Legal Framework


National Environmental Policy (Resolution No. 5/95 of December 6, 1995) Environmental Law (No.20/97, of October 1) Ministerial Diploma (Nr.129/2006)
At the backbone of all environmental regulations, the main objective of this Policy is to guarantee a “sustainable development through an acceptable and realistic compromise between the country’s socioeconomic development and environmental protection” The Law sets a general framework for sustainable development. It aims to:

  1. prevent environmental damage through environmental licensing;
  2. deal with the utilization and practical management of the environment;
  3. proscribe the storage or disposal of toxic pollutants in the atmosphere, (sub)soil, and water.
The Diploma sets up the basis for environmental management.
Main principles are the following:

  1. The environment has to be managed in a way that it protects biodiversity/ecosystems and enhances citizens’ quality;
  2. Local communities’ traditions and knowledge are valuable;
  3. The principle “polluter payer” prevails;
  4. Projects/programs that prevent environmental degradation are prioritized.

Description of main environmental regulations

General framework

  • Activities that, by their nature, location or size, are likely to have significant impact on the environment are subject to licensing and registration.
  • Regulations varies according to activities conducted.
  • Four categories (A+, A, B and C) are defined.
Category A+ A B C
Subject to:
  • Environmental impact assessment (EIA)
  • Environmental pre-viability and definition of scope study (EDPA)
  • Supervision by independent expert reviewers with proven experience
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
  • Environmental pre-viability and definition of scope study (EDPA)
  • Simplified environmental assessment (SEA)
  • Good Environmental Management Procedure (to be prepared by the project proponent and approved by the entity that oversees the area of EIA)

Definition of category A+ activities

  • Activities that, due to their complexity, location or irreversibility and magnitude of possible impact, deserve not only a high level of social and environmental vigilance, but also the involvement of experts in EIA processes.
  • This category includes activities with the following characteristics and locations
Activities located in areas with a high biodiversity value Activities whose implementation directly affects:

  1. coral reefs,
  2. primary dunes,
  3. mangroves,
  4. wetlands
  5. seagrass whenever the affected area exceeds 1 hectare

Activities whose location is in conservation and protected areas and in their buffer zones, with the exception of activities proposed by the managing entity of said conservation area, when intended to improve its management

Activities with irreversible potential impact prior to the application of mitigation measures in areas where human activity has not substantially modified the native ecological functions and species composition of the area
Native forests & zones of unique scenery Physical and economic displacement of families that does not correspond with the pre-defined resettlement model in the Regulation on the Resettlement Process Resulting from Economic Activities Populated areas where the concerned activity may involve high levels of pollution or other disturbance that significantly affects local communities Zones containing: 

  1. animal species,
  2. plant species,
  3. habitats and endangered ecosystems


Definition of category A activities

  • Activities that significantly affect living beings and environmentally sensitive areas and their impacts are of longer duration, intensity, magnitude and significance.
  • This category includes activities related to or located in areas with the following characteristics
Areas and ecosystems recognized as having special protection status under national and international law, such as:

    1. small islands
    2. eminent erosion zones,
    3. areas exposed to desertification,
    4. areas of archaeological, historical and cultural value to be preserved,
    5. protection areas of sources and sources of supply,
    6. groundwater reservoirs
Populated areas that imply the need for reassignment, such as:

  1. regions subject to high levels of development
  2. regions where conflicts exist in the distribution and use of natural resources,
  3. areas along water courses or areas used as a source of water for community consumption,
  4. zones containing valuable resources such as aquatic, mineral and medicinal plants, etc.,
  5. areas prone to natural disasters

Definition of category B activities

  • Activities that do not significantly affect living or environmentally sensitive areas compared to category A activities.
  • The following activities are covered in this category
Activities in conservation areas proposed by the conservation management entity, aimed at improving its management Breeding of poultry with capacity between 1,000 and 1,500 animals per year Cashew nut processing plant
Ceramic industry Dredges for maintenance of the navigational conditions, provided they do not exceed the previously achieved background dimensions Factory for food and beverage processing with production of more than 10 tons per day
Factory for processing of paints and varnishes Fish processing industry Industrial carpentry
Industrial flour processing Industrial production of blocks of cement, kerbs and paves Industrial production of concrete. This type of activity should be located in industrial parks or in areas located at a minimum distance of 6 km from housing areas
Maintenance and reconstruction of coastal erosion works Manufacture of cigarettes cigars Production & processing of juices
Production & processing of wicks Slaughterhouses Storage areas of scrap more than 5 hectares
Production of milk & milk products Transformation or removal of indigenous vegetation in areas between 100 and 200 hectares without irrigation Wood processing plant

Definition of category C activities

  • Activities that have negligible, insignificant or minimal negative impacts.
  • There are no irreversible impacts in this category and the positive ones are superior and more significant than the negative ones.
Bakery industry Domestic carpentry & joinery Factories of biscuits, pastas & sweets Fruit & vegetable preservation industry (production of 300 tons per day or less) Intensive livestock activities (poultry < 1,000 animals per year)
Irrigation systems (with an individual or cumulative area of between 50 ha and 100 ha) Manufacture of fibre, particleboard & plywood panels Manufacture of toilet paper & napkins Production of plastic bags with a thickness of more than 30 micrometres Zinc sheet bending

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • The issuance of the environmental license is based on an EIA (Decree 54/2015 of 31 December).

Environmental Pre-viability and definition of scope study (EDPA)

  • The aim of the environmental pre-viability and definition of scope study (EDPA) is to define the scope of the EIA, through the selection of the environmental components that might be affected by the activity under review and to be targeted by the EIA.
  • The EPDA is carried out based on the submission of certain information, which includes:
Brief biophysical & socio-economic information of the area Current land use in the area of activity Description of the activity Descriptive memory of the activity
Information about the environment of the area of implementation of  he activity Information on the stages of the EIA Justification of the activity Legal framework of the activity

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • Once the EDPA is submitted, the licensing authority will accept or refuse it and then will determine the type of EIA to be carried out.
  • If approved, the investor will have to submit the terms of reference (ToR) for consideration. The ToR must include a description of the specialized studies identified as necessary during the EDPA and to be carried out during the EIA for category A+ and category A activities.
  • It must also include the methodology for the evaluation of ecosystem services provided, the description of viable alternatives identified and to be investigated in the EIA, and additional information or requirements.
  • Furthermore, the ToR must mention the methodology for identifying and assessing environmental impacts, in particular the impacts on climate change and vulnerability to climate change and biodiversity, including residual and social impacts in the construction, operation and deactivation phases.
  • Once the assessment is concluded, the investor must compile a report and submit to the licensing authority with all the results and the respective management plan for final approval and issuance of the respective environmental license with the approved terms of implementation of the project.