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Positioning on changes in the Brazilian Environmental Licensing regulatory framework

The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture considers that the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory processes conducted by the Brazilian State are central elements for the greater dynamism of the economy and the construction of a more prosperous, fair and sustainable development model, generating employment and income.

For this purpose, the process of reviewing the environmental licensing regulatory framework, which is already underway, should aim to stimulate economic activity in line with the preservation of socio-environmental assets and the commitments made by Brazil in the international negotiations on climate change and biodiversity conservation.

A new licensing regulatory framework should be based on transparency, efficiency and sustainability, guaranteeing legal certainty and predictability for economic agents, without causing damage to the preservation of the environment. It should also be combined with a long-term planning that considers the comparative advantages of the different regions of Brazil and incorporates the technologies for a competitive, sustainable and low-carbon economy.

In this sense, we understand that the Environmental Licensing General Law should be supported by the following principles and guidelines:

(i) federal legislation should establish national criteria for environmental licensing procedures, in order to standardize the process, reducing legal uncertainty and discretion among federative entities;

(ii) the licensing process, including cases with licensing exemption, should be defined in a standardized way, based on an updated analysis of the frameworks of the activities subject to environmental licensing and the socio-environmental fragility or importance of the place of the enterprise;

(iii) activities and enterprises involving the suppression of native vegetation must undergo the environmental licensing process, without jeopardizing the compliance with the procedures established to obtain the respective authorizations and the restrictions provided in current legislation;

(iv) environmental licensing should be structured so as to facilitate integration with other territorial management systems, such as the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), the Environmental Regularization Program (PRA), the Ecological-Economic Zoning, the maps of the Priority Areas for Conservation, Sustainable Use and Benefit Sharing of Brazilian Biodiversity and municipal legislation on land use and occupation. It should also consider other existing requirements, such as the Forest Code;

(v) the current lists of frameworks for activities subject to environmental licensing should be reviewed as they are outdated and have imperfections, such as establishing that any forestry activity regardless of size and location should be qualified as a project of significant environmental impact;

(vi) ensure legal certainty so that the activities exempted from licensing, due to their location or nature, have this right respected;

(vii) the environmental licensing process should be based on the principle of transparency, and the National System of Environmental Information (SINIMA) should make available technical references of the studies already presented, allowing the use of existing diagnoses in the case of enterprises located in the same area of influence of processes already licensed;

(viii) maintenance of the obligation to hold a public hearing whenever the environmental licensing process is established based on the Environmental Impact Study (EIA), in accordance with current legislation, in order to guarantee the participation of the populations potentially affected by the enterprise;

(ix) definition of deadlines for all stages of the licensing, in order to ensure predictability of the process, guaranteeing to license(s) applicants and to the society better monitoring capacity from investors and society;

(x) investments in technical training, human resources and infrastructure in the environmental agencies responsible for licensing activities, in order to guarantee the quality of the processes and compliance with legal deadlines;

(xi) establishment of minimum institutional capacity criteria that should be verified by the municipalities interested in assuming the environmental licensing processes; and,

(xii) definition of objective criteria for licensing procedures in federal legislation and their respective regulations, in order to reduce the discretionary power of the licensing body.

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