The Business Year

Francisco Domí­nguez Brito


Strengthening Our Capabilities

Minister, Environment and Natural Resources


Francisco Domí­nguez Brito is a lawyer, politician, and public servant. In the past he has served as Attorney for the National District (1997-2000), Senator (2006-2010), Minister of Labor (2011-2012), and Attorney General of the Republic (2004-2006 and 2012-2016). He obtained a bachelor’s degree in law from Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM). He also completed a master’s degree in social thought at PUCMM and a master’s degree in civil law at Panthéon-Assas University in Paris.

TBY talks to Francisco Domí­nguez Brito, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, on green energy, protecting the environment, and priorities for 2017.

The Dominican Republic publicly announced its commitment to green energy and reducing gas emissions. What are its main short-term projects?

Since the Paris Convention, countries with higher emissions assumed a series of responsibilities toward reducing these and boosting green energies. There are various so-called vulnerable countries, and the Dominican Republic is among them; we need to get ready to take that step forward and better understand the funds available for these kinds of projects—public, private, multilateral organizations, and non-governmental organizations, for example. The overall objective is for Central America and the Caribbean to strengthen our capabilities for the formulation of projects. We need to keep in mind that sometimes the presentation of the project is one of the key parts of the same because a bad presentation can ruin its potential. Additionally, we work on the projects we can implement in our country in accordance with the Paris Convention. In this context, we prioritize those projects that can have an impact on both us and on neighboring countries, especially Haiti.

The Dominican Republic is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. What is the government’s long-term strategy to mitigate risks such as heavy rains?

President Medina labeled the next four years as the years of water. In this context, we are set to put a lot of effort on everything surrounding water protection and generation, with special attention on forests. Therefore, our medium to long-term strategy to mitigate risks focuses on taking care of our forests. The government has taken the lead in many areas and started to implement actions such as reforestation efforts across the country, especially in mountainous regions as well as vulnerable communities along river basins. Trees in these latter areas work as a sponge when we have heavy rains. The Environment Ministry is the main channel for implementing such actions. Taking into account the current situation in the country, our top priority is reforestation. However, we do not limit ourselves to reforestation; the sea and coral reefs are another of our priorities. We are trying to prevent fishing activity that can destroy coral reefs.

What is the future development of the Falcondo mine in Loma Miranda?

In this context, none of the studies or research developed by the ministry foresee the exploitation of Loma Miranda in the short to medium term. Requirements for the mine foresee the need of other technologies, which means the project has stalled. At the same time, we are waiting to see whether or not congress will designate the area a national park.

What do you see as the best way to incentivize the private sector to work towards sustainability as much as towards profitability?

One of the challenges we face is finding a balance between profitability and protecting the environment. Every company must have as one of its goals the protection of the environment. It is pointless to generate a lot of money as a company if at the end of the day we destroy the world we live in. But it is possible to develop a sustainable industry respecting life and the planet.

What are the priorities of the ministry for 2017?

We want to continue implementing our reforestation efforts and continue promoting investment in farming and agriculture. We want to increase protection efforts of those areas that the law describes as protected natural parks. We need to focus on protecting the rivers around these areas. We need to put a lot of attention on the protection of endangered species as well as sanctuaries and coral reefs. This is vital to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the areas. Finally, we need to continue working on the regulatory framework as well as the licensing and bureaucratic process. The main purpose of this is to make sure we facilitate the legalization of certain activities for companies.



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