Mekong nations set up group for environmental impact assessments
May 15 2015
BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) -- Officials and civil society representatives from across the Mekong region have agreed to establish a working group to develop a regional public participation guideline for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) this week in Hanoi, Vietnam. In a statement released Thursday, the Mekong Regional Technical Working Group for EIA brings together governments, civil society organisations (CSOs), and will expand to cover private sector and EIA experts to improve regional cooperation for effective EIA policy and practices. The group aims to reduce the social and...
Mekong Governments, Civil Society Reach Agreement on Environmental Impact Assessment Agenda
May 14 2015
HANOI, May 14, 2015 – In a ground-breaking agreement, government officials and civil society representatives from across the Mekong region established a working group to develop a regional public participation guideline for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) this week in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Mekong Regional Technical Working Group for EIA brings together governments, civil society organizations (CSOs), and will expand to cover private sector and EIA experts to improve regional cooperation for effective EIA policy and practices. The group aims to reduce the social and environmental impacts...
Mekong nations to set up EIA working group
May 14 2015
In the statement released today, the Mekong Regional Technical Working Group for EIA brings together governments, civil society organisations (CSOs), and will expand to cover private sector and EIA experts to improve regional cooperation for effective EIA policy and practices. The group aims to reduce the social and environmental impacts of regional infrastructure projects, particularly as the upcoming Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) Economic Community further hastens trans-boundary investments. "This could set an excellent platform and process helping to increase cooperation and...
Mapping the global battle to protect our planet
Mar 5 2015
In 2012 protests erupted in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina over the demolition of a much beloved local park to build a business complex. A movement under the slogan “This Park is Ours” aimed originally at protecting the green space soon broadened into a collective movement aimed against corruption, lack of transparency, economic inequality and dwindling social services. Hundreds of protesters from all social classes and religions gathered daily in the endangered park, becoming part of a Bosnian spring that came to represent a struggle for human dignity and accountability under most...
Government and civil society support strong Environmental Impact Assessments
Dec 4 2014
Government and civil society representatives highlighted the need for strong and inclusive environmental impact assessment (EIA) policies and practices in the Mekong region at a meeting this week in Bangkok, Thailand. Organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) -supported Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE) project and the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN), the December 1-3 event, “Environmental Impact Assessment Policy and Practice in the Mekong Region: Safeguarding Sustainable Development,” brought together more than 50...
AECEN urges ADB to adopt south-south cooperation as preferred capacity building mode
Oct 14 2014
Manila, Philippines – Adopt south-south cooperation as the preferred mode for capacity building and support organizations like the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) to act as intermediaries, said Dr. Peter King, Head of the AECEN Secretariat, to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Speaking to public and private sector officials and representatives from international financial institutions and civil society at an ADB workshop held last week, he highlighted how AECEN has strengthened government capacities on compliance and enforcement, using South-South cooperation (...
Stronger leadership and more stringent legal enforcement cited as ways to improve Thailand’s environmental governance
Oct 14 2014
Bangkok, Thailand – Stronger leadership in Thailand’s environmental administration and more stringent enforcement of green regulations are among recommendations to improving the country’s environmental governance. Addressing officials from Thailand’s Ministry of National Resources and Environment’s (MoNRE) Department of Environmental Quality Promotion (DEQP), Dr. Peter King, Head of the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) Secretariat shared ways to improve Thailand’s environmental governance in his keynote address “Good Governance for Better Environment.” In his...
AECEN Strengthens EIA Compliance in Asia: INECE
Apr 25 2014
Minimizing adverse environmental impacts of economic development accompanied by rapid urbanization and industrial growth remains a significant compliance and enforcement challenge for Asia. While many governments have developed legal and institutional frameworks for environmental and social safeguards, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations remains weak due in large part to technical, financial, and human capacity limitations. In the region, effective compliance with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements has been consistently identified as a priority...
