Chapter 4. Society and environment

Peru has reduced poverty, inequality, malnutrition and environmental health impacts over the past decade while improving access to water and energy services, although there is still room for improvement in all these areas. This chapter reviews Peru's efforts and achievements in the field of environmental democracy, in terms of public participation in decision-making and access to environmental justice and information. Finally, it discusses measures to improve environmental education and raise public awareness of environmental issues.


Key findings and recommendations

The geographical conditions prevailing in Peru, along with the country’s socioeconomic structure and activities and its population distribution, underpin a strong relation between environmental health and conditions and quality of life. Environmental variations and changes affect living conditions and economic and production activities of all kinds. Environmental pollution is having a major impact on the prevalence of acute diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections. There has been a heightened frequency of emergencies caused by natural phenomena, which increased by 54.6% between 2003 and 2013 related to climatic variability.

While the poverty rate has dropped sharply (from 52.5% in 2003 to 23.9% in 2013), inequality measured by the Gini coefficient has improved much more slowly (edging down from 0.49 in 2004 to 0.44 in 2013). The poverty rate in rural areas is three times its urban counterpart. Moreover, in rural areas, basic utilities are in short supply, and water is consumed from unsafe sources and under inappropriate conditions. This persistent inequality is accentuated among the rural population; and it is even worse among vulnerable social groups, such as indigenous peoples (primarily the Quechua and Aymara groups and those of Amazonian origin), who are also the most exposed and vulnerable to environmental conditions, especially those stemming from natural events. Peru displays severe social and living-standard disparities, caused particularly by geographical isolation. These, together with Peru’s investment dynamics and a growth model that relies heavily on natural resource exploration and extraction, have driven rural and semi-urban dwellers to migrate to the coastal cities, which offer better prospects in terms of living conditions and infrastructure.

On the education front, the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) has been working with the Ministry of Education (MINEDU) to promote the environmental-culture, education and citizenship component of the National Environmental Policy. Education in eco-efficiency has been encouraged since 2011 through the Environmental Education Project, whose purpose is to ensure that schools foster knowledge, values and practices that are in harmony with the environment. Efforts in this area are supplemented by the National Prize for Environmental Citizenship, introduced in 2009, and by other initiatives at the university level. Nonetheless, there are still major hurdles to be overcome before the country has an education policy that incorporates environmental contents in a programmatic and permanent way into school systems. Practical actions are also needed in the domain of non-formal education, with a view to building an environmentally more responsible citizenry that is aware of the importance of the environment for the quality of life. This is particularly true for social groups that are vulnerable to climate change or to the externalities generated by works or projects. Information and communication technologies can play a key role in raising social awareness on this issue.

Peru has made major efforts to improve access to information held by the Government and to ensure its transparency; and, in particular, to generate and systemise environmental information and make it more widely available. The Transparency and Access to Public Information Act (Law 27806 of 2003), which is binding on public institutions of the Peruvian State, has expanded conditions for citizen oversight and accountability, while also laying the foundations for transparency in public affairs. With specific reference to the environment, the National Environmental Management System (SNGA), created by law in 2004, together with the National Environmental Information System (SINIA), has provided the basis to facilitate free and open access to environmental information, through a primarily Internet-based service. The number of visits to the system has been growing steadily since its creation; however it is still not widely known or used by the public at large. At the regional and local levels, steps have also been taken to create and implement environmental information systems with MINAM support. However, these efforts have been insufficient.

Environmental understanding, awareness and involvement among the general public is hindered in some cases by a lack of information, and the fact that what is available is provided only irregularly and in a non-standard and non-comparable format, and has to be sought from scattered sources. Problems of access to environmental information, especially for people affected by projects and construction work, and those vulnerable to climatic impacts, can be blamed on many factors: lack of technology, the communication language used in a multilingual country, the capacity of the public to assimilate technical information, and territorial isolation, among others. The system therefore needs to be strengthened at all three levels of government administration —national, regional or departmental and local— to promote citizen participation and raise awareness on the prevention of pollution, environmental degradation, and natural disasters. District and local government capabilities also need to be strengthened, as these entities are the targets of most complaints about lack of information and transparency.

