Opinion

Environmentally friendly- a decent environment

By: Poiya Isaac Lagu, [LLM]

The cardinal principle is that; no country or person (s) could exploit resources in a manner that may hurt another country or people or crops. This principle is in light with article 41 para (1) of the 2011 Transitional Constitution as amended which is one of the source of environmental law in the Republic of south Sudan and I quote “every person or community shall have the right to a clean and healthy environment”. And para (2) states “every person shall have the obligation to protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generation”. Further para (3) also provides “every person shall have the right to have environment protected for the benefit of the present and future generation, through appropriate legislative actions and another measures that; prevent pollution and ecological degradation, promote conservation and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting rational economic and social development so as to protect generic stability and bio-diversity”. And para (4) finally give powers for all government authorities to develop energy policies that will ensure the basic needs of the people are met while protecting and preserving the environment”.

To me; the word environment is the conditions that affect the behaviours and developments of somebody or something. The physical conditions that somebody or something exists in: a pleasant working and learning environment”. And a happy home environment can affect a child’s behavior. You need to create an environment in your country in which productivity should flourish. Do not create an environment of war. The political environment should not be carried out in a controlled environment. Environment in the natural world, “it’s in which people, animals and plants live”: the department of environment measures to protect the environment. Pollution of the environment causes damages to the environment. The legal question shall be, what is the connection of the natural conditions in which people, animals and plants live with the environment-the environmental impact of pollution-environmental issues or problems or an enrionemental group or movement that aims to improve or protect the natural environment. Do we have environmentalist or ecologist in south Sudan-thus a person (s) who are concerned about the natural environment and wants to improve and protect it for future generation?

While; the collocations to environmental damages includes; causes and contribution to climate change and global warming, pollution through corbondioxide or green-house gas emission, destruction of the ecosystems or ozone layer, harm to marine life or wildlife, depletion of natural resources, pollution to waterways such as rivers, log forests or rain forests or trees.

And environmental protection body is an independent body in the executive branch responsible for setting measures to pollution- control standards in the areas of air, water, solid waste, pesticides, radiation and toxic materials, enforcing laws enacted to protect the environment; and coordinating the anti-pollution efforts of states and the local government. While there are ways in controlling these damages, through combating the impacts of climate change, take actions to stop global warming, limit air or water or atmosphere or environmental pollution, reduce pollution from green-house gas emissions, offset corbondioxide emissions, promote sustainable development, conserve biodiversity and natural resources, protect endangered species, prevent or stop soil erosion or over fishing or massive deforestation or damages to ecosystems, raise awareness of environmental issues and save the planet. Also conserve or save waste energy, manage natural resources well, proper dumping or disposal of hazardous products or toxic or nuclear waste, dispose of or throw away litter especially rubbish or garbage or sewage, do recycling or bio-degradable material, recycle bottles or packaging papers or plastic and other waste, use of renewable energy and the need to ensure that environmental considerations are incorporated into economic and other development plans and projects thus principle of integration. Example the construction of the dam on the river Nile in Ethiopia which may reduce the floor of water in Sudan and Eygpt. Hence; interfering with the nature. An International illustration of a case concerning the construction of Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary/ Slovakia) (1998) 37 I.L.M 162. Justice Weeramantry, the then Vice President of International Court of Justice, said; throughout the ages, mankind has for economic and other reasons, constantly interfered with nature. In the past, this was often done without consideration of the effect upon the environment. Owing to new scientific  insights and to growing awareness  of the risks for mankind-for present and future generations-of pursuit of such interventions at an unconsidered and unabated pace, new norms and standards have been developed, set forth in a great number of instruments during the last two decades. Such new norms have to be taken into consideration, and be given proper weight, not only when states contemplate new activities, but also when continuing with activities .There is need to balance the competing demands of development and environmental protection.

Do we have recycling factories in south Sudan? The answer is yes or no. And why do you think most of our road pavements in south Sudan are full of bottles and polythene bags, is it not a harm to our environment-or not stopping the flow of water, we need to also promote, develop and invest in renewable energy by using electricity from renewable sources, reduce our dependence or reliance on fossil fuels-use of charcoal and firewood.

This bring us to environmental law which is defined as “the field of law dealing with the maintenance and protection of environment, including preventive measures and provide clean-up for incidents that harm the environment, most environmental litigation involves disputes with governmental agencies, environmental law is heavily intertwined with administrative law. And in the words of Rabie, a leading South African authority, expressed the view that environmental law is “a potpourri of legal norms encountered in a number of conventional field of laws”. Environmental law is a new and rapidly developing legal discipline coming to the fore in reaction to escalating disquiet with mounting evidence of environmental degradation. In its periodic update of the state of the world’s ecosystems, the World Wide Fund for nature (the WWF), a leading International environmental NGO, warned that humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels, the spread of cities, the destruction of habitats for farmland and over-exploitation of the oceans are destroying the Earth’s ability to sustain life. And that of birds, mammal, reptiles, amphibian and fish population, species have declined by about 40% over the last thirty years.

