Chile: new norms mean more enviro scrutiny for agriculture

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Chile: new norms mean more enviro scrutiny for agriculture

The Chilean government has flagged increased enforcement against environmental regulation breaches and fines of up to UTA10,000 (US$69,349).

Consultant Greenland Chile and legal firm Araya & Cía held a seminar recently to raise awareness of what these new norms would mean.

A goal of current government environmental standards in Chile is to obtain greater sustainability and create clear specifications that allow development without compromising future generations, Araya & Cía said. This aim has meant minimum required standards for businesses and individuals.

In the agriculture and wine industries, regulations include water management,  such as use of wells, resevoirs, rivers and waste water, alongside pesticide use, renewable energy and the carbon footprint.

Jorge García Nielsen, a lawyer at Greenland Chile, spoke on the importance of businesses evaluating their practices to avoid problems.

"It's necessary for businesses and producers to do the relevant studies, and regularize their situations in terms of compliance with environmental regulations, especially with revenue and adherence to the environmental evaluation system," he said

"This would not only put them within the framework of the law but would also avoid high fines that irregular situations entail."

The main areas requiring attention in the agriculture and wine sectors include reservoirs for irrigation, management of land-based bodies of water, storage, mass use of chemicals, treatment plants, electricity generation and finally, genetically modified organisms, assuming draft regulations by Chile's Environmental Evaluation Service are included.

Distinguished guest, Andrea Rudnick, head of the Chilean Office of Climate Change, also explained problems surrounding climate change to the seminar audience. Chile is committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce carbon emissions by 20%, despite emitting less than 1% of global greenhouse gases.

To meet this goal, Chile will focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, land use measures, changes to land use and forestry.

In respect to water issues, Francisco Riestra, head of auditing of Chile's Water Directorate, said the office currently has the best equipment to detect water encroachments, including  river diversions or theft from wells.

Compliance failure can result in a fine of up to CLP$200 million ($US417,756). The speaker emphasized the importance of perfected and regularized water rights.

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