Latin America

Dominican Republic

Environment


Dominican Republic : AN INTRODUCTION

Contributed by Quiroz Santroni, Abogados Consultores

The Dominican Republic, located in the middle of the Caribbean, is in fact one of the strongest economies in Central America and the Caribbean region. It has experienced significant growth in the Americas over the last 20 years, reflected in the increase in gross domestic product of about 5% annually in recent years. An appropriate legal framework, among other factors, has enabled increasingly important investment in sectors such as tourism, construction, mining, energy and free zones. It is expected that the pressure of full development on natural resources will increase over time, so the country has made efforts to preserve its environment. However, relevant challenges remain unsolved:

- Integration of Environmental Policies and Sector Laws

This is one of the most important challenges of the country for the coming years and why it should be mentioned first. As a developing country, needs and investment opportunities primarily in infrastructure and basic services are major. The introduction of environmental variables and overall sustainability in the development of investment is and should be a priority for the State. This has been understood by the legislator in approving the Law on National Development Strategy 2010-2030 in 2011. This law seeks an integrating economy that is competitive and environmentally sustainable. It also seeks a society that protects the environment and natural resources via environmentally sustainable production and consumption, adapting to climate change and managing and controlling risk equity and efficiency. However, one of the major energy projects under development, promoted by the Dominican State, does not fully comply with this spirit, as energy production will be based on coal.

The mining sector urgently requires a consensual state policy, whose guidelines are in line with current legislation and the intention of the State to promote its activities, as stated in the Dominican Constitution of 2010. The questioning of the social environmental licence in major mining projects has generated violations to constitutionally recognised rights. One example worth mentioning is the attempt of the National Congress to create a protected area through a law platform in a concession to a mining company operating area.

Ensuring compatibility of development objectives with sustainability is undoubtedly one of the most important challenges of the near future.

- Lack of Land Management

This is also one of the biggest problems that causes conflict when it comes to investment development and environmental protection. Larger conflicts arise between the state, the private sector and communities in the absence of a strategic land use regulation, as required by the Dominican Constitution of 2010.

It is undoubtedly a pending task, with consequences that are beyond price.

- Enforcement of Environmental Legislation

The General Law of Environment, brought into force in 2000, establishes comprehensive monitoring of environmental compliance. The environmental variable is already included in the mindset of the private sector.

However, while it is still insufficient, environmental monitoring by various agencies (Environmental District Attorney's Office and Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources) has increased. Consequently, more and more violators of environmental standards are being prosecuted, with the environmental authorities often imposing heavy fines for violations of the General Law of the Environment and Natural Resources, among other penalties.

All in all, proper enforcement of environmental legislation remains as a pending task for the governmental authorities.

- Contaminated Sites

The Dominican Republic still has a pending job relating to the regulating of contaminated sites. This issue requires urgent attention as it affects not only the environmental quality of the country but also the security of the investments.

The private sector is increasingly concerned about the existence of contaminated sites relating to their business, and devotes its efforts to verifying the existence of risks of environmental responsibility for its operations.

- Climate Change

As an island, climate change takes top billing on the environmental agenda. The biggest challenge that the Dominican Republic will face in the near future is its adaptation to the consequences of the most significant environmental impact caused by human activity: global warming.

There are many questions: how will climate change affect tourism infrastructure located in coastal areas? And the agricultural sector? Etc. Governmental agencies are already working in different fields to mitigate climate change. Finding the appropriate responses will help us to manage the expected consequences of climate change in the country: water shortages, increased intensity of extreme weather (hurricanes and rain), floods in coastal areas, and displacement of population, among others.

- Waste

The National Congress has not yet considered waste as one of the major environmental problems faced by the country. In spite of this, a public-private coalition of institutions has worked on a project that regulates waste in the Dominican Republic. The National Congress has not yet considered or approved it. The introduction of very important principles regarding management of waste, such as 'extended producer responsibility', is essential to start organising the waste sector - at least in the major cities.

The good news is that the environmental regulator has worked in several rulings regarding management of certain waste (batteries and tires), which shows some good will from the Ministry of Environment to promote more comprehensive protection of the environment.

- Water

Last, but not least, water is one of the oldest pending issues to solve in the Dominican Republic. Despite the good intentions of past rulings to organise the water sector, all have failed.

All the aforementioned matters are essential to the environmental agenda of our country. The private and public sector have showed effort, at different levels, to address this, but the major decisions are yet to be made.

Environment - Dominican Republic

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第一等 |

Basic facts about the department - 1 partner

What the team is known for One of the first environmental boutiques advising clients on dispute resolution, due diligence and impact studies. Advises both major private and public clients in this sector in front of administrative and judicial courts.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"GMA - Gustavo Mena Abogados is very active in - and focused on - the environmental area. The firm has experienced, standout people."

Notable practitioners  

A former consultant for the Ministry of Environment, Gustavo Mena is noted by peers for his specialist experience and activity in this area. He provides clients with sector-specific advice and litigation services.  

第一等 |

Basic facts about the department - 1 partner
 - 2 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Environmental boutique covering many areas of corporate/commercial law, including permits, contracts and foreign investment. Provides regular consultancy to the Ministry of Environment.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"This is a standout firm for its environmental expertise." 

Work highlights Advised Real Hotels & Resorts on permits and environmental issues relating to hotel investment projects.

Notable practitioners  

Peers recognise Romina Santroni as a leading environmental lawyer. She specialises in licensing and permits, with a particular focus on the tourism and mining sectors.  

Significant clients Real Hotels & Resorts, Rizek Cacao, Playa Grande Holdings, Visanto Properties, CEMEX.

第二等 |

Basic facts about the department - 3 partners
 - 3 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Advises clients on compliance for environmental regulation with regards to industrial, tourism and energy projects. Well known for its involvement in the revision of new environmental legislation. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The team offers top-drawer customer service and has valuable market knowledge."  

Work highlights Provides ongoing legal assistance to Fenwal on all matters concerning environmental issues in the Dominican Republic.

Notable practitioners 

Julio Camejo is the key client contact.

Significant clients The Nature Conservancy, Playa Grande, Fenwal, MercaSID, Induveca.

第二等 |

Basic facts about the department - 3 partners
 - 3 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Full-service firm with an active environmental department offering specialisms in real estate, mining, energy and construction. 

Work highlights Provides legal assistance to Cormidom on the regularisation of mining operations, including permits, licensing and litigation advice.

Notable practitioners 

Luis Pellerano is the key client contact.

Significant clients Cormidom, Island Green Power, Carnival Cruise Lines, Falconbridge.

Foreign Experts

Foreign Experts are individuals with expertise in a different jurisdiction to the one they are based in. These individuals are particularly highly regarded for international and cross-border work. Usually, they will be identified in the jurisdiction in which they are based and in their country of expertise.

Senior Statesman

A 'Senior Statesman' is a lawyer who no longer works hands-on with the same intensity but who, by virtue of close links with major clients, remains pivotal to the firm’s success.

Eminent Practitioners

'Eminent Practitioners' are highly influential lawyers in a particular practice area who, due to managerial or client relationship commitments, are less active in day-to-day work but remain key players in the team.

Other Noted Practitioners

Other Noted Practitioners are individuals who have not yet been ranked but are seen to be active and accomplished in this area of law.

Other Noted Firms

Other Noted Firms are firms that have not yet been ranked but are seen to be active and accomplished in this area of law.