Still talking about that 47 percent… But at least…

Tommy Koh had another piece in last Saturday’s Straits Times, “Green thoughts inspired by Stockholm and Rio“.

By now, most people who care would know that the Rio+20 summit that ended yesterday achieved next to nothing, and achieving nothing when action is urgently needed is pretty much equivalent to failure.

In fact, there was a piece reproduced in today’s ST by a conference official (Jagdish Bhagwati, “Rio’s unsustainable nonsense“), who bemoaned how the meeting was successfully hijacked by many interest groups lobbying to include text in the final agreement that were irrelevant to environmental sustainability.

Still, a diplomat is always an optimist, and Tommy Koh listed many “achievements” of Singapore. Given the politicking behind global agreements on climate change and biodiversity conservation, hope for any real action seems to be now pinned on local governments, the private sector, and regional groupings.

Singapore is certainly no environmental angel. One of the things that Tommy Koh suggested needs to be improved upon is something we have been saying all this while:

…I think the time has come for Singapore to enact a law on environmental impact assessment (EIA). Having been intimately involved in a legal dispute involving our land reclamation activities in the Strait of Johor, I know that we do, in fact, carry out such an assessment. The result is, however, not made public and there is no consultation with interested stakeholders. Our neighbor, Malaysia, has shown that having an EIA law need not result in inordinate delay.

At its best, the EIA will lead to a better decision, and the people will feel that their views have been taken into consideration in arriving at that decision.

Singapore needs to have mandatory EIAs written into law, and these EIAs must be made available for open access, so that developers will have to justify themselves to public inquiry if they disagreed or did not follow recommendations therein (which should not be legally binding anyway, in order for developers to exercise their own judgment). The government should also NOT be exempted from open-access EIAs for all its developmental projects.

Let’s see if such a call from Singapore’s top diplomat will result in any action.

(Probably not, since it doesn’t seem to be caught on anyone’s radar, unlike the “Nordic model” issue.)

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1 Comment

  1. 12 January 2013 at 16:28

    […] makes it seem as though that there are clear guidelines on which to decide if an EIA is needed. EIAs are not mandatory by Singapore’s laws, and the decision processes leading up to when an EIA would be called are opaque, with pieacemeal […]


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