Meeting with Minister for the Environment, Cambodia.

Minister of the Environment

On Monday 12 September, in Phnom Penh, I was honoured to attend a meeting with His Excellency Say Samal, Minister of the Environment, Government of Cambodia, together with representatives from the USEPA and Vishnu Law Group. The meeting was to provide an update on the draft Environmental Code for Cambodia. The USEPA and other US government agencies have been providing expert assistance to Vishnu Law Group. Vishnu Law Group is coordinating the preparation and drafting of a new Environmental Code for Cambodia with the Ministry of the Environment.

Minister of the Environment

Minister of the Environment HE Say Samal

Outline of Environmental Code of Cambodia released for review

Launch of the Outline Draft of the Environmental Code of Cambodia.

The outline of the Environmental Code of Cambodia was released for public comment and review at a workshop in Phnom Penh on 4 April 2016. At the workshop, hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Vishnu Law Group, and attended by members of the Sub-Technical Working Groups, other Government Ministries, and CSOs, there was lively discussion about the Principles for the Environmental Code and the draft outline of the Environmental Code.

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ASEAN ICHR Worksop on Environment and Human Rights

Human Rights the Environment and Climate Change

The AICHR Workshop on the Implementation of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Environment and Climate Change in Mandalay, Myanmar was a follow up from the Workshop on Human Rights, Environment and Climate Change conducted in September 2014. The workshop was organized and led by the Representative of Myanmar to the AICHR, H.E. U Kyaw Tint Swe, with the support of the Regional EU – ASEAN Dialogue Instrument and additional assistance from ASEAN US Progress. At the last workshop the AICHR was expected to play a key role in further integration of Human Rights Based Approach towards environmental policy making and protection.

The purpose of this year’s Workshop was to develop a deeper understanding on the human rights obligations relating to the environment in the ASEAN context and explore how a regional response may be initiated with the involvement of relevant stakeholders.

The workshop was conducted over a period of two days discussing topics revolving around the current state with regards to human rights obligations vis-à-vis the environment and climate change, environmental impact assessment tools for ASEAN, legal frameworks, the protection of women, children and other vulnerable groups, and a possible framework for ASEAN.

The Workshop was attended by distinguished speakers, relevant ASEAN bodies/ working groups on Environment, national human rights institutions, academia/think tanks, judiciary, civil society organisations and others. The first session of the Workshop was opened by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Mr John Knox. Mr Knox highlighted key aspects of human rights and the environment and the need to strike a balance between environmental protection and economic development. The session was also graced by Prof. Dr. Nay Htun, who was a former UN Assistant Secretary-General, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General for the UNDP.

The Workshop benefited from the exchange of views and experiences from expert speakers in the fields of human rights, the environment, and climate change from ASEAN and overseas, including Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn (former UN Special Rapporteur), Honorary Prof. Jaap Spier, Dr Matthew Baird, and Prof. Dinah Shelton.

Some of the topics that were highlighted included the gap between legalization and implementation/enforcement, the need to place a focus on the marginalized and vulnerable groups, and the necessity to have a fuller grasp of the expertise that ASEAN countries can share and contribute to a possible regional framework.

– See more at: http://aichr.org/press-release/press-release-aichr-workshop-on-the-implementation-of-human-rights-obligations-relating-to-the-environment-and-climate-change-26-27-september-2015-mandalay-myanmar/#sthash.Qu1FbazD.dpuf

Human Rights the Environment and Climate Change

Human Rights the Environment and Climate Change

Shared Solutions: Regional Symposium of Sustainable Development

Opening roundtable
Opening roundtable

Opening roundtable

Over 140 representatives from Government, NGO and the private sector gathered in Bangkok, Thailand to shared strategies and experiences on safeguarding sustainable development in the Mekong Region. The Symposium was hosted by PACT – Mekong Partnership on the Environment, Thailand’s Office of Natural Resources and Environment, USAID, Government of Sweden, and the Stockholm Environment Institute.

DR. Vinod Thomas, Director General of the Independent Evaluation at the Asian Development Bank, gave the keynote presentation on the Business Case for Social and Environmental Safeguards in Infrastructure Lending.

Matthew Baird, gave an opening presentation at the Plenary Session giving an overview of the significant developments in Environmental Impact Assessment in the Mekong Region. He highlighted some of the common themes and challenges in the region.

This was followed by a panel presentation from senior officials from EIA Units in the region. Each of these EIA Directors provided some interesting experiences on the challenges faced by government on EIA.

