Presentation of the analysis of gaps and shortcomings in the institutional and legal framework for the environment

Presentation of the analysis of gaps and shortcomings in the institutional and legal framework for the environment

On January 27, the Center for Legal Research and Analysis presented the Analysis of Gaps and Shortcomings- Challenges and Opportunities for the Institutional and Legal Framework of the Environment.

The analysis was presented by the CLRA and the expert team that discussed the key conclusions and the identified problems in the field of environment, nature protection, waste management, water management, and monitoring of ambient air quality before the representatives of the competent institutions – Ministry of Environment and spatial planning and the State Inspectorate of Environment.

Academic Prof. Dr. Vlado Kambovski, who led the event, noted that the analysis lays the foundation for a multi-disciplinary approach that is provided in the work of the Platform for Environmental Justice. In his speech, he emphasized the need for doctrinal change in the regulations governing environmental protection given that regulates areas are of great importance to the public interest. Nikola Jovanovski, Program Manager at CLRA presented the conclusions from the analysis of the legal framework for the environment where the need for a comprehensive revision of national environmental goals was emphasized, as well as information systems on the state of the environment, regulation, and management of ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gas emission inventory systems. According to Marjan Mihajlov, the expert who prepared the analysis in this part, to timely implement the set legal obligations and environmental goals, additions to human and technical capacity and resources are necessary. Zharko Hadzi-Zafirov, the legal expert in the analysis for the field of waste management referred to the need to redefine the competencies for waste management at the local level and transfer. He stressed that the local segment in waste management is neglected, especially given that regional waste management centers have not been established since 2010 due to a lack of institutional, financial, and personnel policy. Regarding the strategic waste management from an institutional and financial point of view, Mr. Hadzi-Zafirov pointed out that the Sector for Waste Management in the Directorate of Environment as the only part of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning is completely marginalized, unlike other sectors.

Prof. Ana Pavlovska Daneva referred to the inadequate internal organization of the MoEPP which prevents the efficient execution of legal competencies, especially since there is a lack of professional and qualified staff in this area. This is important to keep in mind when evaluating the measures and activities of the MoEPP for monitoring the ambient air quality because the law predicts the establishment of a separate internal organizational unit in the MoEPP that will enable the creation of policies and operational function for their implementation. In addition, she pointed out the Environmental Directorate, instead of a body within the Ministry, should have the legal status of an agency separate from the organizational structure of the Ministry.

From the performed analysis of the Law on Waters, Dr. Elena Mujoska Trpeska pointed out that despite the National Water Strategy from 2012 to 2042, the envisaged goals and plans for river basin management as basic strategic documents have not been harmonized yet. For this reason, she pointed out that no data is available on whether the Water Pollutants Cadastre has been established as it should be an integral part of river basin management plans. This fact was followed by the National Water Council whose functioning is limited given the fact that since 2012 no new composition of the Council is envisaged.

Regarding the law on nature protection the challenges that cause overlapping of the jurisdiction of three ministries, MoEPP, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, and the Ministry of Economy were highlighted. The expert in the field, Ms. Ana Colovic Lesoska explained that due to the non-compliance of the laws there are different and opposing views of the institutions regarding the process of declaring an area protected, granting concessions, hunting permits, etc. According to her, one of the main reasons for non-compliance and the difficult communication between institutions is the lack of sufficient professional staff in management structures for the protected areas.

Nikola Jovanovski followed with the presentation of the conclusions on the internal organization and financing of key entities – the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning and the State Inspectorate for Environment. The analysis concluded that the efficiency in environmental protection will improve if the appropriate financial resources are provided to carry out the planned activities, but also fulfill the planned vacancies that are necessary for the functioning of the bodies in the field of environment and filling the foreseen vacancies in the sectors for creating and implementing policies. Regarding the State Inspectorate, it was emphasized the establishment of inter-institutional cooperation between the professional bodies in the field of environment, the bodies that perform inspection supervision, and the bodies that perform investigations.

From the presentation of the event emerged the first directions for the work of the Platform for Environmental Justice. The first step is determining the hierarchy of priorities to overcome the environmental damages and crises, then perform legal functions due to lack of technical capacity and finance, and as a third pillar was emphasized strengthening the awareness of the citizens and the competent institutions which requires necessary pooling of technical capacities and joint education.

The analysis of gaps and shortcomings – challenges and opportunities for the institutional and legal framework of the environment is part of the project “Establishing efficient and effective environmental justice”. The project also included the establishment of the Platform for Environmental Justice, for which you can get more information at the following link.