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Decentralized Environmental Management

 Thailand CDP (2.6mb pdf)

    thailand cdp
In order to tackle local problems in a more sustainable manner, governments need to find ways to effectively decentralize environmental management. However, the decentralization process currently taking place in several countries in the region evokes both enthusiasm and apprehension. Devolution of power from central to local governments offers the opportunity to tackle local problems in a more sustainable manner, but the transition will be complex and uncertain. Governments that have operated with a top-down approach may find it difficult to support local-level democratization—a process that will require strong institutions, flexible administrative instruments, effective participatory mechanisms, and empowered local officials and communities.

Whether the drive toward decentralization leads to more sustainable resource use or invites serious environmental degradation will depend to a large extent on whether decentralization goes forward with or without adequate capacity building, environmental regulations, and willingness to enforce them. The greatest short-to-medium-term opportunity created by the decentralization process arises due to the increased proximity of environmental and other decision-making processes to affected communities, and the potential to improve local accountability and integrated planning. Yet, environmental issues often cross not only sectors but also jurisdictional responsibilities. Higher level institutional arrangements, such as provincial/national regulators, river-basin or airshed management agencies, inter-community agreements, and user associations or municipal consortia may be needed to adequately address environmental issues that local agencies are not willing or able to tackle.

Almost all EAP countries are attempting to decentralize the management of the environment and natural resources, to some extent. Examples of World Bank work to support this process include:

The World Bank has developed a new, knowledge sharing based, relationship with Thailand and engagement in the environment sector is set out in the Thailand Country Development Partnership - Environment (CDP-E). This document provides a framework for improving environmental quality and developing appropriate environmental management structures. The CDP-E sets out World Bank support for environmental management including an icreasing focus on decentralized management systems in priority watershed areas.

Beginning in January 2001, Indonesia changed from being one of the world’s most centralized countries, to one of the world’s most decentralized public administrations. Changes of this magnitude are placing unprecedented, new pressures on all aspects of district environmental management. Given the existing weak environmental capacity, lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities for environmental management between the different tiers of government, and of adequate incentives for environmental protection, the World Bank is playing a crucial role in developing capacity and management systems in to address environmental concerns in a decentralized way.

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