Peru has also adopted legislative and administrative measures to enhance citizen participation in decisions that have environmental implications. Of particular note is the Prior Consultation Act (Law 29785) of 2011, which regulates the process of consulting indigenous communities on activities in their territories, reflecting the provisions of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of the International Labour Organization (ILO Convention No. 169). To date, 22 prior consultations have been held or are under way —most of them relating to the energy sector and the environment. At the government level, recognising the sharp increase in socio-environmental conflicts (up by 300% over the period 2010-2015, according to the Office of the Ombudsman), the Ministry of the Environment created the Advisory Office on Socio-environmental Matters in 2011, with a view to managing, preventing and transforming socio-environmental conflicts by creating mechanisms for dialogue between the disputing parties and by proposing strategies for resolving them. The Advisory Office is supplemented by the National Office for Dialogue of the President of the Council of Ministers, which fosters co-ordination and dialogue between sectors and across government levels in dealing with various social conflicts.

Despite these efforts, citizens still have few opportunities to influence environmental decisions. The mechanisms that exist for participation in traditional instruments, such as the environmental impact assessment and territorial governance processes, need to be strengthened and broadened to ensure that the opinions of potentially affected social groups are heard before a project or activity is launched. The quantity, frequency and intensity of socio-environmental conflicts, the diversity of stakeholders involved in them, and the resulting economic and social effects (which increased sharply during the period under analysis) are also a reflection of a set of unmet needs that go beyond the strictly environmental and are rooted in the country’s egregious inequalities.

With regard to the application of environmental justice in Peru, Law 29263 of 2008 amended the list of environmental offences, increased the penalties for each offence and aligned the legal terminology with modern definitions of environmental protection. To apply this legislation, the Peruvian Government created a Specialized Prosecution Office for Environmental Offences. Since 2010, this office has been defending the interests of the State in investigations and proceedings involving environmental offences. This move has served to overcome a piecemeal, sector-based approach to environmental protection that impeded proper and effective enforcement of environmental justice. The environmental justice system has been further enhanced by the establishment of Specialized Environmental Prosecutors within the Attorney General’s Office; and the creation, in 2013, of two Preliminary Investigation Courts for environmental offences, although their remit covers only two of the country’s districts (Piura and Cusco). It is also noteworthy that the entities that make up the National System of Environmental Assessment and Oversight have played a positive role in promoting the enforcement of environmental legislation.

Despite changes in the country’s institutions and legal framework, several major loopholes in environmental justice and enforcement persist. The lack of social licences for many projects and construction work, coupled with societal empowerment in defending and protecting the environment and natural resources, has fuelled a growing number of legal challenges, through both administrative mechanisms and the courts, with the consequent need to improve the capabilities of those responsible for applying and enforcing environmental legislation in both instances. Issues such as the burden of proof in court proceedings, or the inadequate level of technical expertise, continue to pose challenges for justice administration.

  • Draft a national action plan on environmental health, targeting: (i) enhanced basic sanitation, particularly in rural areas and municipalities; (ii) improved health and safety in the workplace; and (iii) reduced exposure to poor sanitary conditions (air, drinking water, wastewater, solid waste, dangerous substances and all types of pollution and environmental liabilities).

  • Bolster and deepen formal and informal education and awareness on environmental issues among the public and the business sector, prioritising the most polluting industries and the communities that are most exposed and vulnerable to risks associated with externalities arising from economic activities and climatological conditions, in order to: (i) improve awareness and fulfilment of rights and duties; (ii) contribute to behavioural changes and the adoption of environment-friendly practices; and (iii) facilitate active and constructive participation in the design and implementation of policies, programmes, strategies and projects that have an impact on the environment.

  • Enhance the effectiveness of citizen participation mechanisms in the environmental impact assessment system, and also in plans, standards and programmes and in other forums for social interaction; continue to promote and improve conditions for implementation of the prior consultation mechanism provided for in ILO Convention No. 169, particularly in major investment projects in the mining and energy sectors.