Greening Governance in Asia-Pacific
Aug 6 2012
Once every two years, IGES releases a white paper focusing on key policy agendas in the Asia-Pacific region. The Fourth IGES White Paper, entitled "Greening Governance in Asia-Pacific" examines innovative approaches to governance and institutions that have emerged from the region and recommends governance arrangements and policy solutions to accelerate the transition to a green economy, and argues that, without significant governance reform in Asia-Pacific, global sustainable development will remain an under-implemented ideal rather than a new reality. For the paper and more information: http...
AECEN support Indonesia efforts to prepare new guidelines on public participation and the environment
Jul 20 2012
On July 10-11, 2012, the Indonesia Ministry of Environment (MOE) conducted a workshop on Strengthening Public Participation on Environmental Management in Indonesia. Co-organized with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), about 100 participants from government agencies, NGOs, academia and the private sector shared ideas on the Public Participation Guide developed by USEPA and the application of public participation principles in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. In addition to technical input from USEPA, resource persons from Malaysia, Thailand and the...
Haze in South rises beyond safety mark
Oct 5 2015
Songkhla governor Songpol Sawasditham Monday called an urgent meeting of agencies to combat the Indonesian forest fire smog in the southern province, which reportedly saw tiny dust particles rising to 173 micrograms per cubic metre - well above safety levels.
While many southern provinces' air quality readings were within the maximum safety standard of 120 micrograms, local authorities were on alert and monitoring the situation closely.
Besides Songkhla's 173 micrograms, the environment office 16 in Songkhla yesterday morning reported other provinces' PM-10 particulate matter levels as: Surat Thani 52 micrograms, Phuket 53 micrograms, Yala 141 micrograms, Narathiwat 92...
EPA Releases Final Clean Water Act Electronic Reporting Rule
Oct 5 2015
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week finalized its rule to "modernize" Clean Water Act (CWA) regulatory reporting requirements for municipalities, industries, and other facilities.
According to the Agency's news release the final rule will require regulated entities and state and federal regulators to "use existing, available information technology to electronically report data required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program instead of filing written paper reports." EPA suggests that once the rule is fully implemented, the 46 states and other U.S. territories that are authorized to administer the NPDES program will collectively save...
3 hotels in Bhubaneswar face closure over pollution norms
Oct 5 2015
BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) will seal three big hotels here for violating pollution control norms. The hotels have been running without the OSPCB's mandatory consent. On Monday, it served closure notices on the hotels.
Pollution board sources revealed that since their opening, the hotels have never applied for 'consent to establish' and 'consent to operate' although the board has sent several reminders to them. The hotels also allegedly ignored two show causes notices slapped on them for not applying for the mandatory consent.
OSPCB regional officer (Bhubaneswar) Hadibandhu Panigrahi said Urmi hotel at Rasulgarh square, Hotel Keshari at...
Air pollution from coal-fired power plants kills thousands
Oct 2 2015
HA NOI (VNS) — Air pollution from Vietnamese coal-fired power plants killed 4,300 people in 2011, and plants aren't reducing emissions any time soon, according to a recent Harvard University study.
Harvard announced findings from its new study on rising coal emissions' health effects in Southeast Asia during a conference held on Tuesday in Ha Noi titled Coal and Coal-fired Power Plants: the Unknowns. The Green Innovation and Development Centre (Green ID) organised the event.
"If new coal plant projects under development come into operation, premature deaths could rise to 25,000 per year," said Tran Dinh Sinh, the vice director of GreenID.
Deaths from coal pollution...
Indonesia sends force of nearly 21,000 to fight forest fires as haze continues to choke region
Sep 29 2015
Heavy smoke from "slash-and-burn" clearances often comes from the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, where palm oil companies have large forest concessions.
Indonesian efforts to halt the seasonal clearances have failed.
This season's haze has blanketed the region in a choking haze for weeks, pushing up pollution levels and disrupting flights, as it does every year.
More than 135,000 Indonesians were reported to be suffering from respiratory diseases, Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said.
The acting governor of Riau province on Sumatra Island, Arsyadjuliandi Rachman, said a state of emergency would be extended for two weeks...
Smoke Blankets Indonesia
Sep 28 2015
Fires in Indonesia are not like most other fires. They are extremely difficult to extinguish. They smolder under the surface for long periods, often for months. Usually, firefighters can only put them out with the help of downpours during the rainy season. And they release far more smoke and air pollution than most other types of fires.
