V. CASE STUDY ON ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN SUVA: ANTI-LITTER DECREE
[ A | B | C ]
C. Contribution of experiences to environmental enhancement
The implementation of the Anti-Litter Decree has been a "hot and cold" issue since its enactment in 1991. However, it is the first environmentally-connected law to which all citizens can relate. It is also one of the few laws where serious enforcement and monitoring efforts have been attempted. Hence several lessons can be derived from its successes as well as its failures. The experience provides insights into what may be legally feasible at the present time in Fiji, at least in the short term. It thus provides a very useful microcosm of the type of problems that might be encountered with the implementation of the much more comprehensive Sustainable Development Bill.
Some of the lessons include:
- The need for policy makers and implementers to be prepared to take a long-term view if sustainable results are to be achieved. Fiji's stop-start approach to implementing environmental programmes is, at best, ineffective and, at worst, counter-productive;
- The need to listen more to front-line enforcement officers when designing and modifying programmes, since they have the closest involvement with the problems of implementation. Much more two-way, vertical communication from the minister downward is required;
- An understanding of the fact that the littering problem cannot be solved by legislation alone. Continuous public education is required in order to increase awareness about litter problems and change behaviour patterns. Monetary penalties are not sufficient The significant SCC public awareness campaign was a good start, but it was not sufficient. A much more substantial and sustained programme is clearly necessary;
- The need for laws and administrative arrangements to be flexible and regularly updated in the light of changing circumstances and the practicalities of implementation;
- A strong positive response can be achieved from local government enforcement authorities through financial incentives which are associated with legislation;
- The requirement of a long-term, sustained effort to change the entrenched negative public attitude to enforcement. Attitudes which have built up over the years of neglecting to enforce legislation are becoming more and more difficult to modify. A combination of significant penalties, consistent enforcement and ongoing education is required;
- The realization of how ineffective current civil law is with respect to pollution control. Civil law in Fiji does not function effectively because most people do not have the time, the commitment or the money to take a polluter to court. Polluters often harm society at large rather than an individual, thus making court action difficult. Pollution has an impact on areas of the environment which belong to everybody, with no individual having a specific responsibility for protection. However, it is expected that this situation will change with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Act, since the Act gives far greater power to the State to protect the environment on behalf of its citizens.