  • Improve the capabilities of the judiciary, the Attorney General’s Office and other agencies of the justice system with responsibility for law enforcement, in addressing environmental issues; and consider setting up specialised environmental courts. Scale up mechanisms to provide environmental education and training to the judicial branch, within the Judiciary School and other training facilities for judges; improve technical and scientific support for justice administration and law enforcement tasks, and strengthen police agencies that specialise in environmental offences.

1. Current situation

As revealed in the indices of access to basic goods and services, the quality of life of the Peruvian people has improved. Socioeconomic progress in the last few decades has brought with it an over-60%, increase in per capita income and a reduction in the poverty rate from roughly 52% in 2003 to 24% in 2013 (ECLAC, 2016). Nonetheless, the challenge remains to overcome the glaring inequality and environmental degradation generated by economic development. Moreover, increased consumption by a growing middle class is fuelling greater demand for public services and is harming the quality of the environment.

Inequality is reflected in differentiated access to basic goods and services, both between urban and rural areas and between the different geographical regions of the country (coast, highlands —sierra— and forest —selva— regions), and social disparities including gender, ethnic and age group gaps, among others.

Population growth, the current development model and consumption patterns, compounded by the haphazard expansion of urban areas, lack of land use management and unequal income distribution, contribute to the overexploitation and degradation of environmental services and natural resources (MINAM, 2014a). This situation complicates the relation between society and the environment. On the one hand, pollution and climate change have affected specific population groups differently in terms of health and well-being, and have given rise to serious socio-environmental conflicts; on the other hand, economic growth has stimulated expansion in certain sectors of production, thus contributing to the country’s general development.

1.1. Inequality and vulnerability

Although Peru is one of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean with the lowest inequality index, this remains above that of the vast majority of OECD member states (Chapter 1). Nationwide income inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient, declined from 0.49 in 2004 to 0.44 in 2013. The sharpest reduction occurred in urban zones, where the index shed five percentage points between 2004 and 2013 to reach a level of 0.40; in contrast, inequality decreased by less in rural areas, edging down from 0.43 to 0.42 in the same period (Figure 4.1). In 2013, the highest inequality was recorded in the highland and forest regions, each with a Gini coefficient of 0.47 (INEI, 2013).

Figure 4.1. Income inequality, 2004-2013

Source: INEI, National Household Survey (ENAHO), 2004-2013.

Poverty particularly affects peoples of Quechua, Aymara and Amazonian origin, who are concentrated in the highland and forest regions. In 2007, over half of Peru’s indigenous population was living in poverty; but by 2013 the proportion had shrunk considerably to less than one third (Figure 4.3). Nonetheless, in rural areas, poverty remains very high among the indigenous population, with rates of over 40%.

Figure 4.2. Total, urban and rural poverty, 2003-2013

Source: INEI, National Household Survey (ENAHO), 2003-2013.

Figure 4.3. Incidence of poverty by ethnic origin, 2007-2013

Source: INEI, National Household Survey (ENAHO), 2003-2013.

Poverty rates expressed in terms of the coverage of public utilities have also decreased, thanks to expanded access to services. The population segment that suffers from at least one unmet basic need1 decreased from 30.3% in 2007 to 20.3% in 2013 (INEI, 2015b). In the latter year, however, there were sharp differences between departments. For example, in Loreto and Ucayali over half of the population had at least one unmeasured basic need, compared to less than 10% of the population in Lima-Callao and Tacna.

Given the social inequality and territorial segregation that still exist in Peru, the poorest population and those without access to public services are most vulnerable to environmental changes, particularly natural disasters. The risk is compounded by the precarious and informal nature of most homes, built in areas that are prone to such phenomena, including hillsides, riverbanks, coastal strips, unstable land or areas that are remote from assistance centres.

1.2. Access to basic services

Peru’s population growth and economic buoyancy have fuelled a significant increase in energy consumption. In response to this, electric power generation grew by about 7% per year in 2004-2013 (MINAM, 2014b).

