The Parliamentary Representative for Soufriere, Hon. Harold Dalson says he is deeply saddened by the recent revelation that the Pitons World Heritage Status is in danger.
On Friday June 15, 2012, Senator Dr. James Fletcher, Minister for Sustainable Development informed the public via a joint press conference with Mr. Bishnu Toolsi, Executive Director of the National Trust that,
“The World Heritage Committee (WHC) has indicated that at the upcoming 36th Session of the Committee, which will be held in Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation, the Pitons Management Area (PMA) of Saint Lucia will be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.”
According to the Minister for Sustainable Development, “The decision of the Committee stems out of an “extreme concern” that despite the commitment given by the then UWP administration at the 34th Session of the WHC in Brasilia in 2010 that it would enforce a moratorium on all new developments in the PMA, five additional developments were approved by the Stephenson King government in 2011.”
Hon. Harold Dalson expressed his disappointment over the matter and described as “unfortunate”, the actions of the previous government. “I am very concerned about this recent development because the prestigious title of World Heritage Site which was bestowed upon Soufriere is one that should have made and should continue to make the people of Soufriere and indeed all Saint Lucians proud.
The designation added value to our natural endowment that we possess and are trying to develop to present to the world as a product in the tourism market.
The consideration to list the site as one which is in danger, suggests that the authorities allowed certain actions by way of developments to take place within the area, not in cognizant of the stipulations enshrined in the charter and that means the site itself will not be able to translate into benefits for the people of Soufriere.”
Minister Dalson hastened to add that he is not of the opinion that the designation of World Heritage should stifle the economic development of the Piton Management Area. He believes that if the former government adhered to the policies outlined, they too would be in a position to achieve the “happy balance” between preservation and development.
“As an administration, we know the policies that will keep us with our investment ongoing and also preserve the integrity of the site. We are going to maintain the integrity; whatever that was in the area that caused us to win the award, we must preserve that and jealously guard that. At the same time, we must respond to the economic needs of the people; so there must be a happy balance between preservation of the environment and whatever assets are in the area which caused us to win the award and at the same time facilitate development in the area. After all the designation should be adding value to any investment that is taking place in the area, for as long as the investment is not infringing on the natural integrity of the area and for as long as it is not causing any negative repercussions as far as an assessment by UNESCO would indicate.”
Hon. Harold Dalson is confident, that Senator Dr. James Fletcher, Minister for Sustainable Development will do all in his power to save Saint Lucia the embarrassment of being placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and preserve the international image of our country.
The status of World Heritage Site was awarded to the Piton Management Area by UNESCO at the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in China on June 30th, 2004.