(2015-06-10) The discovery of large deposits of coal and gas in Mozambique is worrying Mozambican environmentalists who are demanding new laws and greater involvement of civil society.
The exploitation of gas and coal brings new environmental risks and the behaviour of multinationals should be supervised, because the impacts are already visible in the construction of new access routes or in the expulsion of local communities.
“Our legal culture our demand for these instruments, they have to be a reality and not just rhetoric,” says environmentalist Carlos Serra.
“In this regard we are still failing,” also stresses Daniel Ribeiro, head of programmes for the Mozambican organisation ‘Justiça Ambiental’ (Environmental Justice).
“There is still much we can improve in our laws. But the focus now is trying to put into practice what we have that is good,” he says.
With the discovery of massive ores in the past decade, Mozambique is experiencing a ‘boom’ of natural resources that has created, “in some sectors of society, a kind of fever that does not realise that the road can be dangerous,” says Carlos Serra.
Multinationals operating in the field are accused of violating the rights of communities living in areas of natural resources and of criminal environmental practices. In addition, another sector causes concern to environmentalists: the forestry industry, where the country has “failed miserably,” according to Carlos Serra.
“In the forests we fail miserably; we were not able to implement what we approved as a legal framework. We allowed the operation of cutting and trading of forest resources. We allowed operators to award contracts to those who have no profile to operate in the country. We allowed cuts in the sustainable quotas that allow natural regeneration of our resources,” he laments.
“The sustainable usage and management of air, land, water and subsoil resources, the maintenance of biodiversity in harmony with the needs of national development” are some of the strategic objectives of the Five-Year Government Programme (2015-2019), the Executive’s commitment to focus on finding solutions to the challenges and obstacles that hinder economic and social development of the country.
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