Sao Tome and Principe

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe (STP) has taken steps to identify additional mitigation measures that can contribute to the reduction of national GHG emissions. The implementation of measures, both for adaptation and mitigation, requires financial resources, access to technology and capacity building, through external assistance. The state of Sao Tome and Principe has a legal and institutional framework to manage and respond to challenges on environmental issues- chief among these is the Ministry of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment, through the General Directorate of Environment (DGE) and the National Institute of Meteorology (NIM).

Featured Legislation

1999: The Environmental Law No. 10/99 was passed. This Law is composed of six Chapters divided in 67 articles. It provides the basic legislation on environmental protection and sustainable development. It affirms the right to the environment and lists the basic principles such as prevention and precaution, ecosystems’ carrying capacity, adequate management and use, participation and access-to-information, user-pays and polluter-pays. The Law defines objectives and measures to be implemented in the environmental policy. Moreover, it classifies environmental components, dividing natural components and human-originated components (i.e. landscape, pollution). It also defines the main tools and procedures to be used by environmental policy, as, for instance, a National Plan for Environment and Sustainable Development, Environmental Impact Assessment and environmental licensing. Finally, the Law defines citizens’ rights and obligations as well as offenses and penalties.

1999: Decree No. 35/99 (establishing the requirements to be satisfied for coastal sand extraction) was promulgated. This Decree establishes the requirements to be satisfied for sand extraction. It consists of 8 chapters and 2 forms establishing the conditions to be observed in order to perform the aforementioned activity within coastal and inland river areas. It concerns licensing, beach selection, environmental impact assessment, sanctions to be paid for illegal activity, etc. The forms list the information to be given in order to obtain a license.

2004: The National Strategy for the Adaptation to Climate Change was created. This National Strategy for the Implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (SNMO/CCMUCC) aims to integrate the climate change dimension into its economic and social development policy. This Strategy comes after the national communication and completes the information on the follow-up of commitments made. The strategic options described are indicative of the country's desire to integrate the climate change dimension in all sectors of national life. In line with the Rio de Janeiro Conference on UNFCCC, this SNMO presents the country's emission and lists a number of priority actions that the country should undertake as soon as possible.

2004: Law No.8/2004 (on Oil Resources) was introduced. This Law, composed of 33 articles divided in six Chapters, regulates management, use and control of national oil resources. In particular, it regulates bank accounts set-up for oil activities purposes, and establishes a permanent fund operating at national level for financing oil extraction and other related activities. Moreover, the Law defines a Policy for Oil Management and Research and regulates monitoring and control activities. Particular attention is paid to tender and concession procedures in oil resources management, requiring transparency and public access to information. Finally, the Law provides applicable sanctions and penalties.

2012: The Decree No.13, was signed, creating the National Committee for Climate Change for the implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

2018: Decree No.27/2018 (approving the National Environmental Sanitation Policy) was created. The General Objective of the National Environmental Sanitation Policy (PNSA) is to preserve the environment and improve the quality of life of the population. The specific objectives are: Ensure equitable, sustainable and universal access to the disposal of fecal sludge, by safe management and to promote the improvement of drainage and solid waste treatment solutions; Significantly reduce defecation in the open air for the next five years; Protect and preserve households, schools, health centers, markets, water resources and ecosystems of all kinds of chemicals; Promote the rapid adoption of best hygiene practices by the population; Create a culture of sanitation, hygiene, solid and liquid waste management in strict respect for the natural environment of individuals, communities and public and private entities. On the basis of these objectives and others that form part of the relevant sections of the Sustainable Development Objectives (ODS), a coherent set of objectives and indicators of progress will be established through national planning by competent government institutions.

2018: The Water Resources Framework Law No. 07/2018 was instituted. This Law, composed of 72 articles divided into thirteen Chapters, establishes the Framework Law for water resources management. It aims at managing and protecting inland water resources of public domain, whether superficial, transitional, coastal, or groundwater waters in order to: a) prevent further degradation and protect and improve the status of aquatic, terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands that are directly dependent on aquatic ecosystems in relation to their water requirements; b) promote sustainable water use, based on long-term protection of available water resources; c) provide enhanced protection and improvement of the aquatic environment, in particular through specific measures for the gradual reduction and phasing out of waste, emissions and losses of priority substances; d) ensure the gradual reduction of pollution of groundwater and prevent its worsening; e) mitigate the effects of floods and droughts; f) ensure the supply of sufficient good quality superficial and groundwater as required for a sustainable, balanced and equitable use of water; g) protect marine waters, including territorial waters; h) ensure compliance with the objectives of relevant international agreements, including those aimed at preventing and eliminating pollution in the marine environment; i) ensure water is used by current and future generations in a rational manner and with satisfactory standards of quality and protection of biodiversity; j) harmonize the use of water with the strategic objectives of social promotion, regional development, district and environmental sustainability; k) implement and ensure prevention and defense measures against environmental damage, critical hydrological events of natural origin or arising from water use; l) ensure the equal and fair distribution of charges and benefits for the use of water; m) promote and strengthen principles of citizenship, self-determination of peoples and solidarity for the construction of a sustainable society.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • While São Tomé and Príncipe do not produce mercury, the nation has been known to import it indirectly by way of various types of equipment used in different sectors of the country which contain mercury inside them. According to the General Directorate of the Environment, materials containing mercury are undermining human health and the environment. Given the danger of mercury for the health of the human population and the environment, São Tomé and Príncipe nationally ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury in 2018: creating an action plan intended to control imports containing mercury by the country, and to regulate its management in São Tomé and Príncipe. An inventory of mercury emissions in São Tomé and Príncipe that took place in July 2017 with the assistance of the United Nations Environmental Program and the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention. Of note, the country would never be able to make progress in advancing its strategy for the ecologically rational management of mercury without the assistance of the international community and focusing on international institutions that are dealing with issues of the environment on an international level. The question now is what role is international law poised to play in regulating the global trade of mercury, preventing the further threats to human security.

References and Further Reading


General Directorate of the Environment, Darnel Hélio de Sousa Baía: