Federal Law No. 24 for 1999 for Protection and Development of the Environment
This is the most recent piece of federal environmental legislation, following hot on the heels of decrees establishing independent agency-level bodies such as ERWD Ain Abu Dhabi and DEP Ain Sharjah, empowered to undertake research and provide conservation advice. It came into force on 1 February 2000. Drafted by the FEA, this law, which carries 101 articles, is particularly strong in respect of the marine environment, with over 40 articles concerning marine transportation and pollution and the respective penalties applicable to a vessel found in breach of any specified offence. Note that Federal Law No. (23) For 1999, which came into effect in mid-April 2000, after Law No. (24), also concerns, but exclusively so, the marine environment.
Article 2: of Federal Law No. (24) For 1999 for Protection and Development of the Environment outlines the objectives and general principles concerned:
- Protect the environment; preserve its diversity and natural equilibrium.
- Fight all forms of pollution and avoid harmful immediate or long-term adverse effects resulting from planning for economical, agricultural or industrial or constructional development or any development programs aiming to upgrade the standard of living; Agency co-ordination with other concerned authorities and departments in order to preserve the environment, its diversity and the natural equilibrium, and consolidate concepts of environmental awareness and principles of pollution prevention.
- Develop natural resources and preserve the various living species in the UAE and utilize them in an optimal way for the benefit of present and future generations.
- Protect society, the health of human beings and other living creatures from any activities or acts which comprise a risk to the environment or which may impede the lawful use of the environmental milieu.
- Protect the UAE environment from the adverse impact created by external activities.
- Undertake the implementation of international and regional conventions ratified or signed by the State in respect of environment protection, pollution prevention and preservation of natural resources.
Chapter 1, covering Development and Environment (Articles 3 to 16), introduces four sections: Environmental Impact (Section 1); Environment and Sustainable Development (Section 2); environmental Monitoring (Section 3) and Plans for Emergencies and for Dealing with Environmental Disasters (Section 4).
Chapter 2 (Articles 17 to 41) covers the Protection of Water Environments from pollution in both marine and freshwater environments, including potable ground water, while Chapters 3, 4 and 5 deal with Protection of Soil, Protection of Air and Handling of Hazardous Substances and Wastes. Chapter 6 (Articles 63–68) defines the legal requirement for determining the location and boundary of nature reserves in the state.
Liabilities and compensation for environmental damages, Chapter 7 (Articles 71–72) and penalties, Chapter 8 (Articles 73–90), are explicit and apply, all importantly, both within and out with the marine jurisdiction of the UAE, regardless of the nationality of any guilty party concerned. The penalties, involving fines and custodial sentence, extend, in the case of nuclear waste, to the possible imposition of the death penalty.
While the Federal Environmental Agency may be the ultimate authority in respect of the above law, the ‘competent authorities’ in each emirate will be responsible for activating its provisions. In Abu Dhabi one such ‘competent authority’ would be the agency ERWDA, which itself carries a mandate (Law No. (4) For 1996 as amended by Law No. (1) for 1997) to:
. . . Protect the natural environment, its wildlife and its biological diversity through monitoring and submitting of proposals and recommendations and by carrying out studies and research required for the protection of the environment and its wildlife.
Moreover, all Abu Dhabi government departments and agencies:
. . . Are required to coordinate with the Agency [ERWDA] in relation to research, studies and programs concerning environmental matters and wildlife.
. . . The Agency’s approval is required for the issuing of any regulations, policies and decrees related to environmental and wildlife affairs.
Together with a role to evaluate the use of agricultural chemicals, the effect of industrial projects, assess the impact of town planning amongst many others stated objectives, there is, in this particular instance, a complimentary but at least partially overlapping role between the Abu Dhabi agency and the federal body ultimately responsible for matters relating to the environment. It remains to be seen what relationship is developed here, as well as between those competent authorities as exist in emirates other than Abu Dhabi in relation to the above law and to the FEA.
You May also Read: