Institutional Framework

Since the 1990s, the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe has had, within the institutional framework of its governance, a central entity (ministry) responsible for environmental issues.
Different governments have made different combinations of the environment sector with others which has influenced designations and eventually other small internal issues. Within the scope of the government currently in force, the environment sector is integrated into the Ministry of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment (MIRNMA).

Note: Despite the fact that the island of Príncipe is an autonomous region, the decrees of the regional government in terms of the environment, like those of others, are always in coordination with the national guideline.

MIRNMA and/or its predecessors have been deepening their approach to dealing with environmental management, adopting medium to long-term strategies and policies.
The main areas of intervention include policy formulation, general promotion, planning, research/technologies, investment in infrastructure and other relevant areas, regulation, inspection, development of extension/education/awareness actions, etc.
The understanding of the environment as a transversal theme coordinated by MIRNMA has led to the definition of environmental line ministries to integrate other ministries/sectors that deal directly with the main environmental componentsi.e. soil and subsoil, water, air andcomponentes bióticas (flora e fauna). For ease of analysis, in general, these components can also be subdivided into two broad categories: Those that depend directly on natural resources as their main source of raw materials include:
  • Agriculture (land and forests) – which are currently under the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MAPDR).
  • Fisheries (fishing resources) – also under the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development;
  • Mines (mineral resources) – under the responsibility of MIRNMA, although it is a fact that STP practically does not have a significant mining activity, with the exception of oil exploration, which is currently dormant;
  • Public Works (infrastructures) and Housing (water and land) – essentially under the responsibility of MIRNMA
Those components whose outcomes largely depend on the provision of environmental services include:

  • Energy (water, mineral resources, biotic elements for biofuels, etc.) - under the responsibility of the Ministries of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment/Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Tourism (landscape and wildlife) - under the responsibility of the Ministries of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment/Economy and of International Cooperation/Agriculture and Rural Development (Parks)
  • Health (water and infrastructure) – under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health
Currently, the list of environmental ministries includes, but is not limited to:
  • Agriculture: plant and animal production, forests and wildlife, land and cadastre, agricultural irrigation and agricultural research and extension, conservation areas, fisheries management and inspection, fisheries research and technologies;
  • Health: health, including environmental health as part of public health;
  • Mineral Resources/Mining: geology, mines and fossil fuels;
  • Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment: water, buildings, roads and bridges, housing and urbanization; production and distribution of energy (electricity, fuels and renewable energies);
  • Economy and International Cooperation: tourism and the respective hotel industry, as well as intervention in conservation areas related to tourism.
MIRNMA presents itself in practice as a “superministry” that encompasses a variety of sectors and subsectors under its portfolio. Where the General Directorate for the Environment and Climate Action stands out, which plays a crucial role in the formulation of policies, general promotion, planning, research/technologies, , regulation, supervision, development of extension/education/awareness actions. The specific attributions of the DGAAC are:

  1. Ensuring the effective application of laws and other environmental policy instruments, through evaluation and monitoring (most importantly through the Environmental Impact Assessment);
  2. Collaborate in the elaboration of an integrated environmental policy, ensuring multisectoral coordination and supervision;
  3. Create and coordinate the National Environmental Information System and produce statistical indicators;
  4. Accreditation of companies in the environmental area;
  5. Collaborate in defining a waste management policy;
  6. Encourage the development of new technologies in the environmental area;
  7. Coordinate the integration of environmental issues in international relations.
On the other hand, MAPDRA also plays a key role through the Directorate of Forests and Biodiversity (DFB) in the country's environmental institutional framework. sectors in the country. It is the public body responsible for managing the country's forests. According to Law no. 5/2001 - Forest Law in force, the DFB is responsible for establishing guidelines for the conservation and sustainable use of forestry, timber and non-timber resources, that is, the elaboration and implementation of forestry sector policies in the country. In addition to these, the DFB is also responsible for:
  1. Establish the rules for the acquisition of chainsaws, equipment and accessories for forest exploitation and criteria for their circulation in the country
  2. Regulation for Licensing the Import of Madeira,
  3. Supervise and enforce the forestry policy through this Law;
  4. Preparing the regulations and normative instructions required for putting the forestry policy into practice;
  5. Propose agreements, conventions and projects at national and international level that will reinforce the implementation of the forestry policy;
  6. Elaborate and coordinate the national forest plan in view of what I establish;
  8. Coordinate studies to stipulate the creation of a forest exploitation fee, as well as others that may be created;
São Tomé, 26 de Julho de 2023