V. CONSIDERATION OF MULTILATERAL TRADE AND ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS IN DOMESTIC POLICY FORMULATION
1. Policy responses to public sector development projects
In Sri Lanka, policy responses to Agenda 21, in relation to public sector development projects (which are generally medium to large-sized projects covering all sectors of the economy), are coordinated by the Department of National Planning. The environmental aspects are being integrated into economic development, through the requirement for public sector project sponsoring agencies to assess their impacts on the environment and natural resources at a very early stage in the development and screening process of such projects (chapter II).
Initial screening is carried out in respect of water, air and coastal pollution, solid and hazardous waste, soil and land degradation, groundwater extraction, impacts on fauna, flora, wetlands and human health, relocation, impacts on historical and cultural assets or values, landscape or scenic effects and urban congestion. Project benefits and impacts on natural resources and environmental management (in terms of the net effect on the environment and the natural resource base) are also assessed, together with other parameters, in determining the overall benefits and impacts of a project.
Mechanisms are being developed by the Department of National Planning to further improve the assessment process for public sector projects. The Department is understood to have submitted a project proposal to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a view to obtaining assistance for the development of skills, expertise and manuals as well as international expertise in identifying priorities and mapping out measures, keeping in mind the need to achieve a suitable balance between the priorities of development, poverty alleviation and environmental concerns.