Principle 1: Agency mandates and powers

Preventive Air and Noise Pollution Programs in Small Communities: The Case of Palawan, Philippines

Date posted: 
Nov 19 2009

Various programs that aim to minimize air and noise pollution from the transport sector are being implemented. These programs are usually conducted in areas with large and dense population or areas where flow of traffic and people are heavy. The aim is to improve air quality via the application of command and control schemes or market based instruments in the transport sector. Interventions could also involve introduction of alternative technologies (e.g. electric buses) or arrangements (e.g. limitation on number of vehicles via coding schemes).

Responsible Party: 
Regulated Community
I. Objectives or Impact: 

Various programs that aim to minimize air and noise pollution from the transport sector are being implemented. These programs are usually conducted in areas with large and dense population or areas where flow of traffic and people are heavy. The aim is to improve air quality via the application of command and control schemes or market based instruments in the transport sector. Interventions could also involve introduction of alternative technologies (e.g. electric buses) or arrangements (e.g. limitation on number of vehicles via coding schemes). However, there are few cases which showcase the promotion of air and noise pollution minimization in small communities. The common argument is that in small areas, air and noise pollution are relatively minimal. This notion tends to look at policies on pollution as curative rather than preventive. Also, if unchecked, the pace of growth has a greater tendency to overtake policy on pollution and environment. Thus, it becomes equally relevant for small communities and rural areas to undertake policies that would prevent air and noise pollution. The case of Palawan showcases possible preventive interventions that can be put into place. It also makes a point that preventive interventions are effective and could even be less costly to undertake. The objective of the effort is to promote awareness on the need to undertake preventive policies on air and noise pollution in small cities or rural communities.

II. Description of the Good Practice (Outputs): 

The Asian Development Bank extended a technical assistance to Puerto Princesa, the city government of Palawan in the Philippines, for the identification of strategies that will reduce air and noise pollution from tricycles. The tricycles are targeted since this is the prime mode of transportation in the area. Also, if unchecked in terms of the number of vehicles, this sector can be a potential source of air and noise pollution in the city. The activities of the assistance involved the following components: (1) improving tricycle emissions by strengthening the operators’ and members’ technical and managerial knowledge base, (2) establishment of a fund that will be used for possible purchases of cleaner technologies by operators, and (3) enhancing the city government’s capacity in enforcing the Clean Air Act (e.g. roadside emission monitoring). A crucial activity undertaken by the project is soliciting the support of the stakeholders via consultations during the project’s implementation phase. In particular, a micro-finance institution is tapped to administer and manage the operators’ and drivers’ multi-purpose fund.

III. Outcomes or Results: 

Interestingly, the project’s strength is increasing the know-how of those who actually operate and use the tricycles. From the point of view of operators, there is an incentive for this since it ultimately affects their day-to-day earnings. Through demonstration and training, drivers were taught how to give proper preventive maintenance or basic clean-up of tricycles. For the initial training, a total of 161 tricycle drivers benefited. Currently, other associations are requesting the same demonstration training. With regard to the air quality management training, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) was engaged to provide training on the handling, operating, and maintenance of the air samplers. The PNRI also oversaw the training on the collection of air samples and analysis of the collected samples for the presence and concentration of particulate matters. On roadside emission monitoring, the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) administered the training.

A. Policy Framework: 

The effort required various forms of arrangements given the channels undertaken by the project. In terms of the establishment of funds, a Letter of Engagement (LE) or a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) might be required. The MOA or LE is needed to lay down rules on how the fund will be established and disbursed. On the side of regulation, rules identifying who would eventually perform the task of monitoring air quality need to be determined. A legal delineation of duties of the relevant local government divisions is required. Also, the identification of the office or staff who would be the eventual enforcers would need clearance from other national agencies. In the case of Palawan, sanction from the Department of Transportation and Communication/Land Transportation Office was required.

B. Budgetary and Financial Requirements: 

(see materials and resources)

C. Human Resources: 

The program would involve upgrading of skills of operators. Training on proper engine maintenance for operators and drivers are required. On monitoring of emissions and air quality, existing personnel in the local government can be used. However, these personnel will need certification from national agencies tasked with handling the transport sector and monitoring air quality. For the case of Palawan, involvement from the EMB and the DOTC was critical. With the use of equipment for air sampling, the local government should also have a staff dedicated on the proper maintenance and use of the equipment. This would require training on the setting up and operation of the samplers, and the proper handling storing, and transporting of the air filters.

D. Material Resources: 

The program will require additional capital equipment that will be used for air quality monitoring and road emission testing. For Palawan, a high volume air sampler was required. Machines needed for the handling, storing, and analysis of air samples are also critical.

E. Institutional Support: 

The program is dependent on the support of both public and private institutions like non-government agencies, national agencies and offices, and local communities. For Palawan, the setting up of fund required the support of the Negros Women for Tomorrow’s Foundation. Support from the Department of Science and Technology was also solicited with regard to the provision of technologies on cleaner production.

V. Further Information: 

Air and Noise Pollution Strategies for the Tricycle sub-sector in Palawan, Philippines: Project Interim Report. www.adb.org www.povertyenvironment.net

Re-Evaluating and Continuous Assessment of Biodiversity Issues and the EIA: The Case of Vietnam

Date posted: 
Nov 20 2009

The Environment Impact Assessment is ideally an integral component of a project's planning process. It identifies potential risks given the present scenario and the perceived impact of the project's activities. Given this, the EIA gives recommendations given the set of information available during the time of the assessment. However, once the project takes place, a review of the EIA is seldom made. There is a need to revisit the EIA especially if perceived environment conditions change.

Responsible Party: 
Enforcement Agency
I. Objectives or Impact: 

There is a tendency for the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process to focus primarily on technical aspects (e.g. pollution created, emission). However, the process sometimes misses on actual environment concerns will surely be affected by the project, like relocation or biodiversity. Worse, concerns on economic development often takes the prime seat while issues related with conservation and biodiversity are placed aside. The problem is that environmental damages might prove to be irreversible. Also, biodiversity issues that seem to be trivial at initial glance might become big risks as an economic activity or project progresses. The case of cement manufacturing in Ha Tien Plane in Vietnam, a critical ecosystem, displayed the need to continually assess impacts of economic activities on biodiversity. A change in the treatment of the EIA, from being a mere procedural step in project implementation to a guide that advises and gives warning to potential impacts, is highlighted.

II. Description of the Good Practice (Outputs): 

A Swiss-based cement company, Holcim, approached the International Finance Corporation (IFC) about a proposed greenfield cement plant in Hon Chong in 1993. Around that time, Vietnam was experiencing economic growth, and was opening its country to foreign investment. Specifically in the cement industry, the supply of cement from two initial operators was already being overtaken by demand. The proposed site of Holcim was highly scenic, which actually supports tourism activities. However, the view then was that the area appeared to be unproductive. In fact, the site did not appear to meet the IFC’s natural habitat standard. Interestingly, the initial EIA undertaken for the proposed cement factory noted that there is little wildlife in the area and lack of birdlife. The EIA also focused on technical issues (e.g. emission), with modest attention to biodiversity. Issues on biodiversity were raised but it was concluded that the need for cement was of prime importance relative to conservation. With the operation of the cement plant, it was realized that construction and related costs were higher than expected. Also, the production volumes were lower compared with the projected volumes. At the same time, the Asian Crisis halted the growth of the cement industry. Around that time as well, stakeholders slowly learned and realized the biological value of the affected area. Simultaneous with the cement plant’s operation, the IFC revisited the adequacy of the earlier EIA. It was learned that the landscape of the area is one of the world’s most threatened karst landscape. The biodiversity value of the area also changed due to what was happening in the other parts of the region. Grassland habitats were lost throughout the region due to the expansion of shrimp farming and rice cultivation. As grasslands slowly disappear in other areas, the endangered Eastern Sarus Crane (the world’s tallest flying bird), congregated in larger numbers in other areas, specifically the Holcim Vietnam site.

III. Outcomes or Results: 

Given the “change” in the biodiversity value of the site, Holcim and the government were placed in a predicament. The government’s priority was still economic development. At the same time, Holcim holds mineral rights on the limestone of the site. In 1999, the IFC commissioned a biodiversity assessment of the site, and the entire Hon Chong region. The assessment recognized the need for an integrated conservation initiative, encompassing the adjoining limestone, wetland, and sandstone. Though Holcim recognized that the concern is region-wide and not limited to its site, it realized that its corporate image could be affected. The biodiversity issues that emerged prompted Holcim Vietnam and the IFC to form a partnership with the International Crane Organization. Their primary aim was to demonstrate that maintaining the natural habitat could be more economically valuable than pursuing competing activities like shrimp and rice cultivation. An area (Phu My) was finally identified as an area for conservation management. It showed to be economically viable for the area. Other small-scale industries from conservation management also emerged like handicrats-making. The development of the area won the financial support from the World Bank Development Marketplace. Local government support is also strong for the conservation management efforts in the area. The linkage between IFC and the Industrial Bank started in 2004, with the IFC’s initial investment of US$ 52 million on the bank. The first-phase of the risk-sharing arrangement in 2006 made possible the creation of a facility that has been used to leverage a portfolio of US$ 65.7 million of energy efficiency equipment and project loans for small and medium-scale projects. Projects typically pursued were industrial boiler retrofitting, wasted heat recovery, co- and tri-generation projects for district heating, power saving, and optimization of industrial energy use. The initial efforts of the IFC and Industrial Bank attracted two prominent international co-investors, namely the Hang Seng Bank of Hong Kong and Singapore’s GIC Special Investments. In March 2008, participating banks in the CHUEE program approved 70 energy efficiency loans, with a loan portfolio of US$ 243 million. Interestingly, projects financed by the loans contribute to a net annual reduction of greenhouse gases of 4.3 million tons.

A. Policy Framework: 

There is a strong need to review how the EIA is conducted, particularly on the issue of securing commitment to the measures prescribed by the EIA. Also, regulatory and implementation polices that make the review of EIAs possible should be in place, with the fact that economic activities can surely have unforeseen impacts.

B. Budgetary and Financial Requirements: 

The concerned government agency needs to set up a fund that will finance regular review of selected EIAs, particularly large-scale and huge-impact projects.

C. Human Resources: 

There is a need to have a strong monitoring staff that traces whether the stakeholders comply with the measures identified by the EIA and the commitments given by respective parties. Also, given that economic activity could have irreversible consequences, the environment agency should have skills that would allow them to take preventive actions.

D. Material Resources: 

Given that a preventive action is the ideal stance, resources that would enable the regulator to track commitments and performance are necessary. A sole unit, equipped with a good data base system, is required in tracking industry actions.

E. Institutional Support: 

Partnerships with the local government and other stakeholders (NGOs, civic groups) are required to continuously keep track of biodiversity concerns. In the case of Holcim, the clamor for a review of the EIA came from the scientific community.

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