In 2003, just 70.4% of households were connected to the public electricity grid. By 2013, coverage had grown to 92.1%. The expansion was much greater in rural areas, where there was also a steeper reduction in poverty, although there are still differences with urban zones in this respect. Between 2003 and 2013, the percentage of households with access to the public drinking water network2 increased from 70.4% to 83.2%, while the proportion of users with access to improved sanitation services increased from 62.4% to 77.8% (Figure 4.4) (INEI, 2015b).

Access to electricity, water supply and sanitation services is greater in urban zones and in the coastal region. Nonetheless, over 30% of the population in half of Peru’s departments lacked access to drinking water in 2011, while in the regions of Amazonas, Loreto and Pasco the figure was about 50%. Moreover, many households that do have drinking water supply suffer from poor water quality and an irregular service (Chapter 8).

Figure 4.4. Access to water, sanitation and electricity services, 2003-2013

Source: INEI, National Household Survey (ENAHO), 2003-2013.

1.3. Pollution

The deterioration in air quality is mainly due to the sustained increase in the vehicle fleet and the use of fossil fuels. The number of vehicles grew by about 70% from 1.3 million to over 2.3 million in 2003-2013 (Chapter 6) (INEI, 2015b). In the same period, vehicle density grew from 50 to 75 vehicles per 1 000 inhabitants.3 Air quality has deteriorated, particularly in the largest cities, owing to the expansion of the vehicle fleet and its age, particularly in the case of urban transport vehicles. Other sources of atmospheric pollution identified in various zones of the country include brick production, mineral extraction and smelting, industrial fishing activities and electric power generation.

The estimated volume of air pollutant emissions grew sharply in 2003-2012. Particulate materials increased by 14% to a level of 77.5 million tonnes, whereas emissions of nitrogen oxide grew by 72% to 114 600 tonnes and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions increased by 22% to 696 000 tonnes (INEI, 2015a).

Peru has adopted measures to reduce and reverse this trend. Sulphur oxide emissions declined by 11% between 2003 and 2012, from 51 500 to 45 700 tonnes (INEI, 2015a). Over the same period, the consumption of substances that contribute to ozone layer depletion decreased by 76.8% (INEI, 2015a).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the use of solid fuels in homes is associated with a rise in mortality from pneumonia and other respiratory diseases in children, together with higher mortality from pulmonary diseases and cerebrovascular accidents among adults.

According to WHO estimates, Peru is one of the Latin American countries with the highest percentage of the population using solid fuels in their homes —around 34% in 2013, and much higher in rural areas.4 The Millennium Development Goal indicators show that this rate has remained relatively stable.

Moreover, estimates made by the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) based on the National Household Survey show a sharp reduction in the number of people who cook exclusively with fire wood or coal: from 29.3% to 8.3% between 2001 and 2011. The steepest fall occurred in the highland region (from 46% to 9%), followed by the forest region (from 59.4% to 26.8%) and the coastal region (from 10.8% to 3.4%) (United Nations, 2013).

A document describing the country’s sociodemographic profile, Perfil Sociodemográfico del Perú, published in 2008 by INEI, ranks firewood second among the fuels used most frequently for cooking, with 30.2% of households using this form of fuel. The leading fuel was gas, which was used in 55.6% of households. In contrast, in rural areas firewood was the most common cooking fuel, used in 77.4% of households. Those areas often also used animal dung (14.5% of households), particularly in the highland area, where firewood is scarce and the deforestation rate is high.

The 2007 National Population Census found that 83% of households that cooked with fire wood, coal, animal dung or kerosene did not have a chimney in the kitchen; so conditions inside the homes could be highly toxic. In some places, mainly in the Amazon region, the cooker was outside the home, which considerably reduces the problem. To overcome this, since the 1980s, the use of improved cookers has been encouraged, initially to reduce deforestation but subsequently to avoid diseases. The general objective was to address the problem through an integrated approach that recognised its multiple causes and the factors —including poverty, level of education and isolation— that prevented the affected population from using other fuels.

In 2007, the Institute of Work and Family (ITYF) started to implement the “Sembrando” project, through which over 90 000 cookers have been distributed. The programmereceived carbon credits, and since 2009 it has been complemented with a campaign titled “Medio millón de cocinas mejoradas por un Perú sin humo” [Half a million improved cookers for a smoke-free Peru], which aims to raise the profile of the problem of pollution in the poorest homes and its impact on health. Both were framed by broader poverty-reduction and child malnutrition policies, which facilitates the co-ordination of different actors. In this context, Urgent Decrees 069-2009 and 025-2010 were issued, which authorise local and regional governments to earmark up to 2.5% of their income and mining royalties for the manufacture of upgraded cookers, drinking water supply, and waste management in the highland and forest zones. Thanks to these campaigns, over 155 000 households have certified improved cookers. In addition, under the “Nina” project (2009-2011) of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, over 40 000 cookers that operate with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and 64 000 improved wood-burning cookers were distributed to rural communities.

In urban areas, gas is the most widely used fuel (71.4% of households), whereas firewood is used by 15.2% (roughly 780 000 households). This situation undoubtedly contributes to local pollution, but there is no further information in this regard.

1.4. Human health effects of environmental degradation and pollution

There is a direct relation between environmental pollution, on the one hand, and acute diarrhoeal diseases (ADD) and acute respiratory infections (ARI), on the other. Although these illnesses can affect the entire population, they are more common and intense among children under five years of age. In 2003-2013, there was a significant reduction in the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases in this age group, from over 1 million to 529 000 cases diagnosed (Figure 4.5). In addition, ARI cases dropped from 4 million to nearly 3 million. The reduction has been smaller among the population at large, 28.7% for ADD and 2.0% in the case of ARI.

Figure 4.5. Incidence of acute diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections among the under-fives, 2003-2013.
(Thousands of cases)

Source: Ministry of Health (MINSA), General Office of Statistics and Informatics (OGEI).

Malnutrition also declined sharply, particularly in urbanised areas. Between 1991-1992 and 2010-2011, chronic malnutrition among the under-fives dropped from 62% to 10% in urban areas; and it fell by 32% to 37% in rural zones (United Nations, 2013).

As with environmental pollution, the atmospheric changes caused by climate change are affecting the population’s health. Emergencies caused by extreme natural events increased by 55% between 2003 and 2013. Specifically, the number of frosts increased from 73 to 340; intense rainstorms from 388 to 1 177; snowstorms from 16 to 296; and hailstorms from 50 to 157 (INEI, 2016).

1.5. Social and cultural effects of environmental changes

Urban and rural areas display different patterns of economic growth, and differences in terms of the availability of infrastructure and services, income and opportunities. This triggers migration to the cities, land-use change and the loss of ancestral practices.

While migrations may be driven by economic and social factors, they can also respond to anthropic pollution and to the process of climate change. Among other things, these phenomena affect the inhabitants of rural zones with rainfed land and impoverished and eroded soils, and those living in fragile ecosystems.

Urbanisation in Peru has been a rapid process. While rural dwellers accounted for over 50% of the total population in the 1970s, they represent just 23% today. Migration is more common in the highland region, where rural and semi-urban populations move to the smaller coastal cities (INEI, 2011), mainly owing to the exhaustion of soils resulting from over-cropping and grazing, and the abandonment of autochthonous techniques.

2. Relevant actors

The fact that the Transparency and Access to Public Information Act, of 2003 (Law 27806) is binding on government institutions has enabled citizens to inform themselves of the measures adopted by governments, strengthen the link between the State and the population, and promote citizen oversight. The response to information requests and the creation of standardised transparency portals fosters the relation between public entities and the citizenry, in the framework of a modern state at the service of individuals.

Nonetheless, there is unfinished business in this area, since 54.6% of complaints filed against municipalities stem from a lack of information transparency (Office of the Ombudsman, 2013a). These are followed, in order of frequency, by complaints lodged against the education sector (17.4%) and health sector (6.2%), and against regional governments (4.8%). It would therefore be advisable to strengthen the capabilities of district and local governments in this domain.

