc development activities) are sometimes constrained in performing their duties by other agencies which have conflicting goals. Further, a bias often exists in favour of those agencies which have greater influence in the government and which promote economic growth. Thus, when a conflict of interest occurs, the outcome is often in favour of the stronger agency. That is especially a problem for a junior entity such as the Department of the Environment.
The Department of the Environment lacks the status of a Ministry in the Fiji government system. It therefore lacks significant influence in decision-making, which ultimately affects the implementation of its policies. A further disadvantage is that it is often perceived to be against economic development and therefore against the current primary objective of the government. It is sometimes argued that the Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and the Environment takes care of the interests of the Department of the Environment. However, the Minister of Housing, Urban Development and the Environment does not have a seat on the Economic Strategy Committee, the paramount body for setting economic policy. Furthermore, the Ministry is responsible for housing, which is a development activity and therefore may conflict with environmental concerns.
This chapter first considers the political environment within which the decision making process operates. It then outlines the current decision-making process and gives an analysis of the extent to which environmental considerations are taken into account in the decision-making machinery for national development. It also illustrates some of the conflicts which occur between the different ministries and government agencies and how those conflicts are either resolved or remain unsolved.