Located in the heart of West Africa, Burkina Faso, a Sahel country is among the group of least-developed countries. With a population of more than 14 million of whom more than 80% live on activities directly or indirectly related to land, the country of upright people, like other Sahel countries, is confronted to emerging environmental problems. Agricultural techniques, large and systematic use of wood as source of energy in rural areas and the mining boom these past years coupled with uncontrolled development of artisanal mining and the growing industrial mining , are intensifying global warming and causing major concern to this country’s political authorities.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, each year, Burkina Faso is losing 32,000 hectares of forests due to slash-and-burn agriculture.
In order to respond to the pressing need to warrant the populations and future generations a healthy and enjoyable environment, and to regulate human activities which are posing real or threats to the ecological balance, the National Assembly, during its plenary session held on April 2, 2013, passed the bill containing the Environment Code of Burkina Faso. This law has been passed to replace the Code of 1997 which was deemed inadequate in view of the new environmental challenges.
This new law contains 5 titles and 148 articles, while the former law also contained 5 titles, but 104 articles. In reality, the new Code aims to protect human beings against harmful effects or nuisances and risks that hinder and jeopardize their existence due to environment degradation, and to improve their living conditions.
Ten years down the line, the Code of 1997 has been marred with deficiencies barely meeting the emerging environmental problems since it does not provide for all basic principles of the Environmental Law, the prevention and management of natural and technological disasters, environment emergency response funds, environment police , and others.
Therefore, to comply with new requirements to protect the environment, the Assembly passed the law of April 2, 2013 which contains many major innovations such as:
- the recognition, even the implementation of some basic rights such as the right to a healthy environment, the right to access information on the environment and the right to participate in decisions regarding surrounding environment;
- the recognition of five basic principles of the right of environment, namely principles for prevention, care, polluter-pays & sampler-pays principles and principles of sustainable development;
- the submission of policies, plans and programmes to environmentally strategic assessments, and to the institution of environmental inspections ;
This new law reflects Members of Parliament’s commitment and interest to environmental issues and their concern about the mechanisms to be deployed by the Government to implement thereof.
Many texts to enforce this new Code are still in the administration pipeline awaiting adoption in order to supplement regulatory arrangements for adequate implementation thereof.
The new Code will soon be published and translated in local languages. Today, it is a legal framework conducive to better environmental protection and sustainable socio-economic development.