By Mekong Partnership for the Environment
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 9, 2016
Key stakeholders related to EIA in Cambodia provided feedback on Cambodia’s draft national guidelines on public participation in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process during the country’s first national public consultation workshop on 19 July 2016 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, organized by the Ministry of Environment with the Vishnu Law Group and funded by the Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE). Over 170 participants, including representatives from government, affected communities, private sector, academia, NGOs, EIA experts and international and regional observers participated in the workshop and the majority strongly suggested that all development projects need to undergo EIA processes before any construction or operation begins. In particular, participants emphasized during discussions and through written comments that the EIA process must include proper conflict resolution processes and projects must obtain the consent of affected people. The development of Cambodia’s guidelines on public participation in EIA stiches together efforts at the regional level led by the Regional Technical Working Group on EIA, also supported by MPE.
Emphasizing that EIA is a necessary mechanism for conflict avoidance, livelihoods improvement and better environmental quality, HE. Tea Chub, Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment, opened the workshop. Ms. Sao Kagna, Manager of Vishnu Law Group explained the importance of the National Guideline on Public Participation in EIA and Ms. Andrea Stone, Environment Officer, USAID Cambodia, stated that Cambodia’s economic growth and sustainable development requires proper planning and vigorous public participation in the EIA process to support decision-making.
Members of the national working group provided a series of presentations on the guidelines for public participation in EIA. Following that, participants broke into small groups to discuss each chapter of the draft guideline. To facilitate a robust discussion, the groups were mixed, comprised of representatives from regional observer groups (including the international organizations), governmental agencies, provincial environmental department, communities, NGOs, and the public.
Participants provided feedback and suggestions for improving both the format and content of the guidelines via written comments both during and prior to the workshop, and through small group pre-meetings with Development and Partnership in Action (DPA) and the NGO Forum on Cambodia. The workshop provides a further example of constructive, multi-stakeholder dialogue in the region on the common agenda of more effective EIA process. Comments and inputs received in this first public consultation will be discussed and considered for revision of the draft national guidelines on public participation in EIA. To strengthen public participation in the process of finalizing the guidelines, the second public consultation workshop will be held in November 2016.
This is an outreach announcement from the USAID-funded Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE), a key supporter of The Mekong Eye.
Lead photo: The participants worked in groups to review the draft national guidelines on public participation in EIA, Credit: Vishnu Law Group