Law 28245, of 2004, established the National Environmental Management System (SNGA), which provides for mechanisms to facilitate access to information on the environment, and the dissemination of that information nationally, regionally and locally. To that end, the National Environmental Information System (SINIA) was created. The system has been managed since 2009 by MINAM and has been defined as a “network of technological, institutional and human integration that facilitates the systemisation, access and distribution of environmental information: relevant for decision-making and environmental management.

To consolidate the SINIA network, MINAM is encouraging the application of protocols that have been developed to systemise the exchange and flow of environmental information. It is promoting the creation and implementation of regional environmental information systems (SIAR) and local environmental information systems (SIAL). By late 2013, 21 regional governments (84%) had started processes to implement the former, and 45 were starting to apply local environmental information systems (SINIA, 2016).

The Ministry of the Environment, acting through the Department of Environmental Information and Research (DGIIA), is integrating the digital environmental information repositories of libraries and research centres throughout the country. Since the creation of MINAM, two reports have been produced on the status of the environment in Peru, covering 2009-2011 and 2012-2013.

The environmental information system is used by researchers, students and consultants; but it is not yet known nor being used en masse. The main constraint is the lack of Internet access for large sectors of the population, particularly those who are directly affected by projects and works, and those most vulnerable to weather phenomena. In addition, easily understandable material needs to be offered, including in indigenous languages. It would also be advisable to strengthen the system at the three levels of government —national, regional or departmental and local— to facilitate participation of the population likely to be affected by pollution, environmental deterioration and natural disasters when adopting preventive measures.

2.1. Citizen participation in environmental decision-making

The Prior Consultation with Indigenous or Originating Peoples Act, recognised in ILO Convention 169 (Law 29785 of 2011) and its respective regulations (Supreme Decree 001-2012-MC) contain provisions on citizen participation in environmental decision-making. The law specifies seven consecutive and mandatory stages in any consultation process related to the adoption of legislative or administrative measures: (i) identification of the measure; (ii) identification of the indigenous or originating peoples that need to be consulted; (iii) dissemination of the measure; (iv) provision of information on the measure; (v) internal evaluation in the institutions and organisations of the indigenous or originating peoples; (iv) dialogue between government representatives and those of the indigenous or originating peoples; and (vii) decision-making.

The relevant functions of the Ministry of Culture, which acts through the Vice Ministry of Inter-culturalism, consist in providing technical assistance to the entities that promote the measures and to the indigenous or originating peoples, throughout the participatory prior consultation process.

As of 2015, 22 national, regional and local consultation processes had been held, 54.5% of which were related to the energy sector, specifically oil drilling, whereas 36.4% concerned protected natural areas. In the agriculture sector, there was a consultation on the regulations to the Forestry and Wildlife Act; and in the health sector, a consultation on the inter-cultural health sector policy.

In recent years, social conflicts have proliferated, mainly owing to territorial segregation and the unequal use and exploitation of environmental services. The Office of the Ombudsman is responsible for monitoring these conflicts, on which it must issue a monthly report. In 2008, the Directorate of the Social Conflicts Unit was created; and three years later the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Social Conflict Prevention and Governance was established (Office of the Ombudsman, 2012).

In just under five years, the number of social conflict cases increased by over 300%, most of which involved socio-environmental issues. Whereas disputes of this type were concentrated in four of the country’s regions in 2004, they had spread to a further 20 by 2010. The expansion also manifested itself in terms of percentages: in 2011, active or latent socio-environmental conflicts represented 41.7% of the total.

In 2013, a total of 139 disputes were registered, of which 74.8% related to mining activity, and 12.2% to drilling for oil and gas. The departments registering the largest number of socio-environmental disputes are Áncash (22), Apurímac (17), Cajamarca (11), and Ayacucho, Puno and Cusco (9 cases each) (Office of the Ombudsman, 2013b).

