Cabinet approves the National Environment Policy 2022-23
The Cook Islands Cabinet approved the National Environment Policy 2022-32 on 17th January 2023 following an extensive period of public and stakeholder consultations since 2019. Under the leadership of the National Environment Service (NES), the NEP 2022-32 is a centerpiece document that binds our commitment to protecting the environment at the national level.
The Policy’s key objectives are to state clear environmental policy instruments in an integrated approach to environmental protection, conservation, and management across all of the Cook Islands. It will drive collaboration and foster strong partnerships across all sectors to meet sustainable development agendas. The Policy provides a framework that guides the development and implementation of a new Environment Act to repeal the 2003 Act and meet the current and emerging needs of the environment sector.
The development of the National Environment Policy began in July 2019 with a comprehensive gaps analysis of existing legislation, policies and regulations relating to environmental management. Consultations followed to include discussions on governance and environmental impact management on land, marine, biodiversity, water, air and climate change, and waste. There were more than 120 consultations conducted with Pa Enua communities, Government agencies, Aronga Mana, and Non-Governmental Organisations. External expertise was obtained from the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP), the Pacific Community (SPC), BECA Group, Tokin and Taylor and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Newly appointed Minister of Environment, the Honourable Albert Nicholas, stressed the importance of the NEP 2022-32 to strengthen our commitment to the environment. The Minister stated “this Policy covers the broad mandate of the Environment Act 2003 while stating the necessary policy instruments that will modernize the laws of the environment in the Cook Islands. It clarifies the role of NES and how we can be fit-for-purpose in today’s changing landscape.”
NES Director Halatoa Fua expressed his gratitude to all those that have contributed to the development of the NEP 2022-32 and thanked the Minister and Cabinet for their consideration. Halatoa noted “we are pleased with the outcome of this Policy as it is testament to the hard work of the NES staff who have been instrumental in this planning for a Ipukarea Tumanava.” Fua further states “NES is ready to translate this into legislation and will be seeking support from agencies in implementing this going forward.”