The Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration is committed to conserving the environment of the British Virgin Islands. It will ensure that decision-making is based on the best information available to preserve and develop the natural resources of the Territory and that the necessary legislation is put into place to support it.
This webpage will serve as the hub providing easy access to information pertaining to the environment. The Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration is working on a range of legislation, policies and strategies, on-the-ground projects, education and public awareness of environmental issues, research/studies, introduction of innovative technologies, development and establishment of incentive programmes. The Ministry intends to share vital information with the public regarding environmental initiatives.
The Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration seeks to manage the resources of the British Virgin Islands in the best way possible to ensure the prosperity of the Territory and the people of the Virgin Islands.
Beach Use Policy
The Government of the Virgin Islands recognises that the beaches of the Virgin Islands are areas of traditional, cultural, social, economic and ecological importance to the Virgin Islands. Beaches are public and of free access (use) to all throughout the Territory. In recognition of their significance, beaches must be managed to ensure their sustainability for generations to come. As such, the principal aim of the Beach Use Policy is to balance access to and rational use of beaches while ensuring their ecological integrity.
The policy aims to balance the interests of all persons who vie to use the same physical space, while maintaining the ecological integrity of the beach. Business and commercial ventures may either complement or compete with the rights of individual beachgoers who want to recreate or undertake different types of activities. At the same time, agencies responsible for the management of beaches must ensure that the natural ecosystem functions are conserved. The beach policy serves as a guide on the procedures that must be completed for various uses of beaches that beach goers and/or vendors may desire to do on our beaches.
Long Bay, Beef Island Beach Management Plan
Long Bay, Beef Island is the first of many beaches in the Territory for which a comprehensive beach management plan has been developed under the auspices of The Virgin Islands Beach Policy 2020. The Plan seeks to promote more sustainable recreational and economic use of the beach while ensuring environmental protection. In particular, the vision of the Plan is “a beach we can all be proud of where protection of the natural environment is prioritized and where local recreational, spiritual, cultural, economic and tourist needs are carefully balanced.”
The planning process was led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and involved inter-agency consultation and public consultation, including:
- A public survey focused on identifying the desired vision for the beach and current levels of satisfaction/dissatisfaction and desires in relation to specific beach features
- In-person and virtual public meetings on the Conceptual Plan in March 2022
- In-person and virtual public meetings on the Draft Detailed Plan in October 2022
The Plan was finalized in December 2022, taking into consideration comments received during the public consultations and before the close of the public comment period on November 15, 2022.
Green Paper Introduction on the Proposed Environmental Management and Climate Adaption Bill
The Green Paper on the Proposed Environmental Management and Climate Adaptation Bill outlines the Government’s approach to establishing legislation to safeguard the environment in keeping with the constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment that should be afforded to every resident of the Virgin Islands. The proposed framework also outlines the mechanisms that the Territory will employ to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Improved environmental management and greater awareness of the manner in which the Territory will preserve its valuable and fragile habitats, marine ecosystems and species while building resilience to climate-related hazards are critical outcomes which will ensure the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources.
Marine Prevention Pollution Guidelines
Pollutants and sediment in the water affects marine life and human health. The presence may reduce availability of quality seafood, increase dredging costs and adversely affect tourism products, fishing and water sports. We must do our part to keep the water of the Virgin Islands pristine and safe for the generations to come.
Environmental Protection for the British Virgin Islands
The Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration (MNRLI) is responsible for the environment. The BVI Constitution 2007 states:
“Every person has the right to an environment that is generally not harmful to his or her health or well-being and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through such laws as may be enacted by the Legislature including laws to-
a) Prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
b) Promote conservation; and
c) Secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.”
Marine Estate Administration Policy
The Marine Estate Administration Policy updates the guidance used by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration since 1996 for the issuance of licences, permits and leases for the use of the seabed. The Policy is founded on four main values which are equity, balance, fairness, and transparency. The guidelines should guide the public regarding how applications for use of the seabed will be considered.
Virgin Islands 2019 Ecosystem Account Summary
Ecosystem accounts provide economic evidence that supports the delivery of sustainable value from environmental assets. Effective management of the environment must consider the extent and underlying condition of ecosystems over time, as well as the range of benefits they provide and the economic value of those benefits to different stakeholder groups. Specifically, the data in ecosystem accounts can help address several fundamental questions for policy and planning.
For ecosystem accounts to be a valuable addition to government and organisational policy and planning strategy, they should be embedded into the decision-making process, and updated on an annual basis both to provide current data and to monitor trends over time. A partnership of EFTEC, the UK Joint Nature
Conservation Committee (JNCC), the New Economics Foundation, and BVI’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration with Darwin Plus funding from the UK Government, have initiated this process in BVI and it is hoped that with support, full ownership of the accounting process is handed over to the Government of BVI by Q1 2022.
Virgin Islands 2020 Ecosystem Account Summary
Ecosystem Accounts provide economic evidence that supports the delivery of sustainable value from environmental assets1. Effective management of the environment must consider the extent and underlying condition of ecosystems over time, as well as the range of benefits they provide and the economic value of those benefits to different stakeholder groups. Specifically, the data in Ecosystem Accounts can help address several fundamental questions for policy and planning:
• What environmental assets are present and what state are they in? How does this change over time?
• What benefits does the environment provide? How are these received by beneficiaries?
• What is the economic value of these benefits? How is this value distributed across the population?