The environmental and social safeguard policies have as objectives to prevent, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts that affect the environment and society. They also promote the conservation of biodiversity and ensure the provision of ecosystem services. These policies have been the answer for improving actions during the implementation of activities aimed at managing environmental risk in infrastructure projects in the different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Commitment to objectives
In an effort to follow up on these objectives, representatives of environmental entities from Latin America and the Caribbean, The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other Inter-American organizations will meet in San Jose, Costa Rica in June for the Seventh Regional Policy Dialogue (RPD) on Environmental Licensing and Compliance in Latin America and the Caribbean. This meeting advances the discussions that took place during the Sixth RPD in the city of Washington DC, last September 2018. The sessions seek to strengthen alliances among participating countries, reinforcing communication between institutions and developing an action plan coordinated towards the future. This event will be hosted jointly with the VI and VII Encuentros of REDLAFICA, which was coordinated this way to take advantage of the attendance of the participants.
This space promoted the exchange of experiences among the environmental agencies of Spanish, Portuguese and English-speaking countries in the region and led to the identification of good practices on public policies, regarding licensing and environmental compliance. The topics addressed during the 2018 meeting were aimed at the study of:
- Regional cooperation to apply environmental and social safeguards;
- Compliance promotion throughout the project cycle;
- Performance measurement and program evaluation;
- Use of technology and intelligence in environmental and social impacts assessments, permits and investigations;
- Social impact assessment; and
- Transparency and public access to information and justice
Also, it is important to mention the topics that will be discussed during the development framework of the RPD for 2019 as a continuity to those that have been developed during this meeting:
- 60 years of environmental and social governance
- The continuous evolution of environmental and social governance
- Changing trends to close gaps in the social impacts of development projects
- Best practices for the economic valuation of potential and actual environmental damages
Likewise, a group of representatives of environmental licensing agencies will launch the Latin American Network for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (REDLASEIA).
Licensing and Enforcement
These sessions confirmed the importance of environmental licensing and enforcement in obtaining a comprehensive environmental and social governance system that promotes sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Instead of being an additional cost, environmental and social considerations demonstrate the existence of an economy that can be in continuous growth but that also seeks the conservation of a clean, safe and healthy clean environment. Having this in mind, the licenses and permits to which each project must be subjected helps prevent situations of risk and maintains control of the activities that imply it. This contribution significantly reduces the impact that such activities can bring to the environment and communities while strengthening the sustainable development of a country.
Thanks to the completion of these Dialogues, and as a result of the different debates about the issues that faced environmental licensing and enforcement, it was concluded that:
- Feedback between the application and licenses is crucial to ensure compliance with environmental and social commitments. Both functions are part of the same process and therefore sharing best practices and applying better mechanisms to guarantee feedback will strengthen not only the environmental license itself but also the subsequent monitoring and application.
- The challenges faced by the countries in the region are similar.
- The existence of differentiated levels of human and material capacities dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and the clear need to have more information about them is evident.
- Issues related to fines and environmental sanctions, socio-environmental impacts, regional information platforms and public participation / prior consultation, were those in which attendees showed greater interest. These topics can be used for future meetings.
The VI DRP 2018 delivered on the offer made the previous year and corresponded to the first Joint-Dialogues of Latin America and the Caribbean, emphasizing once again the idea that these meetings are an important part of the IDB’s work for strengthening national licensing and environmental compliance systems.
Next Event: VII Regional Policy Dialogue, Costa Rica, 2019
The theme of the VII RPD will be Strengthening Economic, Spatial, and Policy Tools for Decision-Making. Coordination between enforcement and licensing is crucial to establish expectations and ensure compliance with socio-environmental commitments since both roles are part of the same process. Sharing best practices and applying better feedback mechanisms will strengthen not only the environmental licenses themselves but also their subsequent monitoring and enforcement.