Conventions and Statutes in the International level shall include; article 38 (1) of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), article 2 (1) of the 1969 Vienna Convention as it is applicable by a way of ratification pursuant to article 57 (d) of the 2011, transitional constitution of south Sudan as amended. It shall be Pacta Sunt Servandi-thus “the way things have always been done-general practice and conscience as per article 30 (e) of the statute for International Court of Justice. This includes; the principle of Estopple and Martens Clause as ratified in the Geneva Convention Act, 2012 of south Sudan and the general principles such as Sustainable Development and Precautionary under the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development-UNCED (Rio Earth Summit), United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention, 1992-UNFCCC. World Conservation Strategy (WCS) and World Commission on Environment Development (WCED).

Uganda has the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA, a body independent responsible with the powers to protect, safeguard and entails rights of citizen to a healthy environment, while in South Africa, there is South African Forest Corporation-SAFC. Which body do you have in south Sudan apart from the Ministry of Agriculture and forestry? And the Juba City Council which implements the local bye-laws safeguarding the environment and safe disposal of waste and rubbish. We need a clean city, an independent body that safeguard, protect and entails rights of citizens in safe disposal of waste and managing a healthy environment.  How many gardens do we have in south Sudan with a good, clean and beautiful environment where citizens can enjoy their leisure times and perform artistic talents for show to the public apart from Nyakuron Cultural Centre and Dr. John Garang Museleum.

Did you ever looked at the degree or percentage of how the ecological footprint or pressure placed by humans on the consumption of renewable natural resources in south Sudan or is it there? If the answer is no, why? In settling these shortcomings, both international and domestic laws should confront the situations either among the poor or rich ones in the contemporary south Sudan although Grotius whose Herculean legal scholarship is still acknowledge today, expressed the view that “the resources of the sea were in exhaustible”.

According to the United Nations Millennium Development goals set the tone to meeting these challenges by setting targets to eight key goals; first aim is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and the seventh is to strive for environmental sustainability by integrating the principle of sustainable development in to the country’s policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources, access to safe drinking water and achieve significant improvement in lives of at least one hundred million slum dwellers by 2020. Are you among the one hundred million people whose life have significantly improved in south Sudan, how many south Sudanese are there who have access to clean drinking water and a healthy accommodation? How can south Sudan achieve this with the economic-thus high inflation rate of south Sudanese Pounds to United States Dollars and civil crisis in the country as there is no peace in the country?

In my own view, we have duties to one another as humans. Biblically, we are to subdue the earth and to rule over living creatures as per Genesis 1:28. Humans have dominions over the natural world. You must act as you pleases with respect to nature. The benefits of the exploration or drilling of oil and mining of gold or uranium or diamond would have to be weight against the costs of loss of natural amenity to humans especially in the Upper Nile region. The government should implement Chapter xiv of the Petroleum Act, 2012 which provides for healthy, safety and protection of the environment especially in areas where petroleum activities are being carried. Including the Mining Act, 2012 which provides for preservation of the natural environment and prevention of pollution under section (121) in the Mining industry and the local government Act, 2009 that create and promote safe and healthy environment as per Section 12 (11) of the objectives of the Local Government.

The Romans say in their maxim sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas, in English meaning “you may use your property in a way which will not harm another” we need to also borrow this principle because it is a good law of environment in south Sudan. It entails inter-generational equity and provides for present and future generations.

Concerns on environment are usually complex and emotive, hypothetically; heavy drilling or exploration of oil and mining in a pristine area may cause a destruction of a dynamic dune system and possible elimination of indigenous vegetation leading to soil erosion. It may be an anathema to the environmentalist, how can you weigh up these conflicting ethical demands to resolve the conflicting values. Biocentrism maintains that “all living things have inherent worth by virtue of their being members of the earth’s community of life. And to an American philosopher Aldo Leopold, Essays on Round River 1996 at 240 “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community, it is wrong when it tends otherwise”.

Therefore, how often do you beautify or decorate the pavement of the roads in South Sudan or do you protect or improve or think of taking a good care of your environment including the city, Juba. Other Towns and your environment in a way that you can have right to enjoy for a healthy living including the other living things surrounding you. It should be noted that the connection between your activities and environmental rights is relevant for the case of south Sudan as one of the developing country including other countries like South Africa, India and Namibia, its’ significance has not been over-ruled on the Supreme Court of Appeal in the case of; Mineral Development, Gauteng Region and Sasol Mining (Pty) Ltd Vs. Save the Vaal Environment and others 1999 (2) S.A 709 (SCA) at 719, which has said “Our Constitution, by including environmental rights as fundamental justiciable human rights, by necessary implication requires that environmental considerations be accorded appropriate recognition and respect in the administrative process in our country”. So, we need to engage the lawyers to play key roles in developing these environmental laws, norms, bye-laws and rules, but sight must not be lost of the significant roles which the scientific community and environmental NGOs play in converting this principle int o reality in South Sudan.

The writer is a practicing Advocate & Commissioner for Oaths, Poiya Isaac & Co. Advocates Law Firm. Office Tel; +211924086970, Email: poiyaisaaclawfirm@gmail.com.

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