The National, Tuesday June 18th, 2013
By SHIRLYN BELDEN
CABINET has approved a proposed legislation to modify the role of Department of Environment and Conservation to effectively regulate the growing demand of environment management in the resource sector.
The submission has sought approval for the creation and establishment of Conservation Environment and Protection Authority (CEPA) which will retain and accommodate environment protection and conservation function under the Environment Act 2000 and Conservation Areas Act 1978 respectively.
Environment and Conservation Minister John Pundari said the legislation proposed to transform the department to CEPA so it could effectively develop and implement the government’s sustainability policies and programmes in all major development sectors like mining, petroleum and gas, forestry, agro-forestry, fisheries, manufacturing and water resources.
Pundari said that CEPA was not a commercial statutory authority to generate revenue but had a revenue model that would charge fees to all applicants and holders of environment permits.
He said the purpose to transform the department into a statutory body was to remove constraints for an effective environment regulation, management of water resources and biodiversity and policy development and implementation.
“CEPA is unique in that the environment regulation and conservation functions are kept under one roof giving the government greater ability to effectively coordinate policy and regulatory activities,” Pundari said in a statement last week.
“The structure is designed to protect the state’s sovereign right to make policies and laws for environment protection and biodiversity conservation and related functions where it gives the minister the powers to set annual priorities for CEPA and to have final approval of both the budget and annual plan to ensure it properly takes into account ministerial and government priorities,” he said.
Pundari said one of the current constraints faced is lack of funding that has hindered the department to fully carry out its responsibilities.
“CEPA will also allow for more innovative partnership opportunities with the private sector and strengthen opportunities arising from payment for ecosystem services initiatives.”
The minister said an extensive consultation with government agencies and industries led to the creation of the proposed legislation.