Panel chief upbeat following final public hearing on reform plan for natural resources management and environment

national December 18, 2017 19:47

By The Nation

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Mechanisms to follow up the reform plan for natural resources management and the environment will be developed and put in place to ensure implementation and public participation, Dr Choochai Supawongse, chair of the natural resources and environment reform committee’s public-hearing panel, said.



Mechanisms to follow up the reform plan for natural resources management and the environment will be developed and put in place to ensure implementation and public participation, Dr Choochai Supawongse, chair of the natural resources and environment reform committee’s public-hearing panel, said.

He told the Nation at the last public hearing on the reform plan over the past weekend that community leaders would be invited to take part in the future workshops to help figure out the mechanisms, which would possibly include new platforms where concerned parties in all regions could meet and work together.

“Environmental issues concern everyone and have impacts on everyone, so we need to work together to ensure that the damaged environment is rehabilitated and preserved better than ever,” he added.

Dr Choochai at the weekend forum heard intensive calls for public participation in environmental reforms. 

The meeting – the last of six forums held in all regions since last month – introduced the committee’s detailed sub-plans, which cover all six reform issues, plus activities to move forward, as well as indicators of success.

It was attended by around 300 invited parties, of which 80 per cent were community leaders there to help represent the voices of people from their localities.

Besides recommendations to change some proposals that had been introduced, attendees extensively suggested participation in the management of natural resources. 

For instance, participants from the land resources group suggested participation and increased roles for communities in managing resources, including the forests. The water resources group made a similar suggestion for increasing the roles of communities in managing water resources.

Buntoon Srethasirote, chair of the committee’s environmental management panel – a cross-cutting body of all groups – said public participation had actually been addressed in the reform plan, and additionally, the roles of private entities would be boosted to ensure the nation’s environmental sustainability. 

To materialise public participation and decentralisation in this regard, new laws would be promulgated, including a community rights bill, he said.

To ensure that reform in regard to the environment does not lose its way, sustainable-development goals will be applied as a framework for the plan, he added.

Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, the committee’s vice chair, said the committee had been trying to connect all possible natural resources as well as environmental management in the plan, but it could not put everything into a single plan. 

The issues need to be selective, and must be reform issues, otherwise the work would be too loaded and not go anywhere, he insisted.

Theerapat said besides the committee, which is one of 13 appointed under the national reform law, there would be the national strategy committee to help look at the big picture, which would allay concerns that the reform would not be accomplished.

Dr Choochai said contributions from the forums would be included in the plan before it was submitted to the government at the end of this month. The plan is expected to be in effect by April next year, he added.

The public hearing panel chair also said that despite time limits for the hearings, participants’ contributions could indeed help shape the direction of reform, as a number of them were experienced figures. 

The issues they have helped the panel reflect upon are structural, which points to the need for structural solutions, which is indeed the same when it comes to reform matters, he said.

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