Islamabad, October 26, 2010 (IUCN) – IUCN Pakistan in collaboration with Government of Pakistan, is implementing the National Impact Assessment Programme (NIAP). NIAP aims at contributing to sustainable development in Pakistan through strengthening the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and introducing Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) in the national development planning.
One of the key components of NIAP is to strengthen EIA process in the country. To decide on the priorities for EIA strengthening, a series of EIA mapping workshops were undertaken at Islamabad and all the provincial capitals including AJ&K and Gilgit-Baltistan earlier this year.
A workshop titled “EIA Mapping Analysis Workshop” was organized by IUCN Pakistan in Islamabad, the views of stakeholders and results of EIA Mapping exercises conducted were presented in this workshop. The combined mapping results were presented by Dr. Bobbi Schijf of Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA), while discussions were facilitated by Mr. Ahmad Saeed of IUCN Pakistan.
EIA was introduced as a requirement in Pakistan under Pakistan Environmental Protection Ordinance (PEPO) 1983. Later PEPO was replaced by Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 (PEPA’97), which further strengthened EIA as a legal requirement and also introduced IEE / EIA Review Rules 2000.
EIA mapping is a tool that maps the strengths and weaknesses of an EIA system with respect to how it is organized formally as well its implementation in practice. The EIA mapping results can help to focus EIA strengthening efforts. In addition, an EIA map provides a useful reference for monitoring and evaluation purposes. EIA Mapping Tool has been developed by NCEA over a period of three years. It is adapted into local context to take the snapshots of the existing EIA system covering its legal and implementation dimensions.
In his welcome remarks Dr. Aurangzeb Khan, Chief of the Environment Section of Planning Commission who is also the National Project Director of NIAP talked about environmental degradation in Pakistan. He said that the Planning Commission of Pakistan has been successful in promoting the significance of environment with the policy makers, however, the main issue is implementation of the environmental laws.
Mr. Asif Shuja Khan, Director General Pakistan Environment Protection Agency said that EIA has come a long way in Pakistan. “As far as Environment Protection Agencies are concerned, EIA can be regarded as a success story. However we envisage further maturity in EIA processes”,.He also said that our people are doing an impressive work despite many challenges. He appreciated the role of the Planning Commission of Pakistan in promoting EIA and sustainable development in Pakistan.
Mr. Saqib Aleem, Joint Secretary (Planning & Development Wing) Ministry of Environment mentioned in his remarks said that, assessment of the effectiveness of EIA process in the country would be gauged through NIAP. He stressed on the need to create awareness about the concept of EIA in Pakistan.
Dr. Bobbi Schijf, Technical Secretary of NCEA said that her organization is pleased to work in Pakistan to improve EIA process for sustainable development.
Chief Guest, Mr. Ghulam Mohayuddin Marri, Member (Infrastructure) of Planning Commission of Pakistan appreciated the efforts of IUCN Pakistan in promoting the sustainable use of natural resources. He said that Government of Pakistan is serious in addressing the issue of environment and has placed it on top of its priority list. He also ensured his long term support for this project on the behalf of the Government.