Consultations on the new Environment Bill to start next month 

The consultation process will start with key stakeholder groups, including Government Agencies and civil societies. The next group is to run public consultations on Rarotonga, before moving to the Pa Enua. NES will accept the submissions and input provided by stakeholders and the public to identify areas in the draft that need strengthening, streamlining or additions.
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The National Environment Service (NES) has completed the first draft of the new Environment Bill to repeal the current Environment Act 2003. NES will begin its consultation process by late June 2024.

NES completed its National Environment Policy (NEP) 2022-32 that was endorsed by Cabinet in 2023. The NEP 2022-32 has given NES the underlying policy framework to commence drafting the new Environment Bill. 

NES is mandated under the Environment Act 2003 to protect, conserve and manage the environment and wildlife in the Cook Islands. It ensures the sustainable use of natural resources, and to control and correct the pollution of air, water and land. 

Whilst the Environment Act 2003 has served NES and the Cook Islands, continuous improvements to addressing gaps and emerging issues in the environment sector requires updating of the environment legislation. These issues have been incorporated into the new bill to strengthen NES’s legislation to deliver effective implementation of its mandate.

The consultation process will start with key stakeholder groups, including Government Agencies and civil societies. The next group is to run public consultations on Rarotonga, before moving to the Pa Enua. NES will accept the submissions and input provided by stakeholders and the public to identify areas in the draft that need strengthening, streamlining or additions. An inclusive process is crucial to ensure this new bill meets the needs of the Cook Islands to protect and conserve its environment for future generations to come.

NES is working closely with Crown Law on the bill. Once the draft has been finalized, approval by cabinet is required before submission to parliament for its readings and passing.

NES will provide more information next month on the draft and consultations.

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About Nes

The National Environment Service is established to protect, conserve and ensure the Cook Islands environment is managed sustainably. The agency is headed by a Director with delegated powers to carry out the functions of the Environment Act 2003.

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