Peruvian civil society organisations Derecho Ambiente and Recursos Naturales (DAR) have published an analysis of the environmental and human rights implications of the recently adopted legislative decree No 1500.
Published on 11 May, the decree attempts to put in place special measures to reactivate public and private investment. The decree includes measures pertaining to environmental permits or certifications but, according to DAR, it fails to guarantee that appropriate health measures be put in place since no “binding technical opinion” from the Ministry of Health is required before projects are allowed to operate.
DAR also points at fears that the measures to be taken to guarantee citizen participation, particularly in indigenous communities, may be short-sighted, in that they recommend that “within the elaboration and evaluation of environmental impact assessments for investments projects [citizen participation mechanisms] should adapt to the sanitary measures in place, suggesting alternative measures such as electronic and virtual settings”. However, these measures may have an impact on many indigenous and peasant communities which lack the appropriate technology and infrastructure to participate in such settings. Certainly, in remote areas of the Amazon the implementation of these measures may prove difficult.
Lastly, DAR expresses concern about the implications of the pandemic, and the subsequent measures to restart the economy, for the office in charge of environmental oversight, the OEFA. The OEFA regulates and imposes penalties on companies that infringe environmental rules. DAR also reminds us that OEFA’s ability to provide environmental oversight is now very limited due to recent government measures that allow delays for companies to declare taxes and to pay the sums they give to OEFA to regulate the sector for as long as the state of emergency is in place. These payments, according to DAR, represented three-quarters of the entire budget of OEFA for 2019. This raises the whole question of OEFA’s capacity to conduct oversight and environmental control over extractives.