DOMINICA’S CLIMATE CHANGE, ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT BILL 2020.
Global Environment Facility (GEF)/ United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/ Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
In 2012, de Romilly & de Romilly Limited was retained after Cabinet approved the drafting of comprehensive Environment and Natural Resource Management Legislation in line with recommendations from the National Consultative Workshop and the earlier legislative reviews. Over the course of several years, with funding provided through a number of projects supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Dominica’s Climate Change, Environment and Natural Resources Management Bill was developed and drafted through a broad-based stakeholder consultative process.
The new legislation gives effect to recommendations arising from a number of legislative reviews that have been undertaken over a 15 year period which all came to the conclusion that comprehensive environmental and natural resource management legislation is an urgent priority in order to prevent irreversible environmental damage to the natural resources upon which Dominica relies for sustained economic and social development. Key findings from these reviews include:
1. In Dominica over 105 pieces of legislation are used to manage differing aspects of the environment and are managed by many different ministries, statutory bodies or other agencies. There is currently no overarching environmental legislation or single administrative body to oversee environmental matters. This is problematic for the various departments which deal with environmental use and management matters, as well as those involved in the enforcement of environmental laws.
2. Most of the laws are old and ineffective in a modern environmental management context or suffer from a lack of enforcement through inadequate staffing, lack of technical resources and funding, or through administrative failures.
3. A number of ‘draft’ Environment Acts have been developed in recent years but have not been enacted.
4 The existing legislation is outdated - many of the Acts pre-date the signing of international environmental agreements by Dominica that enshrine new and evolving environmental principles/concepts such as sustainable use and the greater appreciation of the interconnectedness of environmental protection with other facets of development.
5. There is substantial gaps and overlap between existing legal mandates for natural resource management amongst various ministries with resultant confusion over jurisdiction roles – more particularly there is no legal basis to ensure
(a) functional co-ordination amongst various Departments/agencies to ensure sound and coordinated environmental protection and the sustainable management of finite resources for Dominica’s long term benefit;
(b) site specific co-ordination in the management of natural resources
6. Save for a few pieces of legislation, present legislation does not meet Dominica’s obligations under the 27 Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to which the country is a signatory – most notably the agreements dealing with Climate Change, Pollutants and Hazardous Substances, Biodiversity, Biosafety.
7. Dominica’s physical planning legislation deals largely with terrestrial resources leaving inadequate regulatory control over aquatic, coastal or marine resources.
8. There is no legally established institutional framework for coordinating environmental protection and natural resource management in Dominica.
9. There is no legislation to ensure environmentally sound and sustainable management of natural resources outside forestry and parks areas.
10. There is no legislation for the management of marine pollution, biosafety or hazardous substances.
11. There is no legislation to control Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions or promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.
12. Consolidated Environmental and Natural Resource Management legislation is required as an urgent national priority which should address the following gaps and deficiencies:
(a) legislation is required to address pollution and hazardous substances, climate change, introduction of new technologies and to implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to which the country is a signatory;
(b) legal establishment of a department or agency is required to facilitate functional site-specific co-ordination for effective environmental protection and natural resource management;
(c) the establishment of effective and coordinated site-specific management of natural resources and environmental protection.
This Bill, which has been acclaimed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and other Caribbean countries as a transformational model law that should be adopted by other small island developing states (SIDS) to support the transition to a low carbon climate resilient development path and Green Economy, will establish, for the first time in Dominica and the region, a comprehensive legal and institutional framework to address the threats and causes of climate change. Key provisions of the proposed Bill include:
establishment of the Climate Change and Environment Trust Fund into which international climate change funds can be deposited for use on approved climate change projects;
establishment of the Council on Environment, Climate Change, and Development which will, amongst other matters, be responsible for coordinating the mainstreaming of climate change into national/sector/community planning and programs as required under the provisions of Article 4 of the UNFCCC;
formulation and regular review/updating of Policies for Sustainable Development and Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development as required under Article 4 of the UNFCCC and other multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs) to which Dominica is a signatory;
establishment of the Department of Climate Change, Environment and Conservation, which will, amongst other matters, be responsible for implementing the national climate change program and coordinating the implementation of multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs) to which Dominica is a signatory;
establishment of the National Climate Change Committee (reporting to the Council on Environment, Climate Change, and Development) which will be responsible for ensuring inter-agency coordination in the implementation of climate change and related environmental management programs;
establishment of the legal and institutional framework (including monitoring, reporting and verification structure) to implement the UNFCCC and other multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs) to which Dominica is a signatory, which combined all have an important role in managing risks from climate change, regulating greenhouse gas emissions/sinks, and enhancing resilience to climate change at the national, sector, ecosystem and community levels while establishing the foundations for the transition to a Green Economy.
“The ….. Project took an innovative approach to true transformational change; it has been utilised as a tool to develop the long overdue and much needed consolidated legislation for sustainable management of all natural resources; the process is new, innovative and truly participatory: a draft Climate Change, Environment and Natural Resources Management Bill has been prepared through broad-based consultations and it is currently being presented for public review before going to Parliament. Once approved, a harmonious legislative body for integrated natural resources management instead of many scattered and overlapping laws will ease management and the work of sectoral agencies. Impact will not be limited to the country; it will be the most advanced piece of legislation in the sector in the Caribbean and may result in a model for other small islands states.” GEF Project Terminal Evaluation at page 7 (download here )