Peruvian President Alan García has passed a bill to create the environment ministry. It will be headed by two deputy ministers: one for strategic development of natural resources (including the rainforest), and the other for environmental management.
The creation of the ministry came on the eve of a joint Latin American and European Union summit expected to focus on climate change. Peru’s glaciers, which are a source of water for the arid Pacific coast, where almost three-quarters of Peru’s population live, may disappear within 25 years as a result of climate change. The loss of glaciers in the Andes mountain range is threatening the water supply of 30 million people in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
Critics say the new ministry has been hastily put together (in just one month) in time for the summit and because it was a requirement of a bilateral trade deal with the US. They also say it lacks decision-making powers in key areas.
Although the ministry’s responsibilities will include for monitoring of industrial wastewater emissions and industrial water use, it will not have authority over water management. The government wants the Agriculture Ministry to be in charge of water, through the recently created National Water Authority.