Environment Bill : Towards a more sustainable Mauritius?

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Published on 2024-04-09 at 09:55
Amidst Mauritius' pressing environmental challenges, the government has introduced an ambitious bill aimed at replacing the outdated Environmental Protection Act. This legislative move holds significant potential for shaping the nation's ecological trajectory.

Last Tuesday, at the National Assembly, Environment Minister Kavi Ramano unveiled the Environment Bill, a forward-looking legislative proposal crafted to supersede the antiquated Environmental Protection Act. This development is particularly welcomed given the obsolescence of the former law, originally enacted in 2002, which no longer adequately addresses the contemporary issues of climate change and environmental degradation.

The proposed bill is poised to bring about several pivotal changes. Firstly, it prioritizes the safeguarding of Mauritius' fragile ecosystem, which faces imminent threats, with almost 89% of endemic plant species and numerous animal species teetering on the edge of extinction. Central to this initiative is the establishment of an Environmental Observatory, intended as a platform for engaging stakeholders, including the public, in the oversight, management, and conservation of the environment. This move promises to foster transparent and participatory decision-making processes, underscoring Mauritius' dedication to preserving its invaluable ecological heritage.

Furthermore, the bill addresses the imperative of waste management, a pressing concern in a country generating over 540,000 tonnes of waste annually. Embracing the concept of a circular economy, the legislation outlines a comprehensive national strategy aimed at reducing, reusing, and recycling waste—a crucial step towards maintaining the island's natural allure. Additionally, the bill tackles the escalating issue of plastic pollution by instituting a robust plastics management framework, complete with a national strategy and action plan aimed at promoting sustainable plastic production and management.

In the pursuit of sustainable development, the bill advocates for the integration of environmental considerations across all developmental spheres. This entails the formulation of national policies, strategies, and action plans on sustainable development and the circular economy, to be periodically revisited every five years. Such proactive measures aim to steer Mauritius towards a more sustainable trajectory, facilitating the transition to a green and circular economy.

Moreover, the bill introduces novel provisions such as the mandatory issuance of a completion certificate prior to commencing business operations, ensuring adherence to environmental standards. Additionally, it proposes the establishment of a National Oil Spill Coordination Committee to expedite a coordinated response to any oil spill incidents, further bolstering the nation's environmental preparedness and resilience.