Islamabad, November 3rd, 2010 (IUCN) – Government of Pakistan, in collaboration with IUCN Pakistan, organized a workshop to discuss the awareness raising strategy of the National Impact Assessment Programme (NIAP). NIAP is a four and a half year programme and its main aim is to strengthen the decision-aiding tool like Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and introduce a planning tool Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA).
The workshop was instrumental in seeking feedback from the stakeholders on the Awareness Raising Strategy. The strategy aims at improving the understanding of the government, civil society, media, lawmakers and the academia on EIA and SEA mainly to develop a consolidated approach to popularise the concept of smart planning and development in Pakistan.
In his welcome remarks Dr. Aurangzeb Khan, Chief of the Environment Section of Planning Commission and the National Project Director of NIAP talked about streamlining and legalising SEA and EIA. He stressed on the importance of learning from the planning and development experiences of the other countries in the region and incorporating the Awareness Raising Strategy in mainstreaming this access.
Chief Guest, Mr. Asif Shuja Khan, Director General Pak EPA stressing on the importance of the target group said “The focus should be on the senior decision-makers first who are directly involved with planning and then the technicians and consultants.” He also discussed the role of the Government bodies and talked about not limiting it to the technical environment committee and bringing in other related ministries like the Petroleum, and Water and Power. His message was mainly to focus on those committees, ministries and departments whose actions have a direct impact on the environment.
The environment experts discussed whether SEA should be made a legal requirement like EIA and how the corporate sector and the government agencies can be targeted with powerful case studies of a development tool like SEA. It was brought to the participants’ attention that these tools would be instrumental in the development and rehabilitation efforts post flood. “Pakistan is presenting its development plan to the donors’ forum and this should be taken as an opportunity to incorporate SEA into this plan” remarked the experts.
In order to get people from all walks of life on board, the participants proposed developing a Knowledge Hub by launching the NIAP Website, inviting Law Makers for smart planning, increasing knowledge about energy effectiveness in the academia by initiating a large scale discipleship. They also proposed Environmental Fellowship for young journalists and Environmental Journalist of the Year Award.