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INTERVIEW

Philippe MARTIN,

Ecology minister


On 22 July, you signed the second Onema Statement of objectives. Why is that important in your opinion and what are the main priorities?

The Statement of objectives lays out the work for Onema over the next six years. It reasserts the agency's central role in the fields of water and aquatic environments and in public policy thanks to its scientific and technical know-how and its in-depth knowledge of aquatic environments.

Among the subjects at the heart of the document are the consolidation of the national water information system and the gradual availability of all data on water, its use and aquatic environments. Restoration of good water status will also depend on reinforced inspections on the observance of water regulations. It is notably through effective inspections and penalties that water regulations will produce results. To that end, the ordinance (11 January 2012) that just came into force on 1 July is an important step because it simplified and clarified the organisation of the water and nature police forces, and it created the position of environmental inspector.

I should also mention the financial efforts made by Onema in favour of the overseas territories, an essential mission to ensure application of the European directives throughout the country.

How will the measures announced following the environmental conference held on 20-21 September interact with the assessment of public policy and how will they affect Onema?

The discussions during the Water round-table session at the second environmental conference were informative and fruitful, thanks in particular to the preparatory work, for example the water-policy assessment carried out in the framework of the effort to modernise public policy, under the responsibility of the General council for the environment and sustainable development. The governmental road map produced by the round table is in line with and reinforces the objectives set by Onema, i.e. reduce the sources of nonpoint-source pollution, improve management of wetlands and the ecological continuity of rivers in order to achieve good status of water bodies, ensure the quality and reliability of water data, facilitate access to and understanding of data by the general public, increase support for overseas territories in their efforts to improve access to drinking water and sanitation, etc. As the second Statement of objectives makes clear, Onema is a key player in enabling us to reach those goals.

The Biodiversity law currently being drafted will likely create a French biodiversity agency. How will the future agency implement the targets laid out in the Onema Statement of objectives?

The Biodiversity law to create the agency will be presented to the Council of ministers by the end of 2013, the goal being to have the Biodiversity agency up and running by the start of 2015.

As I said, the objectives listed in the Onema Statement of objectives are essential to making progress. They fit perfectly with the role that we want to see played by the future Biodiversity agency.

Similar to ADEME in the energy field, the agency will serve as a resource centre for water and biodiversity (acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, science advice, consulting) for both public and private stakeholders. It will also provide financial assistance to local governments, environmental-protection groups and companies for projects to restore biodiversity. Further tasks will concern the environmental police.

The incorporation of Onema in the Biodiversity agency will thus be an opportunity for the personnel to participate in the creation of the major institution desired by the President of the Republic and whose mission will be to preserve and restore the good ecological status of terrestrial, aquatic and maritime environments.

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Photo : Laëtitia Boutet-Berry – Onema

 

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