The training on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted recently on 21st January by IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature should set a clearer scene for stakeholders and members of the Nadi Basin Catchment Committee (NBCC) in Fiji in shaping their plans to develop a strategy to reduce flood risks for the Nadi area.
The one-day workshop was a capacity-building exercise for NBCC members to improve their understanding of EIA processes under the Fiji Environment Management Act (2005) and Regulations - Fiji’s national legislation governing the processes and requirements of EIA’s - and how it applies to development activities that are currently being undertaken within the Nadi Basin Catchment area. The workshop was attended by core members of the NBCC, including relevant government and non-government agencies; private sector bodies; provincial and district officers.
“EIA processes need to be understood by all stakeholders involved in the decision making process,” says Dr. Milika Sobey, IUCN’s Water Programme Coordinator.
The workshop intended to raise participants’ understanding of the reason for undertaking an EIA, the EIA processes under the law and the importance of public participation in the EIA process.
Presenting at the workshop, IUCN’s Environmental Legal Mentor – Ms Christine Trenorden stressed the crucial role of EIA’s in development proposals. “Since the enactment of the Environment Management Act, no developer whether government or non-government is exempted from it, it is required by law”
Acknowledging the significance of EIA’s in development projects in the country, Pacific GEF IWRM (Integrated Water and Resources Management) Project Manager Mr Vinesh Kumar said “despite EIA surveys being undertaken, it is clear many developers are still not aware of its importance. This workshop has really placed the IWRM Project into perspective on the importance of EIAs. Developers intending to develop parts of the Nadi Basin should strongly consider whether an EIA is required”.
This training on EIA is another learning curve for the NBCC and its stakeholders, also providing some clarity and direction in shaping the development of the Flood Risk Management Plan (FRMP), which the NBCC is tasked to provide. The FRMP once in place should help to reduce the risk of flooding in Nadi.
The Nadi River basin has experienced severe flooding in the past years, affecting infrastructure; livestock; natural resources as well as people’s homes and livelihoods. IUCN’s Regional Office for Oceania has been working very closely with the NBCC, as well as SOPAC (Pacific Islands Applied GeoScience Commission), through its Water and Nature Initiave project which focuses on good governance, payments of ecosystem services and learning and leadership. This project also complements the Pacific GEF IWRM Project, currently being executed by SOPAC.
The workshop ended on a good note, with participants acknowledging the significance of the issues raised and discussed.