The National Office for Dialogue and Sustainability (ONDS), which is a government agency and a technical body of the Office of the President of the Council of Ministers (PCM), is responsible for setting up mechanisms for co-ordination with the different government levels, and with stakeholders and leaders from the public and private sectors. These mechanisms represent an instance of participation and interaction between the representatives of the population involved, organised civil society and the competent local, regional and national entities and authorities. There is also a system for preventing and monitoring social conflicts and information on them, which is linked to ONDS.

The Advisory Office on Socio-environmental Matters (OAAS), created within MINAM in 2011, is responsible for the management, prevention and solution of socio-environmental disputes, and for proposing “updating strategies”, which are appropriate to the circumstances and the demands of the population. In 2013, OAAS and several other MINAM agencies, participated in 48 national dialogues, 10 in the north, 17 in the south, three in the east, nine in the south-east, and nine in the central zone (MINAM, 2013).

Other citizen-participation mechanisms include the production of participatory budgets and consensus-based regional and local development plans, which prioritise investments in different spheres, including the environment. The regional technical commissions on ecological and economic zoning and land-use management are another alternative mechanism for consensus- building, and they represent good sustainable development practices.

Despite the existence of these mechanisms, citizen participation needs to be made more effective in terms of environmental impact assessment, plans, standards and programs, as well as other social interaction spaces. Progress should also be made in applying the prior consultation mechanism envisaged in ILO Convention 169, particularly in relation to the large investment projects in the mining and energy sectors.

2.2. Citizen access to environmental justice

Legal remedies under Peruvian environmental protection legislation are specified in constitutional, criminal, civil, and administrative laws. In particular, the Penal Code defines environmental offences. Under Law 29263 of 2008, the concept of “ecological offence” was replaced by that of “environmental offence”, and the applicable penalties were increased.

In 2010, the Specialized Prosecution Office for Environmental Offences was created within MINAM, to defend the interests of the state in investigations or judicial processes launched or to be launched, and which are related to the environmental offences specified in the Penal Code.

The Specialized Prosecution Office processed 5 077 cases in 2009-2012, and 2 041 of national scope in 2013. In this period, the most common concerned environmental pollution (1 438), forestry offences (3 990 cases of destruction of forests and illegal trafficking in forestry timber products) and offences related to illegal mining, of which 421 were resolved.5

Specialised prosecution departments were created within the Attorney General’s Office, to deal with environmental issues, with authority to prosecute offences nationally. In addition, the Superior Co-ordinating Prosecution Department was created, with nationwide jurisdiction.

In 2013, two preliminary investigation courts, specialised in environmental offences, were created in the districts of Piura and Cusco. In the same year, MINAM set up a toll-free telephone line for environmental consultations, advice and complaints, known as “Línea Verde” (the green line).

The National Environmental Evaluation and Oversight System, consisting of sanctioning entities, oversees the fulfilment of environmental legislation by the entire population, and monitors effective compliance with the functions of evaluation, supervision, inspection, control, and sanctioning related to the environment.

Under the legislation on the subject, the governing body of the National Environmental and Oversight System is the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA), which is also responsible for imposing sanctions through the Enforcement, Sanctions and Incentives Directorate. This frames the work of the public administration courts, specifically the OEFA Environmental Enforcement Tribunal (Chapter 2).

Despite the changes made to the country’s institutional and legal frameworks, there are still major challenges in terms of justice and the enforcement of environmental legislation. The lack of social licence in numerous projects and works,6 together with the empowering of society with respect to the defence and protection of the environment and natural resources, has fuelled an increase in environmental litigation. The cases in question have been submitted for hearing by administrative entities and the courts. This has raised the need to improve the capacities of those responsible for applying and enforcing environmental regulations in both spheres. Issues relating to technical expertise or the burden of proof in court proceedings remain major challenges for justice administration.

Consequently, the recommendation is to enhance the capacities of the members of the judiciary and other institutions responsible for enforcing environmental legislation, to evaluate the creation of specialised environmental courts. Another suggestion is enhance the technical skills of the judiciary and other stakeholders in connection with legal mechanisms and to expand environmental education and training mechanisms for the Judiciary School.7 It is also necessary to provide training on environmental issues to members of the aforementioned institutions, to improve technical and scientific support for justice administration and enforcement of the laws.

