13th July, 2012
KOTA KINABALU: The State government is in the process of formulating a more focused and clear environmental policy for Sabah.
It will be a standard operating procedure by the State government to manage the impact of human on the environment with a view to prevent, reduce or mitigate harmful effects on the environment and natural resources, said Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
He was speaking at the opening of the “Stakeholder Consultation Workshop for Sabah Policy on the Environment”, which was held at the Promenade Hotel here yesterday.
“Many would perhaps ask why we need to formulate an environmental policy when we have several existing legislation pertaining to the protection of the environment such as Environment Protection Enactment 2002, Wildlife Enactment 1997, Sabah Parks Enactment 1994, Sabah Water Resources Enactment 1998, Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000 and Sabah Forestry Enactment 1968, among others.
“Besides that, we have environmental related policies and plans such as Sabah Tourism Master Plan, Sabah Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan, Sabah Agriculture Policy, Sabah Forestry Policy, Sabah Environmental Education Policy, Sabah Wildlife Policy and Action Plan and Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint,” he said.
He explained that the major problem with the existing legal framework was in its sectoral approach in managing the environment.
“This sectoral approach has resulted in the passing of a number of environmental related legislation with its own provision on the environment.
“Besides, policies and plans are also rather specific and sectoral where environmental issues are incorporated in a fragmented manner. Hence, despite these legislation, policies and plans, the environmental degradation continues,” Masidi said.
“The Environmental Policy for Sabah is therefore crucial to serve as a framework and guideline for decision making towards modernisation and industrialisation.
“It serves as a living and reference document for all economic sectors and any other form of development that touches the environmental and natural resources, where monitoring, review and revision of this document are envisaged.
“It will look into the integration of all related aspects such as water and air so that any problems are not dealt with in a fragmented manner as the situation arises,” he said.
“This policy will also highlight the use of different types of instruments such as economic incentives and fiscal-based instruments such as tax-exemptions, tradable permits and fees, whichever relevant and practical to ensure that the policy is effectively implemented and complied with.
“Environmental charges exist in other countries in addition to pollution control regulations and are used to raise revenue as well as encourage environmentally friendly behavior,” he added.
“For instance, Kota Kinabalu City hall may want to impose waste disposal charge to Kayu Madang Landfill so that the revenue collected is used for the management of the landfill.
“Denmark, for example, levy taxes of 95 Danish Krona (US$34) per metric ton on waste delivered to landfills and 160 Danish Krona (US$28) per metric ton on waste delivered to incineration facilities. These taxes raised 527.6 million Danish Krona (US$92.6 million) in 1993,” Masidi said.
“The proposed policy is also geared towards the prevention of externalities such as free rider problem, e.g. factory causing pollution to common resources such as rivers.
“These are examples of externalities around us such as the recent complaint of a laundry mart in Inanam, Kota Kinabalu discharging polluted water into the Inanam River,” he said.
If the river happens to be a water intake point for Kota Kinabalu, the consumers have to pay for the cleaning of water due to the pollution caused by the factory, he added.
Masidi urged companies operating in Sabah such as oil palm mills, rubber and other industries to commit themselves to reducing their environmental impact and create a set of environmental principles and standards and have environmental audit.
In this regard, companies should move towards more efficient production process, adopt cleaner technologies and processes throughout the life cycle of the product in order to minimise waste generation and contribute to maintaining good climatic conditions, he said.
“Cleaner production includes conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw chemicals and reducing the quantity and toxicity of emissions or discharges before they leave the production process.
“And going for voluntary environmental schemes such as eco-labelling, Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) as well as adopting a corporate social responsibility programme,” Masidi said.