III. MECHANISMS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS INTO ECONOMIC DECISION-MAKING
G. Role of the private sector and non-governmental organizations in planning and the central decision-making process
Government policy is to encourage dialogue with the private sector. The National Economic Summits held intermittently over the last decade have embraced the participation of representatives from NGOs, businesses and public sector corporations. Although the summits have made it possible to exchange of views on national economic and social issues and government policies, and subject them to critical appraisal, they have had limited influence on policy formulation.
With respect to environmental issues, the dialogue has been less successful than that on other development issues. The public and government of Fiji has yet to acquire full understanding of the environmental consequences of certain developments. However, since the Cabinet approved the development of a comprehensive Sustainable Development Act the situation appears to be changing. For example, the business community has shown a keen interest in taking part in the development of the Act. As a group, it has been the most active in commenting on the draft, and much of the reaction has been positive. The presence of the private sector and NGOs in NCSD will create the mechanism for systematic cooperation between the private sector and the government on environmental issues.
The new Act will provide the basis for creating, through a public consultation process, a variety of new environmental management policy initiatives including:
The institutional structure to be established under the Sustainable Development Bill will result in an environmental policy which will entail broader consultation with, and participation by, the stakeholders. Decisions taken in transparent consultation with the community and the private sector have much more chance of being successful.