The root cause is large deposits of peat—a soil-like mixture of partly decayed plant material formed in wetlands—lining the coasts of Borneo and Sumatra. Peat fires start to burn in Indonesia every year because farmers engage in “slash and burn agriculture,” a technique that involves frequent burning of rainforest to clear the way for crops or...
Ministers hint at possible rethink of environmental 'lawfare' crackdown
Sep 27 2015
Senior members of the federal government have indicated that a review of proposed laws that would restrict environmental groups’ ability to challenge development projects could be on the cards, in the leadup to a Senate inquiry issuing its findings on the controversial bill.
Analysis Coalition MPs on 'green lawfare': mung bean soup to treasonous sabotage
Australian politicians are going to considerable trouble explaining why the Abbott government has to limit environmental groups’ legal rights
Last month the attorney general, George Brandis, proposed repealing section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act after the federal...
Illegal land clearing: Indonesia orders four firms to stop work
Sep 23 2015
Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry has suspended the operations of three plantation companies and revoked the business licence of a fourth over illegal land- clearing practices, which have led to forest fires and haze in recent weeks.
South Sumatra-based palm oil companies Tempirai Palm Resources and Waringin Agro Jaya, as well as Riau's Langgam Inti Hibrindo were ordered to cease operations on September 21, while Hutani Sola Lestari, a wood pulp firm, also based in Riau, had its licence revoked.
The announcement on September 22 - regarded as a significant, albeit belated, step towards combating the haze crisis - came on a day when the Pollutant Standards Index (...
Fugitive Philippine politicians nabbed in Phuket
Sep 21 2015
Crime Suppression Division commander Pol Maj Gen Akradej Pimolsri said Monday that Joel Reyes, 63, former governor of Palawan province, and his brother, Mario Reyes, 54, a former municipal mayor in the same western province, were apprehended Sunday following a tip from Interpol.
The two had been living in Phuket for three years.
The CSD commander said the two brothers, who ran an ore-mining business, are charged with the 2011 murder of Gerry Ortega, an anti-corruption crusader who opposed their mining operations. He also hosted a radio show on which he frequently accused the suspects of massive graft.
The Reyes brothers slipped out of the Philippines sometime in...
Poor water management hits Delta
Sep 14 2015
HCM CITY (VNS) — Viet Nam's Mekong Delta, which is home to 18 million people, has suffered adverse consequences due to poor water resource management, a researcher at a Can Tho University think tank has said.
Ly Quoc Dang of the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute said his studies on water use in three hamlets in Soc Trang Province's coastal Tran De District found water conflicts occurring between farmers there.
"Shrimp farms are near rice fields, and so water is pumped from the river to breed shrimps and then is discharged into the rice fields, killing the crop."
The province sought to be a major rice-growing area, he said to explain how this could easily...
Cambodian FM urges Laos to further study impacts of hydropower dam
Oct 6 2015
PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Tuesday called on Laos to conduct further studies on the environmental impacts of a proposed 260-megawatt hydropower dam. The Lao National Assembly approved the concession agreement for the controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam on the lower Mekong River in August and expected to begin construction before the year end. Speaking at a meeting with Somsavat Lengsavad, visiting Lao Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, Hor Namhong said the dam is located only 2 km upstream from Cambodia's border. He said Cambodia and...
Pingtung biotech park’s expansion passes EIA test
Oct 5 2015
The Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park’s expansion project yesterday passed its environmental impact assessment (EIA) review, paving the way for the introduction of more businesses, including animal-use vaccine manufacturers and biofuel companies. The 223-hectare park in the county’s Changjhih Township (長治) started operating in 2006 and currently houses 96 companies. As the park is nearing capacity, its manager, the Council of Agriculture, has proposed utilizing a 165-hectare plot of land northeast of the park for expansion. During a previous EIA review, the committee expressed concern...
