Uganda: Parliament Scrutinizes Environmental Bill 2017

Kampala — The parliamentary committee on Natural resources has started studying the National Environment Bill2017 which anticipates providing solutions to the increasing environmental issues the current environmental law cannot address.

Committee member John Baptist Nambeshe, told this publication that the committee members are scrutinizing clause by clause of the Bill.

The legislators are optimistic that once the bill is finalized and passed by Parliament, it will empower the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to execute its duties in an effective manner.

"As legislators, it's imperative to come up with laws which take care of all the emerging environmental issues in the country. The current law is too weak to address some of the new emerging issues especially in the oil and gas sector, "He explained.

The legislator who represents Manjiya County in Bududa District said currently Uganda is experiencing a strong impact of climate change but under the current law, there's no way government can respond to mitigate climate change.

The primary objective of the Bill is to repeal and replace the National Environment Act to make it conform to the existing government policies. The bill also intends to provide solutions to the emerging issues such as to provide for emerging environmental issues including climate change, the management of hazardous chemicals and biodiversity offsets; provide for strategic environmental assessments; to address environmental concerns arising out of petroleum activities.

Under the new Bill, government intends to establish Environmental Tribunal which will support NEMA to prosecute organizations and individuals who commit environmental offences.

According to NEMA, the current environmental law which came into force on 19th May 1995 has become outdated, especially in light of numerous environmental challenges that have emerged and emerging international best practices.

The discovery of petroleum in commercial quantities in the Albertine Graben, with the attendant environmental challenges; Uganda is also experiencing technology advancement, this comes with the challenges of managing e-waste; and unsound use of chemicals, among others, this need to be addressed in this regard.

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