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 concern. Yet, effective implementation of the EIA laws in Asia remains patchy, especially in relation to compliance and enforcement of environmental management and monitoring plans (EMMPs) which identify measures to be taken in order to reduce adverse environmental and social impacts to acceptable levels or to offset them. Therefore, EIA implementation needs to be enhanced through further capacity strengthening.
Under Asian Development Bank (ADB) support to AECEN, two EIA twinning projects have been launched in 2014: one between Lao PDR and Japan and the other between Sri Lanka and Japan. Under a “twinning” project, a mentor country and a mentee country cooperate on activities including technical assistance in the development and implementation of improved policies and practices, on-the-job training, peer review, and information sharing.
Japan: Sri Lanka Twinning
The Sri Lankan twinning project is being implemented with the Central Environmental Authority (CEA). At the first consultation workshop, 25 participants including current and former officials from the CEA, officials from technical agencies, and experts engaged in EIA from ADB, Japan, and the AECEN Secretariat gathered to share their knowledge and experience regarding EIA implementation and to identify compliance challenges and needs in Sri Lanka.
Japan: Lao PDR Twinning
The Lao PDR twinning project, which involves the Department of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (DESIA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental (MoNRE), kicked off with 20 participants from DESIA, experts from ERM, Japan, and AECEN Secretariat sharing their knowledge and experience from EIA implementation and identifying compliance challenges and needs in Lao PDR.
Both workshops established a good relationship between the mentor and mentee countries on how to find solutions that are suitable for their national needs. The successful workshop outputs included MoUs and joint work plans among the twinning organizations. Further information on this twinning arrangement will be reported after a knowledge sharing visit to Japan and return visits to Sri Lanka and Lao PDR to conduct related training.