Phnom Penh, March 18, 2015: More than 90 CSOs/NGOs members, Development Partners, Academics, NGOs/CSOs and Affected Communities participated in Draft EIA Law Pre-Consultation Workshop at the Phnom Penh Ecumenical Diakonia Centre (PPEDC) in order to incorporate the latest ideas within last draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) law.
The workshop aimed to review the previous CSOs comments which were incorporated, collect further inputs and recommendations to improve the quality of the draft EIA. This fifth pre-consultation workshop was coordinated by the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) together with The NGO Environment and Climate Change Alliance (NECA), the Network for Development of Food Security and Safety in Cambodia (NDF-C), River Coalition in Cambodia (RCC), Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), Indigenous People and Forest Network (IPFN), LAHRIN and other CBOs/NGOs.
During the opening, Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director NGOF, mentioned that we should consider six points for discussion in this consultation. Those points are:
- Inclusion of Free and Prior Inform Conscience (FPIC) principle as it is understood in the international legal sphere, which means the right of Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold consent to the development activities, not only consent to mitigation measures proposed to them
- Identify the clear role of the commune council for following up and monitoring on the EIA report
- The investment companies should provide the fund to Ministry of Environment (MoE) or independent institutions to seek for the independence and quality company or consultant to conduct the EIA report
- The quality of the EIA report should be strengthen through open discussion and comments from stakeholders
- The community representatives should be allowed in the seating for commenting on EIA report and
- Enough time should be provided for the involvement of all stakeholders in EIA process especially comments on final draft of EIA report
The consolidated comments and policy recommendations will officially submitted to H.E. Say Samal, Minister of Ministry of Environment, legal working group of MoE and Vishnu law Group, and Australian technical advisor during the Second National Consultation Workshop conducting on 17-18 March 2015 at Cambodiana Hotel, Phnom Penh.
“Some companies have no standards on resettlement and compensation, and we hope this law will push investors to be more transparent on the impact of their operations to the ecosystem. The gap of imbalance over conservation and development is still large, especially with joint-ventures between local and international investors, which mostly focus on natural resources.” Dr. Tek Vannara said.
The Ministry of Environment is close to finalizing a draft EIA law for development projects, but NGOs and civil society groups raised concerns that the draft law, as it stands, prevents indigenous people who live on the land from opposing such projects.
Since 2011, the new law on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was developed by Vishnu Law Group working with the Cambodian Ministry of Environment. The draft Law sets forth new procedures for obtaining EIA approvals for both new and existing operations, and contains up to date provisions on topics ranging from access to information, climate change mitigation, social impact, monitoring and enforcement.
Since November 2012, NGO Forum and its CSOs/NGOs members and networks have conducted numerous meetings to spread understanding about the draft Law and collect the comments from all stakeholders at both national and sub national consultation workshops. Through this process, we have received numerous comments and submitted them to Vishnu Law Group and the Ministry. Our recommendations have been carefully considered and incorporated in the ongoing refinement of the draft Law.