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Following approval on November 22 of the bill to create a national agency, Senace, in charge of evaluating environmental impact studies (EIS), the Peruvian environment ministry (Minam) has up to 90 days to submit a decree outlining a plan and timeline for its implementation.
The implementation of the new agency will include a process of new and old agencies "working together," according to former deputy environment minister José De Echave.
The first few cases will most likely be reviewed by the new agency together with, in the case of mining and energy projects, the mines and energy ministry (MEM), which currently evaluates EISs for those sectors, De Echave told BNamericas.
Senace will be an independent unit of the environmental ministry, and "will maintain autonomy," a congressional aide told BNamericas.
The aide compared the agency''s position as part of Minam to that of Peru''s environmental watchdog, OEFA, which also functions as an autonomous part of the environment ministry.
However, Minam will hold the highest role on Senace''s advisory board, as president. The vice president will be appointed by the economy and finance ministry, with other ministries such as MEM, agriculture, and the health acting as participatory members on the board.
Once an implementation plan is submitted, regulation of the law will begin.
"It could be anywhere from six months to a year, or more, there is no way to really know," the aide said regarding the timeline expected for congress to draw up the regulations associated with the law.
Some players also believe that the creation of Senace may lead to increasing investments in the country by adding more credibility to the evaluation process in the eyes of investors.
"This is the first step in achieving an environmental management independent from the state, and this is how you start to recover credibility among the population," De Echave said in a report on Senace published by NGO CooperAcción, of which he is director.
According to Minam, the initiative will align Peru with other South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela, where EIS evaluation is done by an independent, non-sector specific body.