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«His Majesty's Government Ministry of Population and Environment Kathmandu, Nepal June 2000 Ministry of Population and Environment 1 State of the ...»

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The Ninth Five Year Plan explicitly indicates that resource mobilisation, conservation and management of forests will be at par with the demand and supply of forest products. For long term purposes, implementation of forest management programmes is envisaged in the plan. It also emphasises the involvement of private sector and introduction of market economy for sustainable forest development.

As per the APP objectives, increased agro-inputs such as chemical fertilisers and pesticides will be required to increase the per unit agro-yield.

While these have certain negative environmental impacts, new strategies 75 Ministry of Population and Environment State of the Environment Report, 2000 are being taken into consideration in the integrated plant nutrient management (IPNM) and the integrated pest management (IPM) systems.

The need for air and water pollution control has also been addressed in the Ninth Five Year Plan. The Plan has also stressed the conservation of the national cultural heritage by planning for an ethnographic museum.

3.2 Action Plans Nepal started the preparation and implementation of the Environment-related Action Plans (EAP) after her participation in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

In response to the growing awareness about the importance of mainstreaming environmental programmes in the development planning and implementation, Nepal prepared the (Nepal) Environmental Policy and Action Plan (NEPAP) which was endorsed by the Environment Protection Council in

1993. Based on previous assessments of environmental issues, challenges and opportunities, a number of actions were proposed in the following five prominent areas.

1. Sustainable management of natural resources;

2. Population, health and poverty;

3. Safeguarding the national heritage;

4. Mitigating adverse environmental impacts; and

5. Legislation, institutions, education and public awareness.

Since 1993, several institutions have continued the incorporation of selected activities in programme planning and implementation. However, much of the actions still remain to be implemented.

Nepal also prepared a National Plan of Action as part of a national report to the City Summit (HABITAT II) held in Istanbul from 3 to 14 June 1996. This Action Plan identifies the priority issues related to shelter, urban poverty and planning, environmental management, local governance and conservation of cultural heritage. Various actions have been proposed in these broad sectors which also include monitoring and evaluation as well as implementation mechanism. The Action Plan clearly documents the issues, objectives, activities and time frame and responsible agencies for implementation. HMG is implementing the selected activities of this Plan in a phased manner.

The Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation is currently finalizing the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) under the GEF-funded Ministry of Population and Environment 76 State of the Environment Report, 2000 Biodiversity Conservation Project with the objectives of providing a systematic and strategic approach to biodiversity protection in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Nepal is a Party since February 1994. This Action Plan identifies key biodiversity issues, and documents a number of priority programmes in the areas of agriculture, community forests, livestock genetics, rangeland, protected areas, wetland, and non-timber forest products. The NBAP proposes special programmes to address cross-sectoral issues on biodiversity. A time frame and estimated cost is also proposed therein.

The Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE) has also recently prepared a five-year Strategic Plan with a view to mainstreaming environmental aspects in socio-economic development plans and programmes. This Plan outlines MOPE's mission, goals, strategies, priority activities and outputs. The recommended mission of the Ministry is "to promote environmentally sound and sustainable development and thereby safeguard human health". This Strategic Plan aims to integrate environmental instruments in economic development planning and decision-making; develop and strengthen human resources (knowledge based and technical/scientific) and institutions; institutionalize stakeholders' participation on environmental management; and minimize pollution load through the enforcement of environmental legislation and standards.

In order to achieve these desired outputs, 21 activities and 84 sub-activities have been identified for the five year period. Effective implementation of this Plan will likely mainstream the integration of environmental aspects in programme planning, design and implementation at the cross-sectors.

3.3 Environmental Legislation

Environmental legislation is a key to the promotion of environment management activities in a democratic society. Prior to the reinstatement of democracy in 1990, sectoral policies were directed to the utilisation of natural resources for infrastructure development, even at the cost of environment. Environmental provisions in earlier Constitutions, such as in the 1990 Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, were virtually absent.

However, the present Constitution of Nepal, 1990 clearly indicates the need for environmental conservation in the 'Directive Principles of the State'. It states that "The State shall give priority to the protection of the environment of the country and also prevent damage due to physical development activities by making people conscious of environmental cleanliness, and by making special arrangements for the protection of rare animal species, forest and vegetation" [Article 26(4)]. According to the

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Legislation plays a significant role in meeting environmental obligations, creating public awareness and resolving conflicts. Various sectoral laws enacted after 1990 contain provisions to institutionalise an ex ante consideration of the environment in development planning and their subsequent implementation. There are a number of sectoral laws dealing directly or indirectly with environmental issues. Some of the complementary Acts are briefly summarised in Table 3.1 to provide an insight into the spectrum of legislative provisions related to environment.

Following the establishment of the Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE) in September 1995, the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1996 and the Environment Protection Rules (EPR), 1997 came into existence.

This environmental legislation emphasises environment conservation and management through internalisation of the environment assessment system, pollution control and prevention, conservation of natural heritage sites, operation of environmental funds, additional incentives to minimise pollution, and compensation for environmental damages. Emphasis has also been laid on carrying out environmental impact assessment of the prescribed development projects and programmes. More than 200 types of developmental activities must follow the environmental assessment process. MOPE reserves the right to accept or reject the environmental impact assessment report(s) of the prescribed proposal(s), whereas the concerned ministries could approve the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) report(s). Regarding pollution management, the EPR, 1997 envisages an environmental permit system, and the polluters shall have to comply with the environmental standards. A maximum penalty of 0.1 million rupees (1 US $ = Rs. 69) may be imposed upon those who implement projects without receiving approval for the IEE/EIA report (MOPE, 1997).

The EPA, 1996 also empowers the Environmental Inspector to inspect and report on the implementation status of agreed upon conditions. The Act also empowers HMG to constitute the Environment Protection Council and provide policy guidance and suggestions to the government. The Council will consist of environmental experts and representatives of the recognised political parties at the national level. The EPA, 1996 and EPR, 1997 have

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The Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1996 obliges the approving agency the Ministry of Population and Environment - to make necessary arrangements to open the EIA report for the general public to render opinions and suggestions. The Environment Protection Rules (EPR),1997 (amendment 1999) further elaborates the public consultation process in order to ensure the participation of different stakeholders right from the scoping to the approval processes.

The EPR, 1997 obliges the proponent to issue public notice on the contents prior to the preparation of a scoping report. Once the draft EIA report is prepared, based on the approved Terms of Reference (TOR), the proponent should conduct a Public Hearing at the project site.

Following submission of the EIA report to the Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE), it should be made public. The MOPE has to legally approve the EIA report within 60 days upon receipt.

These legal provisions are meant to enhance the participation of different stakeholders right from the project inception to the implementation of the proposal.

The Forest Act, 1992 and the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 (amendment 1993 with the inclusion of buffer zone concept) have been found effective in involving local people in forest management and species conservation. A legal provision on benefit sharing has also encouraged the local people in species conservation and has helped resolve conflicts between parks management and the people living in and around the area to some extent (Box 3.2).

Most of the legal provisions on environment management are very new and while some require the setting of environmental standards others require extended rules and regulations for enforcement. These regulations have, however, opened avenues for developing and/or amending other measures for environment management.

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Eight national parks, four wildlife reserves, one hunting reserve and three conservation areas have ensured, in situ, conservation of biological diversity in about 18 per cent of the total area of the country. Various programmes have been launched to maintain the habitat and to increase the number of endangered, threatened and vulnerable wildlife.

Continuous and untiring efforts by the government along with its conservation partners, both international and national NGOs as well as the community, have proved successful in bringing about positive changes in the conservation of biological species.

The new legal arrangement on buffer zone management, based upon the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 (amended 1993) has opened new avenues in resolving conflicts between the park management and the local people, especially, conflicts related to access or use of forest resources to meet the requirements of the people living near protected areas, and in preserving agricultural yield and livestock from the wild animals.

The Act also introduced the concept of revenue sharing and clearly spelled out that 30 to 50 per cent of the total revenue generated in the protected areas will be used for community development activities. This will be done to promote local people's participation in park management and ultimately in biodiversity conservation. Accordingly, a Buffer Zone Management Rules, 1996 is also in place. This concept has also prompted Nepal to strengthen eco-tourism in the protected areas. The benefit sharing mechanism has contributed a lot to resolving the prevailing conflicts on species conservation.

Source: MFSC, 1997

3.4 International Commitments

The international community is playing an important role in the conservation of environment through various measures. Cross-sectoral environmental issues are frequently addressed and national actions promoted through the adoption and implementation of environment related resolutions enshrined in international conventions. Nepal has also joined these international efforts by either being Party to several Conventions or by participating in the legally non-binding instruments such as Agenda 21.

In June 1972, Nepal participated in the United Nations Conference on 'Human Environment' held in Sweden. The Conference prompted Nepal to initiate several environment-friendly activities and rehabilitate its degraded Ministry of Population and Environment 81 State of the Environment Report, 2000 lands. It has since continued to participate in several meetings and conferences. Nepal actively participated in the Earth Summit in June 1992, which adopted Agenda 21 as a blue print of actions on environment and development for the 21st century. Nepal has also re-emphasised its plan to attain the goals of sustainable development, embodied in "Our Common Future." Nepal has also been actively participating in regional environment management efforts. It is member of various regional inter-governmental bodies such as South Asian Co-operative Environmental Programme (SACEP) and South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), both of which aim at fostering relationships and working for the management of the environment, individually or jointly.

3.4.1 Legally Binding Instruments

The past two decades have witnessed the birth of a considerable number of international Conventions and Agreements in the field of environment conservation. Several international environmental instruments were adopted to address a wide variety of environmental problems such as transboundary air pollution, protection of the ozone layer, transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, trade in endangered species, protection of international waterways, climate change, conservation of biological species and combating desertification. In accordance with the commitments in the international fora, Nepal has ratified or has access to 16 environment related Conventions and Agreements. However, despite HMG being bound under the Nepal Treaty Act to take legislative measures for the implementation of treaties to which Nepal is party (Belbase, 1997), a significant gap between international environmental instruments and their implementation at the national level is apparent. This may be due to the absence of a specific agency to implement these treaties.

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