By Cristian Frers
Environmental policy is understood as the set of rules established to resolve conflicts and regulate interactions between civil society, private companies and the State, in relation to the use, conservation and restoration of the environment. Public action is essential to regulate and control the use of natural resources and environmental functions, in order to avoid overexploitation or inefficient use of environmental assets and achieve environmental sustainability.
It is increasingly alarming how every day they appear in newspapers, visual communications media, television in any part of this world Earth, news about environmental disasters, many devastating ones, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, where there are a large number of victims, all this, due to the problem of the environment, the greenhouse effect, the deterioration that has been taking place on this planet for years.
This reality, although in recent years has been a concern of governments, especially first world countries, the achievements in favor of the protection of the environment have not yet achieved their true objective, such as holding countries accountable to prevent further deteriorating, that the way in which markets and their interests seriously affect the environment is respected, being more interested in economic profits, benefits, than in the preservation of the environment.
Environmental policy is understood as the set of rules established to resolve conflicts and regulate interactions between civil society, private companies and the State, in relation to the use, conservation and restoration of the environment. In other words, it is the set of objectives, principles, criteria and general guidelines for the protection of the environment of a particular society. It is based on the fact that public action is essential to regulate and control the use of natural resources and environmental functions, in order to avoid over-exploitation or inefficient use of environmental assets, that is, to achieve environmental sustainability. And in this direction, it tries to find institutional arrangements and action measures capable of obtaining an objective of use of natural resources and environmental quality through the individual and rational decisions of the agents that use the resources.
States must enact effective laws on the environment. In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection must be an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation. When there is a danger of serious or irreversible damage to the environment, and in the absence of absolute scientific certainty, states should widely apply the concept of precaution. National authorities must seek to internalize environmental costs and use economic instruments, taking into account the criterion that the polluter should, in principle, bear the costs of pollution. The evaluation of the environmental impact of any proposed activity should be adopted as a national tool. Peace, development and protection of the environment are interdependent and inseparable.
Public management is essential to regulate and control the use of natural resources and environmental functions and thus guarantee environmental sustainability and quality of life. The States materialize these purposes in policy instruments, which can be direct regulation, administrative and planning, economic and educational, information, research and technical assistance.
In all of them there are policies related to all the instruments mentioned; however, emphasis is placed on economic ones, due to the logic of the prevailing economic model, which leaves the fate of the environment, social equity and poverty reduction to the market.
The effects accumulated over the years and the reduction of productive opportunities due to the misuse of natural resources, can hardly be overcome in the short term. Our attention must focus on stopping the trends of ecological deterioration and laying the foundations for moving towards sustainable development.
Our challenge is, society and the State, to fully assume the responsibilities and costs of a lasting use of renewable natural resources and the environment that allows a better quality of life for all, promotes the overcoming of poverty, and contributes to an economy that does not degrade its natural bases of support. In the coming years we will require a productive expansion that lays the foundations to create jobs and expand the supply of goods and services demanded by a growing population. For this reason, the environmental policy and the use of resources will go beyond a strictly regulatory attitude and will also constitute a process of promotion and induction of investments in environmental infrastructure, the creation of markets and financing for sustainable development. In this way, we will be able to make economic growth compatible with environmental protection.
The protection of the environment and the guidelines for the management of natural resources, requires the existence of laws, decrees, resolutions and regulations that establish: policies compatible with sustainable development; administrative procedures; adequate and integrated control systems; the clear determination of the enforcement authority and decision mechanisms and / or conflict resolution; the processes of evaluation, review and periodic modifications, in accordance with the requirements of the environment, the development and advances of science and technology; guidelines and procedures for community participation; among other measures.
Environmental policy in Argentina is a public policy of national and mandatory application, in accordance with the provisions of the General Environmental Law.
A public policy occupies the highest rank in the hierarchy of norms. Specific laws and regulations are derived from it. Its wording should reflect this characteristic and not appear to be a list of pending actions.
The main victims of environmental problems are the most vulnerable people and the poorest populations in society. Furthermore, the extent of ecological imbalances supports extremely negative forecasts about the future of the planet.
The lack of a rationally articulated environmental policy that progressively removes the causes of imbalances and tempers their effects, exacerbates the problem. Unfortunately, the ecological problem is not a priority for the authorities and this is reflected in the insufficiency of protected areas and in the lack of intervention in key issues.
The environmental problem goes far beyond a landscape issue as they perversely want to convince us. I am going to give a very concrete example. A protected area is created, for example a national park, and we create a management committee, where the national park is represented, where the local communities are represented, where the guild of park rangers is represented, where the province is represented, and where it is. the municipality represented, all on equal terms. And we say in the law: "this park is going to be managed by consensus."
It means that if there were only one of the corporate components that did not agree, the consensus would be broken and the park could not be managed. This is a way of handing over the authority of the State, this is a way for the State to lose its role in democracy, this is to destatize in front of the corporations, which are not bad, which are legitimate, but which represent particular interests and not the national interest.
The result of this neglect of the State is an alarming situation with millions of people enduring its consequences unjustly and unworthily and with their basic Human Rights systematically violated.
We only have to repeat tirelessly that if the environmental issue is not transformed once and for all into a true matter of State, that it runs through the entire public administration, and insists on perversely prioritizing concentrated economic interests over environmental rights, only we will once again be frustrated not only as citizens but as environmentalists.
It is essential to draw up an adequate observation network to monitor the set of required indicators and, based on this, specify a comprehensive strategy for caring for the environment. It is to be hoped that the political decision will be made to finally give priority to environmental problems.
Policies and actions regarding the environment and natural resources will be based on new schemes of co-responsibility and social participation, improving information to society and strengthening the current forms of citizen co-responsibility in public policy.
The success of these strategies will depend on the formation of a culture of prevention, sustainable use of our resources and improvement of the quality of life, raised as one of the main tasks shared between the State and society, where education, training and education are privileged. the communication.
Cristian Frers - Senior Technician in Environmental Management and Senior Technician in Communication