June 15, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Environment ministers from Atlantic Canada met in Fredericton today to discuss regional approaches and co-operation on a number of environmental issues. They met under the auspices of the Council of Atlantic Environment Ministers.
The meeting was chaired by Environment Minister Rick Miles and attended by Newfoundland and Labrador‘s Environment and Conservation Minister Charlene Johnson, Nova Scotia's Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau and Prince Edward Island's Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Richard Brown.
The ministers addressed various subjects during the meeting, including developing shared information packages on cosmetic pesticides, climate change adaptation partnerships and clean air initiatives, all of which are areas of consideration in the development of a green economy, which was also the theme of the conference, Greening of the 21st Century.
"We hear more and more about the concept of a green economy," said Miles. "Large international and Canadian industries and businesses are starting to recognize that they have a central role to play in assisting the transition to a low carbon and resource efficient green economy. As government and environment ministers we also have a role to play. By having such discussions today on this subject, we were able to better understand the concept of a green economy and the opportunities it presents for our communities growth and development."
The ministers agreed on the importance of the Atlantic provinces investing in green projects and initiatives that provide opportunities for economic growth while offering innovative solutions to environmental issues.
"While our respective governments are already investing in green projects and technologies, we must accelerate our strategies in order to solve issues and, in doing so, increase employment and help stimulate our economies," said Belliveau.
"The development of science and technology applications that offer the potential to improve our quality of life and protect our environment are critical to the development of a green economy," added Johnson.
The ministers also discussed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Environmental Co-operation in Atlantic Canada. The MOU outlines a set of environmental management principles of co-operation and is designed to guide the creation of more specific agreements or annexes, the first of which is a water annex. A workshop for the water annex has been planned, and all the ministers agreed on the importance of moving forward on the water priorities that have been identified. The ministers will be forwarding a letter to their federal counterpart reemphasizing their support for the continuation of these initiatives.
They will also be forwarding a letter to federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice emphasizing their collective view that Environment Canada should work with the Municipal Wastewater Effluent (MWWE) Coordination Committee to bring the regulations in line with the MWWE Strategy. The ministers said that they must be given the opportunity to review the revised regulation before it is published in the Canada Gazette Part II.
The ministers agreed that the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility is a positive way to further reduce waste in the Atlantic region. Regional best practices were discussed, and ministers struck a working group to work on regional harmonization around packaging and other opportunities such as pharmaceuticals and construction and demolition debris.
"The Atlantic Region is successfully addressing environmental issues co-operatively," said Brown. "We have learned from other provinces in developing our electronic waste, pesticide reduction and beverage container programs. I look forward to further co-operation to strengthen our actions on the environment."
The next meeting of the Council of Atlantic Environment Ministers will be held in Prince Edward Island.
MEDIA CONTACTS:Jennifer Graham, Department of Environment,506-453-3700; Melony O'Neill, Department of Environment and Conservation, Newfoundland and Labrador, 709-729-2575, 709-689-0928; Jodi M. Sibley, Department of Environment, Nova Scotia, 902-424-7420; Kim Devine, Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry, Prince Edward Island, 902-368-5286.