THE JAMAICA Environment Trust (JET) has a new boss and she is prioritising the sustainability of the organisation’s advocacy work while advancing public education and conservation awareness and attracting the required financing to do so.
She is Dr Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, who joined the team at JET as chief executive officer (CEO) on July 1, succeeding Suzanne Stanley, who resigned last year.
“JET is very aligned with environmental awareness, education and advocacy and I wanted to be able to contribute in this way,” the former director and manager of environmental management services at the consultancy firm, Environmental Solutions Limited, told The Gleaner.
As one example, she said the public needs to be made aware that the request for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is not sufficient to satisfy their concerns over any development. What is also needed is an environmental and social management plan.
“I think that one of the benefits of having worked at Environmental Solutions Limited is that I was exposed to different types of guidelines and agencies and their requirements and so forth; and for Jamaica to take seriously our environmental resources and to manage them effectively, we definitely need to have a stronger framework. The EIA identifies the impact and the environmental and social management plan tells how we are going to manage those impacts,” she explained.
“We also need to know, is there a grievance mechanism, and how is it to be implemented? It is important that people understand that it is not just about a permit and that there are other things they should be demanding of these developments,” Rodriguez-Moodie added.
There is, too, she noted, a need to lift the level of public appreciation for environmental concerns, in particular among developers.
“I have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients, but I always felt that that appreciation was missing, that oftentimes they came to consultants out of a need but not necessarily because they appreciated the issues,” noted the environmental professional who has a background in natural resource management, climate change adaptation and vulnerability, as well as project management.
She is hoping to make a dent there as well.
Fundraising is also high on Rodriguez-Moodie’s agenda, given, among other things, the blow dealt by the pandemic.
“COVID-19 really had an impact on us over the last year and so several of our programmes got put on hold or cancelled,” she said.
Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica and the long-running Schools Environment Programme, she noted, are two efforts that are now without public funding. The coming months are, therefore, to see Rodriguez-Moodie and the team going after new and additional resources.
Chairman of JET, Douglas Stiebel, has welcomed the new CEO.
“She has an impressive track record as an environmental consultant, and we are confident that she will achieve similar results in the NGO sector. As we celebrate JET’s 30th anniversary this year, we are excited to be entering this new phase in the organisation’s leadership and fully expect more great work from the JET team,” he said in a news release on her appointment.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted JET’s operations and ability to recruit new leadership, I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish this past year, in less-than-ideal circumstances. The process of identifying a new JET CEO has been a long one, which started even before the onset of the pandemic. As a board, we knew we had to approach the task with great consideration to ensure we found someone who is the right fit. The JET board is equipped with the experience and institutional knowledge to support Theresa as she transitions into her new role, and she is well-positioned to pick up the mantle,” he added.