With the increase of development activities in Kiribati and environmental consequences associated with them such as coastal erosion, pollution, loss of biodiversity etc, the Government of Kiribati adopted a legislation known as the Environment Act that requires the public or the developers to use the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the planning process of their development projects such as seawalls, causeways, etc, to preserve the environment in a state that is not detrimental to the life of future generations.
The main objective of the EIA is to
– study the effects of a development proposal in order to protect people and the environment from poorly considered planning process;
– undertake a systematic evaluation of all significant environmental consequences a development proposal is likely to have on the environment before a decision to undertake the activity is made
– improve development by suggesting project implementation and operational standards such as environmental management and protection measures or identifying more appropriate alternatives;
– communicates with the public and facilitate their involvement in the designing the best possible development
The Development Control Unit (DCU) is the Unit within the Environment and Conservation Division that responsible for overseeing the EIA process including its procedures and requirements under the environment legislation.
The main Programs or core activities of the DCU are as follows:
- Screening and Reviewing of environment license application forms
It is the responsibility of the Development Control Unit to screen and review the environment license application form and to advise whether the environment license would be granted, the environmental impact assessment study would be required, or to reject the proposal.
- Impact analysis
This refers to the identification and prediction of the likely environmental effects of the proposal. This process includes site visits to the proposal, field works, and seeking the public opinion on the proposal.
- Mitigation and Impact management
This activity refers to the establishment of environmental measures that are necessary to avoid, minimize or offset predicted adverse impacts of the development proposal and where appropriate, to incorporate these measures into an environmental management plan or system. One way of doing this is through the conditions of the environment license.
- Review of environmental impact assessment report.
When the proponent is required to do the environmental impact study on its proposal, and the EIA study report is completed and submitted to Environment and conservation division, it is the responsibility of the Development Control Unit to review the EIA report to ensure that all environmental concerns are identified and environmental management protection measures are also set to address and mitigate the concerns identified.
- Processing of Environment License with Conditions
When the development proposal is recommended for approval by the Environment and Conservation Division, it is the responsibility of the Development Control unit to process the Environment License and to develop the terms and conditions for the project implementation, for the license holder or the proponent to comply with when undertaking the activity. The Development Control Unit is also responsible for submissions to the Secretary MELAD for environment license recommended for approval for his/her signature.
– Regulate Environmental Scientific Research (ESR) activities in Kiribati through a permit system
– Handle and oversee the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) programmes and projects at the national level.