2.3. Education and awareness-raising

In 1996, the National Environment Council (CONAM) approved the first National Environmental Action Agenda, which prioritised education; and in 2006 initial steps were taken to formulate a policy on the subject.

Since 2011, the country has been implementing the Environmental Education Project (PEA), with the objectives of promoting education on eco-efficiency, developing knowledge and promoting the adoption of values, attitudes and practices that make it possible to establish a harmonious relation with the environment.

In keeping with the above, in 2012, Supreme Decree 017-2012-ED was issued, approving the National Policy on Environmental Education (PNEA), for which implementation began in 2015. The aim of this policy is for the education system to adopt an environmental approach centred on four components: (i) school management; (ii) health; (iii) eco-efficiency; and (iv) risk management. The policy contains eight guidelines applicable in basic, technical, higher and community education, together with the promotion of interculturalism and social inclusion, educational resources, citizen participation, and innovation and recognition of environmental performance (MINEDU, 2016).

Most universities in Peru offer environment-related courses, such as environmental engineering, biology, geography and sustainable tourism. In Lima, 2.9% of undergraduate students study courses related to environmental sciences. The Department of Madre de Dios, located in the Amazon region, has the highest percentage of students on courses related to environmental issues: 72.6% of the regional total (Bazan et al., 2012). Throughout the country, many universities also offer postgraduate courses in environmental disciplines, including environmental management.

The National Strategic Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation for Competitiveness and Human Development 2006-2021, of the National Council for Science, Technology and Technological Innovation (CONCYTEC), prioritises seven sectors of production: agriculture and agribusiness, fishing and marine and continental aquaculture, mining and metallurgy, forestry, energy, telecommunications, and tourism. It also attaches special importance to health, education, housing and sanitation, disaster prevention, clean technologies and technologies aimed at mitigating the environmental effects of mining, oil, manufacturing and urban activities.

The 2013-2021 Environmental Research Programme, prepared by MINAM, establishes four strategic areas of work to facilitate scientific knowledge to satisfy the needs of the environmental sector: strengthening of the institutional framework for environmental research, implementation of an environmental research management system, financial support, and implementation of mechanisms for exchanging environmental knowledge (MINAM, 2013b).

The sustainable development culture has been promoted in both the public and the private sectors. In the former, Supreme Decree 009-2009-MINAM establishes measures of eco-efficiency and the integration of environmental accountability criteria in public management. As from 2009, MINAM has also supported the Youth Environmental Volunteer Network, which, at the end of the period under analysis, encompassed 69 organisations, groups and networks of 15 regions in the country. In 2010, the University Environmental Network was created at the third National Forum of Universities, Environmental Management and Sustainable Development.

In the private sector, the Business Eco-Efficiency Award was created, jointly administered by MINAM and Universidad Científica del Sur, with support from the National Confederation of Private Business Institutions (CONFIEP); in 2011, this activity was supported by 180 firms. In addition, the National Prize for Environmental Citizenship has been awarded since 2009, with the aim of identifying, recognising, and disseminating innovative and environmentally outstanding activities undertaken by civil society and the private sector.


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← 1. The unmet needs considered refer to the following: housing of inadequate structure and without hygiene services, whose inhabitants live in conditions of overcrowding and display a high rate of economic dependency and lack of school attendance by school-age children and young people (INEI [online]

← 2. This category refers to households with a connection to the public drinking water network either in the home, or outside the home but inside the building, and those who have access to a standpipe.

← 3. Vehicle density corresponds to an estimate based on demographic data from INEI and information on the vehicle stock from the Ministry of Communications (MTC).

← 4. See “Indoor air pollution” [online]

← 5. Data from the MINAM Specialized Prosecution Office for Environmental Offences [online]

← 6. The term “social licence” refers to acceptance of the projects, either by the affected parties or those who could suffer an impact from the projects, or by other interest groups.

← 7. Public institution created under the Constitution for the training of judges and prosecutors, see [online]