Gambia government through the National Environment Agency on Wednesday
validated the national Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) Policy Guidelines
and Procedures, 2017 – 2021. SEA is the
environmental assessment of policy plan and programme proposals.
The validation workshop, held at a local hotel in Banjul, was funded by the United Nations Development Programme and attended by various stakeholders.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Environment Pa Ousman Jarjue said the development of SEA policy and guidelines is “another major achievement” registered in the quest to ensure environmental sustainability without compromising national development objectives.
“The SEA, by its nature, is a holistic environmental planning mechanism that complements other available tools such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and its development could not have come at a more important time,” he said.
The minister noted that The Gambia, like other countries in the continent, is bearing the burden of climate change impacts, with associated socio-economic losses.
He said certain phenomena, such as human population growth, decline in annual average rainfall and inadequate land and forest management technology, continue to drive environmental and natural resources degradation.
Mr Jarjue said across the globe, the socio economic impacts of these challenges have increased “tremendously and put a considerable strain on government ability” to ensure the provision of badly needed social services to better the lives of citizens.
Muhammed Denton, director of finance and administration at NEA, speaking on behalf of the NEA acting executive director, said The Gambia government is committed to the goal of sustainable development.
He explained that SEA is considered a direct means of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding that there is a need for the development of both institutional and human capacities to integrate it into national planning process.
“Therefore, decision makers at all levels must be able to take economic social and environmental considerations into account in order to make informed decisions in support of sustainable development,” Mr Denton said.
He further pointed out that through SEA, environmental considerations can be addressed at the earliest appropriate stage of planning, along with economic and social considerations.
“The need for incorporating SEA in national planning process is becoming even more crucial because of the pressure on the environment and natural resources is increasing every day as a result, the national ecological resource base is being systematically degraded,” he stated.
The SEA policy will provide a framework to integrate environment and climate change into the national planning processes by building capacities of policymakers and other stakeholders on the need for integration of SEA in policy plans and programmes.