National environment strategy to have specific mandates and to fix accountability on agencies

Environment: Sixteen years after the National Environment Strategy (NES) was adopted, the National Environment Commission is reviewing the strategy to make it relevant to the changes in environment and policies.

The commission adopted the first NES, called the Middle Path, in 1998.

NEC officials and a task force, consisting of members from government agencies, private sector, and non-government organisations, are today reviewing the document.

It is the key reference document for sustainable development, focusing on integration of environmental sustainability in key development sectors.

However, the commission found that the NES 1998 was vague on some critical issues and did not include climate change.

The task force’s project manager, Karma Tshering, said, “The new one has new targets, roles and responsibilities of the agencies and urgency of the targets, with indicators to measure the success of the activities.”

He said the last 16 years have seen the evolution of policies and legislation, along with changes in the socio economic and environmental conditions in the country.

Concurrently, the institutional setting for environmental management has expanded beyond the traditional domains of the commission to include competent authorities and other responsible bodies.

Karma Tshering said that, since the 9th Plan, environment has come to be increasingly recognised as an issue that cuts across several development sectors and agencies.

Following consultations held across the country, he said that climate change and waste emerged as key environmental concerns that require cross-sectoral approach.  The revised strategy would now have a chapter on climate change.

“Emerging issues, such as e-waste, sustainable consumption and production, and gender would also be included in the NES 2015,” Karma Tshering said. “The revision is done to include provisions of the Constitution and other legislation or policies, and critical emerging issues.”

The task force will integrate a low-emission and climate resilient development strategy (LECRDS), and mainstream climate change in development planning.

The NES 1998 identified three important avenues for sustainable development: hydropower development, based on integrated watershed management; agricultural development, based on sustainable production practices; and industrial development, based on effective pollution controls and enforcement of environmental standards.

The revised strategy will be in place by August this year.

By Tshering Palden