Ver Angola

Environment

Angola prepares legislation to guard against risks in resource exploitation in protected areas

The government acknowledged Monday that the exploration of mineral resources, oil and gas in conservation areas "is a sensitive issue" and "carries potential risks" to nature, assuring that an additional and special legislative package will be prepared.

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According to the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Environment, Jomo Fortunato, in parallel to the existing legislation that governs the petroleum activity, the executive will prepare an additional and special legislative package to safeguard the environment.

The referred legislative package "should guarantee that the good international practices should be assumed by all those who eventually intervene in the petroleum exploration process in the environmental conservation areas.

"The government understands that the exploration of mineral resources, oil and gas is a sensitive issue, as well as the issues related to the environment, because they concern the life of all Angolans and, in a broader vision, the breathing of the planet", said Jomo Fortunato.

He was speaking on Monday, in Luanda, at the opening of the Forum on Oil Exploration in Environmental Conservation Areas, promoted by the National Agency of Oil, Gas and Biofuels (ANPG).

The government put under public discussion the Law on Environmental Conservation Areas, approved in April 2020, which allows the exploration of mineral resources and oil in conservation areas.

The initiative is contested by environmentalists and civil society actors who have already sent the Government a petition defending the safeguarding of the protected areas due to their sensitivity.

Accessibility, technical and environmental impact studies are being carried out in some protected areas, such as the Cassange inland basins, located in the provinces of Malanje and Uige, and the Etocha-Okavango in the provinces of Cunene, Cuando-Cubango and Moxico, aiming at resource exploitation.

The need to "find consensus", based on a perspective of balance between development and preservation of environmental potential, which, when realized, will have "advantages and benefits" was advocated by Jomo Fortunato.

The implementation of social projects and funding opportunities for conservation programs in the areas to be explored, support for conservation projects, preservation and management of conservation areas are pointed out as advantages of this exploration.

The incentive to the local economy, through the generation of more direct and indirect jobs with the development of ecotourism, the improvement in the management of the conservation areas with the acquisition of adequate means and equipment are other benefits, according to the authorities.

The executive, said the governor, "is aware that the possibility of resource exploration in environmental conservation areas potentially carries risks", assuring, therefore, that the environmental impact assessment regulations will be "reinforced and improved".

"It is important to highlight that in this process, the exploration and research activities aim, in a first phase, to collect information and geological studies, in order to determine the existing mining or oil potential in these areas," noted Jomo Fortunato.

The Minister of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, Diamantino Azevedo, emphasized that the meeting is the "continuation of a platform for dialogue" between the executive and members of civil society on issues related to petroleum activities.

Conducting studies and research in environmental conservation areas "is of capital importance for the country, because addressing them in open forums will allow for clarification to those present and to all those who follow this theme.

"The sensitivity of the interest at stake forces the search for balanced solutions that always allow protecting the environment, but that also create opportunities for economic and other activities to improve the living conditions of the populations," Diamantino Azevedo pointed out.

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