The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) is hopeful that the newly signed Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) law will strengthen environmental regulation and management in the country.
ZEMA Director General John Msimuko said the SEA was signed into law by the former Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection Raphael Nakachinda on May 11, 2021, before dissolution of parliament and published in the Government Gazette of May 14, 2021 as Statutory Instrument No. 48 of 2021.
Mr. Msimuko said in a press statement issued to ZANIS in Lusaka that the new law has broader perspectives compared to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in seeking protection and conservation of the environment.
He explained that over the years, ZEMA has been enforcing the EIA which focuses on assessing the potential positive and negative impacts that a proposed project may have on the environment.
But the SEA on the other hand seeks to assessing policies, plans and programmes and their potential effects on environmental and sustainable management and utilization of natural resources.
Mr. Msimuko said the implementation of the new regulations aims at enhancing the assessment of the extent to which a draft policy, plan or programme will take environmental considerations in decision-making, development and implementation of the said policy, plan or programme.
He said the SEA will help the country focus on resetting human relation with nature.
In relation to the World Environmental Day which fell on June 5 under the theme, “Ecosystem Restoration”, Mr. Msimuko said the SEA comes at a time when Zambia joins the rest of the world in commemorating this important day.
“We believe the theme fits well in the overall objective of the SEA regulations on the strategic approach to the protection and conservation of the environment,” he said.
He said the SEA adds to the many environmental monitoring tools that the country can rely on to enhance environmental protection efforts.
Mr. Msimuko has since commended the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) under the Ministry of National Development Planning for financial support and the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection for technical guidance and other stakeholders in the development of the SEA regulations.
He said ZEMA will continue engaging stakeholders and the general public on the enforcement of the SEA regulations and their likely impacts on the overall environmental management regulatory framework in the country.