Presentation of the policy document ,,How to achieve efficient and effective environmental justice?”

On March 3, 2021, through the online platform Zoom, the Center for Legal Research and Analysis promoted the policy document “How to achieve efficient and effective environmental justice?”

The policy document was presented by the CLRA and the authors of the document, a team of 4 local and one international expert. The critical points in the institutional and legislative framework for environment detected by the Analysis of gaps and shortcomings – challenges and opportunities for the institutional and legal framework of the environment were discussed, as well as the relevant recommendations for overcoming these gaps.

The Program Manager at CLRA, Nikola Jovanovski, who led the event, said he hoped the document would help all key environmental stakeholders create policies that would be more effective and efficient.

The legal expert, Zharko Aleksov, pointed out that the starting point of this document are the conclusions that emerged from the GAP analysis that together constitute a systematic approach to the critical points in the environment, determining future steps to improve the situation in the environment. Aleksov focused on the structure of the policy document itself, noting that it consists of 3 parts:

1. Summary observations and recommendations – a guide for determining the future steps considered through the prism of 5 value categories: efficiency, transparency, promptness, quality, and access to justice.

2. Scoreboard of functional and formal compliance- pictorial way of showing the 5 value categories

3. International practices from EU state-members and good practices.

Aleksov noted that the right to a healthy living environment is a constitutionally guaranteed right (as well as an obligation of the state), opening the door to environmental justice is slow due to the growing industrialization.

At the end of his presentation, the legal expert Zharko Aleksov summarized the six recommendations arising from the Policy document, which were further discussed in more detail by the other authors: 1. It is necessary to prepare a functional analysis of the MoEPP with all parameters 2. Preparation of a summary strategic document with measurable indicators for monitoring and evaluation 3. Establishment of interoperability for data exchange and coordination 4. Review of the legal concept in order to strengthen the legal protection 5. Review of the legal competencies of the municipalities vs. budget capacities 6. Increasing the cooperation with CSOs as partners of the state.

Aleksandar Dedinec, a research associate at the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, focused his attention on two value categories, efficiency, and transparency, presenting the summary observations with appropriate proposals. As the main problem in the field of efficiency, the possibility of the absence of internal ministerial coordination, the cooperation between the central and local levels as well as the bureaucratization of the establishment of new departments and management structures were presented. Dedinec summarized the proposals for the part of efficiency in several groups, emphasizing the need for statutory, legal changes and compliance with the legal obligations for technical inspections.

In terms of transparency, the main problem is that information is not submitted to the MoEPP, and therefore it is difficult to identify the problems promptly, which leads to the absence of appropriate creation of measures to overcome these problems.

Professor Gordana Lazetikj discussed in more detail the gaps and the corresponding proposals for the other three value categories. Regarding the quality part, Professor Lazetikj singled out three aspects that deserve special attention, namely: staff, technical aspects, and financial resources. In terms of promptness, the main axiom is that the right to a healthy environment is not exercised, but this problem should not be transferred to the MoEPP because all active stakeholders should take an active part. The proposals are aimed at the interconnection of the strategic documents with the goals and measures as well as greater harmonization of the laws with each other. As the most problematic part, she singled out the access to justice, which she compared to a labyrinth (constitutional law is only declarative, limited access to judicial protection). Lazetikj stressed that the expert team is committed to the existence of an environmental lawsuit and an environmental task force.

Lawyer Aleksandar Godzo covered the second part of the Policy Document, ie the scoreboard of formal and functional compliance. He noted that the scoreboard will be a tool of great value to the society because the protection of the environment is a test that the whole society should pass on the road to EU membership.

The scoreboard is made according to the good governance indicators for all areas analyzed by the Gap Analysis. Lawyer Gojo pointed out that the yellow color of the traffic light is dominant, ie RNM in terms of functional and formal compliance is somewhere in the middle, there is tension between the need and requirement for compliance with international standards and strategic documents and the needs of society and its opportunities to be as in those regulations without affecting the economy.

International expert Jovanka Ignjatovic spoke more about what is happening in the countries around us in the field of environmental management, in terms of “how we as humans exercise our authority over natural resources and natural systems.”

The expert Ignjatovic presented to the participants the general lessons learned by the EU state-members during the process of implementation of environmental management, recommendations for overcoming the shortcomings, as well as the reasons for the weaknesses in implementation and mismanagement of the environment. It was emphasized that 5 aspects were considered: transparency, public participation, access to justice, ensuring compliance and accountability, effectiveness and efficiency.

 Finally, Jovanka Ignjatovik stressed that there are no “good” and “bad” practices in a broader sense, but only an opportunity to learn from each other in terms of approaches to coordination between different administrative levels and different groups of stakeholders.

 The policy document “How to Get Efficient and Effective Environmental Justice” is part of the project “Establishing Efficient and Effective Environmental Justice”, funded by the Government of the United Kingdom, with the support of the British Embassy in Skopje.