The minister of Environment, Pa Ousman Jarju has stated that the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) policy is a direct mean for achieving Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs 13, 14 and 15] as in line with the national development blueprint strategies and sector policies. He said it will specifically help to strengthen the screening process of our development plans, projects and their implementation processing.
Minister Jarju was speaking this week during a day-long National SEA Policy Guideline and Procedures [2017-2021], review and validation workshop held in Bijilo.
The SEA policy is a tool for promoting sustainable development in the country. It is a systematic decision support process, aiming to ensure that environmental and possibly other sustainability are considered effectively in the policy, plan and programme making process.
Minister Jarju noted that The Gambia, like other countries in the region and continent, is bearing the burden of climate change impacts, with associated socio-economic losses. He said certain phenomena continue to drive environmental and natural resource degradation; human population growth, coupled with the decline in annual average rainfall of 25-30 percent, high consumption rates, and the nature of the land and forest management technology used.
Minister Jarju further stated that the government has created and continues to create an enabling environment by a way of sound, responsive and legislative frameworks for the protection and preservation of the environment. “Vision 2020 and other sectoral policies such as The Gambia Environment Action plan phase II [GEAP II], the National Environment Management Act [NEMA 1994], the Environment Impact Assessment Regulations 2014 and policy measures are clear testimony of the government’s undiluted commitment to champion the course of environment and natural resources protection for the benefit of the current and future generations,” he affirmed.
Speaking on behalf of the acting executive director of the National Environment Agency, Mohammed Denton the Director of Finance at NEA stated that it is understandable that sound environment management is a cornerstone for a healthy population. He added that this is important particularly to the poor whose lives can be transformed by a genuine development, adding that good management of our environment and natural resources invariably can protect health, reduce vulnerability to natural disasters, improve livelihoods and productivity to the extreme poor. “Sound environment management can spur economic growth based on natural resources and enhance human wellbeing,” he added.
Denton said government is committed to the goal of sustainable development, therefore, decision makers at all levels must be able to take economic, social and environmental considerations into account in order to make informed decisions in support of sustainable development.
He said The Gambia has developed the SEA policy essentially to ensure that national and sectoral development policies, plans and programmes integrate environment and sustainable development issues. “The policy draws its strength from the national development plan [page II 2016-2020] which in turn falls within the ambit of the national vision 2020 framework.”
He further stated that since the implementation of The GEAP I began from 1993 to date, major achievements have been registered in the application of Environment Impact Assessment [EIA] as a planning tool at the project level. He said this has proven to be useful in the implementation of development projects, noting that the practice is gaining momentum.
by Amie Susso