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Dec 14, 2016

Reviewing the Role of the Environmental Clearance Process

How sustainable and environmentally sound is the process of developing tourism and industry projects, such as offshore drilling? Well, an initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, which started in 2015, is looking at that. Earlier this year, the Spanish firm Limia and Martin was hired to carry out an in-depth analysis of the Environmental Clearance Process, better known as the EIA carried out by the Department of the Environment. Its aim was to identify weaknesses and gaps in the procedures, which were last amended back in 2006. Today, a one-day workshop brought together stakeholders from the public sector and environmentalists from the N.G.O. community together to identify relevant feedback to be included in the final assessment report and legislation.

 

Martin Alegria

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer

“The bigger context is the environmental screening or environmental clearance process of proposed undertakings, development in Belize from an environmental perspective. That if we could recall, started in 1996 through the Environmental Protection Acts EIA regulations. So between ’96 and 2006, we realized that we need to modernize, update, actualize your procedure, your laws, etc. etc. based on science, technology and equipment that have been developed or improved on. So we did an improvement on the environmental screening process back then, but now it is 2016. So like I said, last year, we started an initiative to look at the entire Department of the Environment and try to bring the Department of Environment to an international level status—not only in the environmental clearance process, but in many other roles and responsibilities we have.”

 

Emmanuel Martin

Emmanuel Martin, General Manager, Limia & Martin

“The major findings were related to a lack of efficiency and efficacy of the project in the views of many participants in the process. It also lacks transparency for many of them. So part of that is related to the way the legislation has been designed but other is based on the way things are done. So that can be improved either through changes in legislation or practices.”

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