YANGON, 3 October 2019 – The AICHR convened the regional consultation on commonalities of environmental impact assessment (EIA) in ASEAN Member States and advancing a harmonised and right-based approach on 2-3 October in Yangon, Myanmar.
This consultation was a continuation of previous efforts by AICHR Myanmar which were initiated in 2014, 2015 and 2017 on human rights, environment and climate change.
Building on the previous recommendations, this year’s consultation aimed to consider further concrete steps towards the emergence of a compendium of existing national EIA procedures and commonalities in ASEAN Member States and a rights-based framework for effective EIA in ASEAN, transboundary EIA and Strategic Environmental Assessment.
During the two-day consultation, the participants discussed existing legal framework for the environment and EIA in ASEAN Member States and identified areas of commonalities. They also discussed ways forward for a harmonised and right-based regional framework which includes identification of stakeholders, possible content for the regional framework, and timeframe among others.
In the opening session, the Representative of Myanmar Ambassador Hla Myint stated that, “human rights promotion and environmental sustainability are closely intertwined and believed to be at the core of sustainable development. Through a rights-based framework for EIA, the environment can be protected, sustained and sustainable development can be achieved.”
In his keynote speech video, Dr. David R. Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, highlighted that EIA is valuable tool for allowing economic development to proceed while ensuring the protection of environment to be realised. To make it a genuinely effective tool to protect environment and human rights, the EIA processes should include access to information, public participation and access to justice in effective remedy.
Dr. Boyd further underscored the commitment of ASEAN Leaders on ASEAN Declaration on Environmental Sustainability which emphasised the need of concerted effort to strengthen global and regional efforts on adapting to and mitigating climate change.
The consultation brought together participants from ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, including the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, the representatives from ASEAN Member States ministries, civil society organisations and academics dealing with environment-related matters, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment as well as experts from various regional and international organisations.
The consultation was co-organised by AICHR Myanmar, AICHR Thailand and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation of Myanmar, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme.