Partners meet to validate new environment protection law


Prof. Payet addressing guests and delegates at the launch of the meeting yesterday

Eight meetings have been held before this workshop which aimed to consult with partners and members of the public on the revision of the Environment Protection Bill which will replace the Environment Protection Act of 1994 (EPA).

The workshop was held by the ministry in collaboration with the government of Seychelles, United Nations Development Programme, Global Environmental Facility (GOS/UNDP/GEF) programme coordination unit.

Attending the workshop held at the Seychelles Trading Company’s conference room were officials from the ministry, other government departments, representatives of the UNDP and of the GOS/UNDP/GEF programme coordination unit and other partners.

The new Environment Protection Bill comes as part of a UNDP supported project − Mainstreaming biodiversity management into production sector activities − funded by GEF with a budget of US $3.6m and being carried out by the GOS/UNDP/GEF programme coordination unit.

The new law will serve to provide for the protection, improvement and preservation of the environment and for the prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution towards a sustainable country.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Environment and Energy Professor Rolph Payet said the Environment Protection Act (EPA) 1994 is a modern piece of legislation that completely changed the way development, planning and environmental management is practiced in the country.

“Through its application, concepts such as environmental impacts assessment (EIA), public involvement, prioritising of environmental concerns, and use of tools such as sensitivity mapping, integrated coastal zone management for development planning have been mainstreamed in the country,” he said.

“The EPA also caused a change in enforcement by environmental agencies through granting of more powers to a wide range of authorised officers, and provided the enabling environment for regulating a whole range of activities from the imports of plastic bags to hazardous waste, to ozone depleting substances.”

It is estimated that a total of around 75 EIAs and associated public meetings have taken place since the enactment of the EPA.

It is recognised that although the EPA can still deliver on many of the aspects for which it was designed, there is still the necessity to enhance its provisions to allow it to cope with new emerging issues, he added.

Professor Payet said Seychelles faces a number of challenges such as climate change, increased pressure on land and marine resources which did not exist at the time when the EPA 1994 was enacted.

“In order to face these new challenges, the EPA would need to be provided more powers for intervention in these areas and in many ways allow the possibility to be reviewed,” he said.

Professor Payet said in addition to modernising the law to cope with new challenges, the revision is being proposed in order to incorporate some of the progress that Seychelles has made as a nation.

For example the citizens’ right to participate in environment policy issues, independence of appeals mechanisms and the contribution and responsibilities of individuals towards environmental management.

Professor Payet said following this validation meeting, his ministry will now take this draft bill for consideration by the Cabinet and eventual presentation to the National Assembly.