Environmental Policy & Law

In early 1987 when the Caribbean Conservation Association and Island Resources Foundation took on the task of preparing Country Environmental Profiles for the Eastern Caribbean , we knew it would be a formidable task. What we did not fully realize was the magnitude of that effort. Before the Profile Project ended, an unprecedented assemblage of institutions, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and individuals would become involved in a first-of-its-kind effort to examine and assess priority environmental issues in eight Eastern Caribbean countries

[From: Judith A. Towle, ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA FOR THE 1990’s, published in 1991]

In the early 1970s, Island Resources Foundation prepared the first environmental guidelines designed specifically to meet the development needs of insular areas (Ecological Guidelines for Island Development , published by IUCN in 1974). Therein, for the first time, the Foundation called global attention to the special development requirements of small island areas.

For four decades, the Foundation assisted island governments in the establishment of national environmental policies, guidelines, legislation, and regulatory procedures that strengthened resource management, physical planning and the development control process. Its work in this sector included:

  • Conflict resolution and environmental arbitration
  • Economic impact analyses of natural resource development
  • Policy analyses and case studies of insular resource management issues
  • Co-management strategies for natural resource development
  • Evaluation of environmental institutions, legislation, and programs.

A key undertaking by the Foundation was the preparation and publication of Country Environmental Profiles for the Eastern Caribbean , a sector-by-sector review of the state of the environment in six Caribbean countries and two Caribbean territories: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Each Profile included an assessment of the institutional framework supporting conservation and resource management in target islands, as well as recommendations for policy and procedural changes. Although published in the early 1990s, the Profiles remain the most comprehensive environmental overviews prepared for each of the eight target islands.

Beginning in 2008, the Foundation began work on what would emerge as a series of individual Island Environmental Profiles for the British Virgin Islands, with the final profile report published in 2015.  These documents — for Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and the sister islands of Tortola — were designed to increase understanding of environmental change, help to build workable solutions, and enhance options for a sustainable future in the British Virgin Islands.

The Foundation provided legal assistance to the Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) for preparation of a new National Parks Act (2006), and Regulations to the Act (2008), a modern piece of legislation reflecting international policy, standards and practice. Its enactment significantly strengthened the policy and legal framework for the BVI parks system, and provides one of the most up-to-date and effective frameworks for protected area management in the insular Caribbean.

Learn More

Ed Towle wrote a history of attempts to set up a territorial parks system in the US Virgin Islands, dating back to the 1940s. HISTORY OF PROTECTED AREA INITIATIVES.[PDF]