Impact Assessment and ASEAN Economic Community

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I was fortunate to be invited to present at the Impact Assessment and the ASEAN Economic Community: A Way Forward for Regional Cooperation. This Regional Workshop was held in May 2015 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Workshop was hosted by the Vietnam Environment Administration, AECEN and Pact with funding by USAID.

The Workshop examined the role of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in promoting sustainable development in the Mekong Region and ASEAN.

My presentation was an overview of EIA in the Mekong Region with particular emphasis on public participation.

Vermont Law School EIA Clinic with MOECAF in Myanmar

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Vermont Law School has recommenced a program from 2014 working closely with the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Forestry of Myanmar.The program provides for a monthly clinic on EIA Assessment and Review with the Environment and Conservation Division of MOECAF. It is a great learning environment as the new EIA Procedures are about to enter into force. I also gave a presentation on Day 1 on a Regional Analysis of EIA Laws within the region. The after session included an overview on Public Participation in EIA in Myanmar and an examination of some of the potential issues that ECD will have to address once the EIA Procedures are approved. IMG_0548

National Consultation Workshop on draft EIA Law, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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The Second National Consultation Workshop on the draft Law on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was opened by H.E Dr. Say Samal, Minister of Environment, on Tuesday 17 March in Phnom Penh.

H.E the Minister said: “The new Environmental Impact Assessment Law marks an important shift to more transparent and accountable environmental management. With the new Law, we will be able to ensure that all future development complies with the government’s nature conservation and environmental protection standards. This Law will be the centrepiece of environmental management for many years to come.”

The new EIA Law will mandate the conduct of a comprehensive and transparent EIA for all types of development projects, including dams, large plantations and urban construction projects. The draft EIA Law provides provisions for access to information and public participation. These will provide “communities and other affected persons unprecedented rights to be informed and participate” in the planning and assessment of development projects.

The draft EIA Law also provides innovative and best practice provisions on climate change, transboundary impacts, and strategic environmental assessment.

Comments and questions are being sought on the draft EIA for consideration and assessment by the EIA Working group with includes the Ministry of Environment, Vishnu Law Group and EIA expert Prof Richard Frankel and Matthew Baird, Environmental Counsel.

The draft EIA Law has been under development since 2011, in a collaborative process between the Ministry of Environment and Vishnu Law Group. To date there have been six consultation workshops throughout Cambodia with hundreds of submissions received over the process.

Ms. Sao Kagna, Manager of Vishnu Law Group, said: “Vishnu has been very pleased to collaborate with the Ministry to create this Law. Stakeholders from all over the country have been very enthusiastic about the very transparent and inclusive way that this Law was created.”

View of the Bagan Plains.

View of Bagan, Myanmar

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Formal Launch of the Asian Judges Network on Environment

President Takehiko Nakao opens the Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment at the Asian Development Bank headquarters, Dec. 3, 2013. (Photo courtesy ADB)

MANILA, Philippines, December 12, 2013 (ENS) – An Asian Judges Network on Environment has been formally launched in Manila, marking a new stage of cooperation among justices charged with enforcing environmental laws and helping to preserve Asia’s natural capital.

The three-day Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment held last week drew eminent judges and representatives of courts, environment ministries, prosecutor’s offices, the legal profession, and civil society from the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

The Asian Development Bank hosted the event in partnership with the Supreme Court of Philippines, with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in attendance.

Other partners included the United Nations Environment Program, World Wildlife Fund, United States Agency for International Development, and the Freeland Foundation.

Bank President Takehiko Nakao told symposium participants, “ADB strongly supports the Network because we understand the critical role that Chief Justices and their senior judiciary play in improving environmental enforcement and strengthening the rule of law. This role includes making environmental decisions, developing environmental jurisprudence, and establishing environmental courts. It also includes championing and leading the rest of the legal profession, the law enforcement community, and broader public, toward credible rule of law systems that have integrity and promote environmental justice.”

Nakao said he is encouraged by recent developments to strengthen environmental law enforcement across Asia. “The Chief Justice of Indonesia announced his decree to certify specialist environmental judges and ensure they decide environmental cases,” he said.

“The Chief Justices of Pakistan and Malaysia have established environmental courts and judicial environmental training,” he said. “And the Chief Justices of Vietnam and Sri Lanka have committed to carry the torch forward in terms of the regional vision and national commitments into 2014,” Nakao told the symposium.

Responding to requests from across the region, the bank has established an on-line interface for all Asian Judiciaries to communicate landmark environmental judgments. The site contains the region’s environmental laws and Nakao said it will help “maintain a sense of community between face-to-face meetings.”

The bank has also supported delegations of Asian justices to join globally significant environmental events, including the Rio Conference, the Convention on Biodiversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species,” said Nakao.

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