Bill opens door to graft
Oct 1 2015
Academics and environmentalists have voiced concerns about the threats posed to forest reserves and wildlife sanctuaries by the proposed legislation which was endorsed by the cabinet and is now being scrutinised by the Council of State. Seub Nakhasathien Foundation chairman Sasin Chalermlarp warned that pristine rain catchment forests could be opened up for ore mining operations if the areas are found to have a high potential for mineral deposits. Simple consent from the minister of natural resources and environment is enough to start mineral ore prospecting. The threat to our depleting...
New economic freedoms rouse Myanmar's sleeping giant
Sep 29 2015
They were jubilant that, at last, the nation has its first international-standard SEZ, equipped with all the infrastructure a major business needs - electricity, water supply and port facilities. The project is a joint endeavour, and much of the credit must go to the three Japanese business groups involved - Sumitomo, Marubeni and Mitsubishi. The first phase has attracted 44 foreign companies. Among them is Millcon Steel, whose chief executive Sithichai Leesawaditrakul joined a recent Bangkok conference to share his experience of setting up a steel plant in Thilawa. He made the decision...
Arunachal hydropower project up for forest clearance
Sep 29 2015
New Delhi: An environment ministry panel has given the go-ahead for the 780 megawatt (MW) Nyamjang Chu hydropower project in the Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh to be taken up for forest clearance, despite it posing a threat to one of two wintering sites of the black-necked crane in India. The decision by the expert appraisal committee (EAC) for river valley and hydroelectric projects comes despite a letter from the ministry’s regional office in Shillong, written in August 2014, revealing illegal felling of trees in Tawang by NJC Hydro Power Ltd, the company behind the project. The...
Future of Krabi's power plant unclear
Sep 27 2015
The debate over the planned construction of a 800-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the tourist province of Krabi reveals the dilemma over Thailand’s energy policy direction. Despite activists’ protests against the construction of the coal-fired power plant due to environmental concerns, it is undeniable that the southern tourist provinces need an additional source of power to cater to rising demand. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) has long planned the construction of the power plant. The bidding for its construction has already been carried out. But some activist...
The Lower Sesan 2 in Cambodia: Local communities ask, “Who will benefit?”
Sep 26 2015
The Royal Government of Cambodia claims hydropower is the cheapest source of electricity to satisfy the demands for modern living. But there is nothing “cheap” about hydropower projects in Cambodia. Hydropower has come at enormous costs such as disrupting the lives and livelihoods of rural often marginalized communities and destroying fisheries and natural ecosystems. I once interviewed a teenage boy in a village located in Serey Mongkol commune, Kon Morm district, Ratanakiri province. His village was located along the Sesan River, an important tributary of the Mekong River that begins in...
A special zone on Myanmar's border
Sep 26 2015
DAWEI (Myanmar) It has been eight long years since engineer Suphap Satthathum first set foot in the tropical scrub jungle by the immense curve of beach near the port town of Dawei, in Myanmar's southernmost Tanintharyi state that borders Thailand. But today, as he strides on the jetty his construction company has built, he finds new energy as he shows visitors around the 27 sq km first phase of the Dawei Special Economic Zone (DSEZ). Despite false starts and continuing scepticism, the ambitious development to transform this sleepy, isolated patch of the Andaman Coast into one of Asia's...
Cambodian Official Urges Provincial Government to Shutter Illegal Gold Mine
Sep 23 2015
A top mining official on Wednesday urged the government of northeastern Cambodia’s Ratanakiri province to crack down on a group of Vietnamese running an illegal gold mining operation villagers and rights groups say is being protected by local authorities. A group of officials from the Ratanakiri Mines and Energy Department investigated the camp in Lumphat district Tuesday on a tip from villagers who said 10 Vietnamese nationals had set up shelters and were digging in the area after purchasing local land, according to department director Hun Bunthan. But while the officials determined that the...
Myanmar’s mining investment and its discontents
Sep 23 2015
Following five decades of rule by socialist and military governments, under which the country became one of the least developed countries in the world, a new chapter of Myanmar’s engagement with the international community was opened in March 2011. While the previous regime denied that poverty existed in Myanmar, the new government acknowledged the problem and made addressing it a key economic policy priority. A range of political, economic and social reforms under President U Thein Sein’s administration prioritised rapid legal transformation across sectors to make Myanmar a considerably more...