CASTRIES DECLARATION - DECEMBER 10th 2018
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WHEREAS on the tenth day of December, Two Thousand and Eighteen a cross-section of Saint Lucians met in the Parliament Chamber in the City of Castries, in Saint Lucia at the People’s Forum, to discuss issues and raise awareness about the integral relationship between a healthy environment, the use and effect of harmful chemicals in the farm to table food chain, the benefits of an organic way of farming and eating and the need for research and innovation to address these issues, under the banner From the Soil and Water to the Palate – A Healthy Journey;
AND WHEREAS this theme signals a national concern for the state of our environment and the health of the people of Saint Lucia, and in particular, for the growing incidences of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including cancers;
BELIEVING that pollution of the soil, water, air and unhealthy lifestyles especially poor dietary choices affect our health and well-being;
CONCERNED to know whether there is a connection between soil health, the growing incidence of NCDs, cancers associated with farming practices, the presence of cancers in specific localities, and in workplaces in Saint Lucia, other illnesses and the use of toxic chemicals residing in pesticides and fertilizers;
ACKNOWLEDGING that while we are aware of the tremendous challenges faced by farmers trying to adopt an organic method of farming, we also note that harmful practices in food production systems and the improper use of toxic chemicals and contaminants will hurt generations of Saint Lucians;
RECOGNISING that the food chain is natural, and that there is an interrelationship between all living things, which balance must be maintained for a harmonious and sustainable way of living;
REALISING that if we do not commence research and urgent sustained action at the community and national levels and in the public and private sectors, costly health and related crises may result;
CONVINCED that Saint Lucians must unite to address these troubling issues of decline in environmental quality and the further increase of illnesses and death, which impacts negatively on productivity;
WE SOLEMNLY AND SINCERELY RESOLVE AND DECLARE that as a nation, we will be good stewards of the environment, agents of change towards a new vision of health and wellness, the promotion, cultivation, the consumption and use of organic products, for a better quality of life for all;
WE AGREE that there is a need to educate ourselves on the principles of organic farming, to share that knowledge, and to promote an organic way of living grounded in environmental awareness and practices, that assures that ecosystem services from soils and water are delivered in a safe and sustainable manner;
WE EMPHASIZE the importance of education which is gender sensitive, systematic data collection, research and innovation in knowledge creation about the environment, our behaviours and practices and how they affect our health now and in the future;
WE ENCOURAGE the Government of Saint Lucia to incentivise the organic method of farming; continue the training of farmers to use best practices in production; invest in the further development of Saint Lucia’s environmental and health monitoring systems; facilitate easy and timely access to accurate information;
WE URGE our Government to integrate into national laws for implementation sound land use policies, the creation of standards for the regulation and protection of our food source and international conventions concerning the environment that Saint Lucia has signed;
WE RECOMMEND that our Government promote a healthy and sustainable way of living, ecosystem-centered national policies and strategies guided by sound traditional knowledge and safe cultural practices as we encourage an appreciation of technology and innovation including protected agriculture;
WE ANTICIPATE the designation promised by the Government of The Decade of Research and Innovation and look forward to exploiting the ways in which the results can contribute to a healthy environment and improved livelihoods;
WE INVITE all Saint Lucians, civil society, community-based organisations, the differently-abled and the media to assist in driving the change to an organic pest and disease management system in sustainable and healthy food production;
WE SOLICIT the support of the private sector, friendly governments, bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies through sustainable financing, technical support and capacity building;
WE EMPHASIZE that this is a call to action to all Saint Lucians, particularly the youth to become involved in a more scientifically based organic farming method, but that this is the collective responsibility and business of all Saint Lucians, both within Saint Lucia and in the diaspora.
WE COMMIT to working together to improve the quality of the environment, paying attention to conservation, recycling and sustainable practices and to include more physical activity in our daily lives to combat NCDs and to ensure the security of our health.
Prepared and approved in the Parliament Chamber in Saint Lucia, on the 10th day of December Two Thousand and Eighteen at the People’s Forum, presented to Saint Lucians for their support and endorsement
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