Experts at a media seminar on Tuesday underlined the need for effective Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to mitigate environmental damages and losses to national kitty.
Hailing from Planning and Environmental Sectors, these experts also called upon the state departments, the project executors and above all the media to play their due role in implementation of EIA and promoting Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) culture.
Speaking as Chief Guest, Jawed Ali Khan, Director General, Environment Wing, Ministry of National Disaster Management, underlined the need for effective impact assessment and saying that EIA does not oppose development, but rather contributes to making it more sustainable.
He urged collective efforts by the government departments, civil society and media and recommended tools like EIA and SEA to protect environment and ensure sustainable development.
The seminar was organized under the National Impact Assessment Programme (NIAP) being jointly implemented by the Government of Pakistan and IUCN. The programme aims to contribute to sustainable development in Pakistan by strengthening Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and introducing Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Pakistan’s development planning process. NIAP has four partners namely: the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA); Environment Wing, Ministry of Environment; Environment Section, Planning Commission and IUCN Pakistan. Technical assistance to the programme is being provided by the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) while the project is being funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN).
Jan Willem Cools, First Secretary (Environment and Water) Development Section, EKN emphasized the role of media in raising awareness on the issues of EIA and SEA. Saying that media has to play a double role – the role of an overseer and to raise awareness. He envisaged a more positive and vibrant role of media in the future.
In the opening remarks Dr. Aurangzeb Khan, Chief Environment Section, Planning Commission of Pakistan/ National Project Director NIAP mentioned that too many challenges are facing the country for promoting EIA and SEA. He stressed on the need for focusing on EIA, improving its quality and effective application of SEA for sustainable development.
Dr. Parvaiz Naim pointed out that the lack of guidance in policies and called upon media to highlight these shortcomings.
Asif Shuja Khan, Director General, Pak-EPA highlighted the importance of EIA and saying that we must deal with environment as a national issue and educate our policy makers to ensure sustainable development.
During the interactive session, the experts responded to questions about SEA and EIA while underlining the collective efforts to address the environment related issues.
Former Minister of State for Environment, Malik Amin Aslam, Impact Assessment Expert, Dr. Parvaiz Naim and DG Pak-EPA, Asif Shuja Khan were among the panelists.
They had a common notion that role of media was imperative to educate people on the subjects of EIA and SEA which it plays as a overseer for proper execution of policies by the government departments and the private sector. All panelists agreed that devolution of the subject of environment has hampered certain initiatives due to lack of capacity at the provincial level.
“It was due to media’s efforts that now the executors prefer to get the EIA done first,” said Malik Amin Aslam and recommended that EIA and SEA should be the part of the initial project instead of doing it at the time of execution. He highlighted that if SEA had been done for CNG policy than we would not have been facing the present crisis.
Mahmood Akhter Cheema, Manager IUCN, Islamabad Programme thanked the participants and sought continued support of the media to better country’s environment and promote sustainable development. “Media can be an effective tool for a change and this change should be for better lives of our people.”
He also thanked the Planning Commission, Ministry of National Disaster Management and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for their support to the programme.
For more Information please contact:
Arfa Zaheer Azmat
Deputy Project Manager/ Advocacy Coordinator -NIAP
Islamabad Programme Office
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature
and Natural Resources- Pakistan
H. No 21, Street 88, Sector G- 6/ 3
Tel: +92 51 2271027- 34
Fax: +92 51 2271017