Special Feature – GBA and the Case of Legal Synchronization
Experts call for the “creation of a mechanism for legal cooperation in the area of environmental governance” and “collaborative environmental governance” in the Grande Baie region
MB September 2021 Special Report | Macao Green
“On the other hand, the O3 pollution in this region is getting worse every year, which greatly affects the air quality and the health of the people of the Guangdong Bay Area. Hong Kong-Macao ”. The assessment is included in the State of the Environment of Macao Report 2020 published by the Environmental Protection Office (DPSA, the acronym in Portuguese).
Faced with this, the DSPA recommends that studies be carried out on the emission and regulation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and continues to insist on constant control of the recovery of gasoline vapors at service stations, but Macau alone cannot solve anything.
And Macau’s future direction will be shaped by the GBA development plan in all areas, including the environment.
The problem here, as in others, is to reconcile three different legal systems, notably those of mainland China and Macao, with that of Hong Kong, all based on very different models.
“The coexistence of the three legal systems means that the environmental protection laws of each region govern only the respective region, without effect on the other regions”, according to the most comprehensive study on the subject, published in Macau by Feng Zehua and Zhan. Pengwei.
The two Chinese academics add: “Thus, with regard to issues related to the governance of terrestrial and hydrographic basins, the joint governance of coastal and offshore territories and the joint governance of the environmental atmosphere, due to the limits of jurisdiction of the respective environmental protection laws, it is impossible to effectively achieve the expected objectives of joint governance.
Feng and Zhan list several examples: First, “Today, the severe pollution of the waters around Hong Kong and Macao is linked to the daily industrial pollution of the nine upstream cities of Guangdong, so separate law enforcement in these three regions undermine joint governance on environmental issues affecting different cities.
Second, the authors claim that “differences in the application of laws governing ecological and environmental matters are one indicator of the social responsibility assumed by the governments of Hong Kong and Macao to their citizens”, but – stress – they – “in the case of the nine cities of Guangdong, under the leadership of the central government, the emphasis is still on promoting economic development, ignoring the importance of environmental protection, resulting in the adoption various environmental protection measures by the public administration.
Also, regarding the differences in the legal sphere, according to Feng Zehua and Zhan Pengwei, there are non-governmental organizations in Hong Kong and Macao that can take legal action in the public interest for the protection of the human being. environment, while in the nine cities of Guangdong only prosecutors can bring administrative public interest actions in environmental matters, which affects the articulation between the laws of the three regions jointly governing the same issue.
“In short, they conclude, the coexistence of three legal systems is a particularity of ACS, but it is also an obstacle that must be overcome in this type of cooperation, particularly in the area of environmental governance.
The two authors are concerned about the problem “how will it be possible to resolve in the short term the differences resulting from the inequalities of legal positions of the cities included in the ACS”, and therefore propose “the creation of a mechanism of legal cooperation in the environmental governance of ACS.
Another mainland scholar offers a solution with points of contact: “collaborative environmental governance” is the proposition of Ying Ren of the Green Development Law Research Center of the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.
Mr. Ren agrees with “the legal problems existing in the field of environmental monitoring” and therefore “offers countermeasures and suggestions to further improve the support mechanism for environmental monitoring in the Grande Baie region. Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao under the Environmental Protection Act. “
According to Ying Ren, “the adoption of environmental supervision” should be the starting point for “the comprehensive improvement of the systematic guarantee of deep cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.”
Its central questions include two aspects. One “explores the innovation of a collaborative governance system with environmental oversight as a starting point. The other is the dynamic balance between the right to development and the protection of environmental rights.
Cooperation “continued to deepen”
DSPA’s response to Macau AffairsThe question of on the coordination mechanisms within the ACS is laconic, stating only that, on the basis of the Comprehensive Development Plan of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, “cooperation in the field of environmental protection between Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao has continued to deepen, and exchanges and cooperation in various aspects have been strengthened, joint prevention and treatment has been promoted, and they work with a commitment to improve the quality of the environment at regional level.
An example of this cooperation is the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Pearl River Delta Regional Air Monitoring Network, which includes 23 air monitoring stations located in Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macao and designed to monitor six major air pollutants: SO2 (sulfur dioxide), NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), O3 (ozone), RSP (Respirable Suspended Particulates), FSP (Fine Suspended Particulates) and CO ( carbon monoxide).
The network publishes annual reports on monitoring results and long-term pollution trends of the PRD as well as quarterly statistical monitoring results.
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