III. MECHANISMS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS INTO SECTOR POLICIES AND FOR MONITORING 20
B. Strengths, weaknesses, advantages and constraints of coordinating mechanisms
Although the Environmental Council of CEA still functions as the representative body of all line ministries related to the tea sector, its effectiveness as a policy decision-making and coordinating body appears to have been seriously eroded. On the other hand, the coordination and resolution of policy issues between the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the other line ministries of the sector is undertaken through interministerial coordinating committees convened by the Ministry. According to CEA officials, the policy issues related to the Framework Convention on Climatic Change have been dealt with through the mechanism of the Committee. In such instances, CEA appears to have played a recommending role rather than a role of directly resolving policy issues between other ministries. However, the functional advantage of the coordinating committee mechanism over the Environmental Council is not clear.
Regarding the coordination between the central and provincial administrations, experience appears to demonstrate that the option exercised by a Provincial Council to enact its own Environmental Act and related institutional structures could create several operational constraints. That is because the Provincial Councils still lack the necessary expertise and other resources to undertake environmental functions independently. In such a situation, coordination between the central and provincial administrations also becomes very difficult. However, according to CEA officials, because the Centre is constrained by a dearth of resources from carrying out its full range of functions covering the entire island, the system becomes advantageous if the policy and functional areas related to environmental issues are clearly demarcated and shared between the central and provincial administrations.
Although not appearing to cause noteworthy constraints at present, the fact that the Provincial Councils are not represented in the coordinating structures of CEA could create discrepancies in the norms of implementation with regard to environmental regulations
in the provinces, as they may enhance to the different degrees of environmental standards set by CEA under the national laws. Effluent discharges into natural water bodies arising out of processing activities provide one example. Such variations may cause unwarranted difficulties for certain processing activities in relation to their conceived impact on natural resources.
Discussions with CEA officials revealed that although CEA delegates certain functions to the local authorities (e.g., the issue of EPLs to low-polluting processing activities such as the tea sector), constraints sometimes arise because there is no continuity among implementing officials at the local authority level, leading to lacunae with regard to the awareness of the issues involved.