The commencement of the Environment Management Act 2005 and its associated regulations on 1 January2008 represents a major milestone in the development of environmental law and policy in Fiji. The Act provides a new framework for national coordination and planning in relation to environmental matters, and grants broad new powers to government agencies to control environmentally harmful activities.
In particular, the Act requires environmental impact assessment of a wide range of development activities, and establishes a new legal framework for waste and pollution control. The Act will play an important role in the fulfillment of Fiji’s international commitments under a number of international and regional agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on the Protection of Natural Resources and the Environment of the South Pacific (‘Noumea Convention’).
Furthermore, the Act provides a powerful mechanism for promoting and supporting the objectives of key national strategies and policies, including the National Sustainable Development Strategy, National Environment Strategy, Fiji Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, National Forest Policy Statement and the Rural Land Use Policy. Effective implementation of the Act requires the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders including government agencies, legal practitioners, environmental consultants, commercial and industrial facilities, non-government organizations, communities and the public at large.
In light of this, the Department of Environment has initiated a training, education and awareness program for government agencies, commercial and industrial facilities and other relevant stakeholders. The Department has promoted the new laws through the media, prepared guidelines, fact sheets, brochures and other information resources, and delivered training to a growing range of stakeholders.