Protecting the nature we all rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods

Project "Onze Natuur op 1"

For decades, Suriname has been dealing with outdated nature legislation and inadequate enforcement. Nevertheless, Suriname still is the most forest-rich country in the world. The Ministry of Spatial planning, Land and Forestry management (RGB) has decided that nature legislation needs to get back at the level of the '50-'70s, when Suriname was a pioneer in the field of nature protection and eco-tourism.​

Our nature first

Project Onze Natuur op 1 logo

The name of the Project is “Project Onze Natuur op 1,” meaning “our nature first." This title refers to recovering a global no. 1 position in thinking about nature management, but also to the cultural change that Suriname should make in her daily and policy: away from mining, back to modern nature management.

The Surinamese nature legislation dates back to 1954 and has a strong focus on strict nature protection, where other forms of human actions and/or economic models are completely ruled out. Nowadays, the thinking about nature protection has transformed into a vision of nature management where there is place for nature, people and sustainable coexistence of activities.

New business models, such as from carbon credits, however are not yet possible in Suriname because its legislation excludes this. Also successful nature management models such as community management or co-management are not yet allowed. Next to this, Suriname currently does not conform to environmental conventions that have been ratified, or to internationally accepted principles of nature conservation. Because sustainable management contributes to the well-being of society, nature contributes to a long-term planning of (sustainable) development, and new legislation allows us to qualify for compensation for good management of our forest, the Ministry of RGB decided early 2017 to put a process in motion to update nature.

Together with partners Conservation International Suriname and WWF Guianas a multi-stakeholder process was plotted. The process enables for stakeholders to provide input and share experiences, so that the new legislation is both progressive and practical. By May 2018, draft legislation will be presented to The National Assembly. These laws will be a new start for modern and targeted nature management in the most forest-rich country in the world, Suriname.

A presentation of Project Onze Natuur op 1
© CI Suriname

Main activities

The main activities in the project are classified into four pillars:

  • Advocacy: Getting support among decision makers in parliament and the government
  • Write legislation: An external legal team is hired to process all the input of experts and stakeholders to draft law products.
  • Stakeholder engagement: In a multi-stakeholder process, the knowledge, skills and lessons learned from stakeholders are used as input for the new law products.
  • Advisory groups: Certain themes in the law are discussed in more detail by specific advisory groups.

These four project pillars run simultaneously between March 2017 and December 2018.