The Falkland Islands Government this week published the legal framework to establish the Falkland Islands Environment Trust: a mechanism designed to collect funds and award grants to support persons engaged in “conservation, management, and enhancement of the environment.”
The publication of the ordinance in the Falkland Islands Gazette this week comes after Legislative Assembly gave final approval to the bill on 25 February. Speaking at the Assembly MLA Teslyn Barkman said the Environment Trust arose primarily out of a statutory requirement for hydrocarbon operators to offset environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated or avoided. She noted, however, that the ordinance allows for contributions to be made to the Trust by any person or organization.
MLA Barkman said: “The bill seeks to create a new statutory trust that is able to manage and receive payments for offsetting negative environmental impacts arising from any activities. It is anticipated that companies that are engaged in activities resulting in environmental impacts that cannot be avoided or mitigated can make contributions that will be managed by the trust for the purpose of offsetting the damage.
In the first instance, this is intended to offset negative environmental impacts for the Sea Lion development.”
Under the terms of the Falkland Islands Environment Trust Ordinance, management of the Trust will be carried out by a board of seven to nine trustees to be appointed by the Governor. MLA Barkman said the structure of the Trust was designed “to ensure decision making is managed independently of [the Falkland Islands Government] and to prevent any pseudo privatization of existing government commitments to the environment.”
The ordinance also lays out a requirement for the Trust to publish guidance relating to how applications for grants are assessed and approved, environmental funding priorities, and how activities funded by Trust grants are evaluated.
Speaking at Legislative Assembly, MLA Leona Roberts praised the introduction of the law, and called for the Falkland Islands Government to “kickstart” the trust by making a contribution: “While I understand that this bill and the setting up of this fund was primarily aimed at the hydrocarbons industry, I would really love the Falkland Islands Government to kickstart this fund with a contribution. I think we are very much a primary user of the environment and I think the statement of offsetting negative environmental impacts applies to us also. I think it will be discussed in the budget process, but I would just like to put that out there for consideration.”
Responding to MLA Roberts, MLA Barkman stressed that any government contribution to the Trust must not result in existing environmental budget lines being cut.
Although the Ordinance has now been published in the Falkland Islands Gazette, a commencement date has not been confirmed, and the Ordinance will not come into force until such a date is published in the Gazette.