By Wezi Tjaronda
The Environmental Management Act may be fully implemented by the end of this year, Director of Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Teofilus Nghitila has said.
He told New Era yesterday the ministry hopes to have complemented the Regulations for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which are tools for the implementation of the legislation.
On Tuesday, the ministry held an awareness workshop for its stakeholders to inform them on the legislation, explain how it may affect lives of people and businesses and also to present and discuss the draft regulations, procedures and guidelines for EIA and SEA.
Nghitila said the input from the workshop would be forwarded to the Attorney General’s office for inclusion in the draft regulations.
While the ministry is working on the regulations, it is at the same time establishing institutions that are provided for in the Act, such as the Sustainable Development Advisory Council and the Environmental Commissioner and environmental offices.
This comes at a time when more projects that have a serious impact on the environment are being proposed due to an increase in development. Last year alone, the ministry handled more than 200 environmental impact assessment reports and mining claims, according to Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
The trend has continued this year with the ministry seeing an increase in the number of project proposals especially in the mineral exploration field.
What is of concern though is that most of the development activities are being proposed in areas whose environment is sensitive, in protected areas, national parks as well as in water deficient ecosystems.
Ndaitwah said the projects need good environment management tools to minimise the negative impact of the activities on the environment.
Ndaitwah was speaking at the opening of the workshop. The minister said developing tools for the implementation of the Act is a giant step to ensure Namibia’s future generations inherit an environment similar to what the current generation is enjoying.
She said the Act is an essential mechanism to allow for the achievement of environmental goals stipulated both in Namibia’s Constitution and the Millennium Development Goals.
The Act, which came into force in December last year, ensures that people take into consideration the impact of activities on the environment carefully and allow affected people to participate in environment assessments.
The Act also provides for the sustainable management of the environment and use of natural resources by establishing principles for decision-making on matters affecting the environment, a process of assessment and control of activities that may have significant effects of the environment.
The ministry will also conduct awareness workshops for coastal stakeholders in Swakopmund this Friday and for the north and central areas in Tsumeb on 23 July.
As part of awareness, Nghitila said: “We have simplified the draft regulations and we will translate them into vernacular languages and we will also work with our stakeholders to popularise the legislation.”