Recently a young man reading my blog post entitled “Japan uses Climate Finance to fund coal-fired power plants”, wrote to me and said “I am really unclear about the functions of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), does it even make sense?” Can you help me to understand the importance of an EIA?
Well an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) according to the UNESCO-IHE is an important planning tool whose sole purpose is to give the environment its due place in the decision-making process by clearly evaluating the environmental, social, and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making, consequences of a proposed activity at the design states.
Strategic assessment must be undertaken prior to an EIA which considers environmental objectives at a higher level of decision-making facilitating consultations between authorities on policy, planning and programs formulation, it strengthens and streamline projects for an EIA by analyzing accumulative and indirect effects of projects and activities. It aims also to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment, and present the predictions and options to decision makers.
But more than that in my own honest opinion an EIA provides environmental activist the unique opportunity to stop environmental harm before it occurs and sometime an opportunity to work along with governmental agencies to solve, reverse and mitigate environmental damage after it has happen.
EIA essentially gives us the opportunity to affect environmental decisions, by rejecting projects that can be harmful to the environment before it happens, mitigate measures needed and make recommendations how they should be incorporated into the project design and the appropriate monitoring and evaluation activities that are required to ensure that mitigating measures are implemented and any future problems avoided.
The importance for undertaking an EIA :
- An environmental impact Assessment, assist in outlining the necessary areas to consider how an organization will need to change or implement new laws in order to ensure environmentally sustainable development.
- The implementation necessary measures to mitigate or monitor that may often have an impact on the work of one or several institutions. It will therefore be necessary to recommend precisely the structure and role of new units within an organization or the restructuring of existing units, so that the proposed measures can be implemented effectively.
- Evaluate the environmental impacts of a proposed development or project and how it can threaten people’s lives and livelihoods. The environmental impact of a project should be considered at the earliest possible stage of the planning cycle, preferably at the project inception phase.
- Screening: deciding if an EIA is required based on information collected;
- Scoping: gathering environmental intelligence through consultation with relevant agencies and experts and a review of applicable laws and regulations;
- Impact assessment: identifying and evaluating alternatives for achieving the objective, and the associated environmental impacts of each alternative;
- Mitigation measures: reviewing proposed actions to prevent or minimize the potential adverse effects of the project;
- Action: incorporating the mitigation measures in project design and implementation; and
An EIA essentially should give recommendations on local capacity building and while it is understood that economic, social and environmental changes are inherent to development it should aim to bring about positive change but it can lead to a number of severe conflicts, it is worth noting that economic growth springboards increased well-being but any development thrust with little sensitivity to adverse social or environmental impacts must be addressed in an EIA.
The need to avoid adverse impacts and to ensure long-term benefits led to the evolving concept of sustainability. This has become accepted as an essential feature of development if the aim is increased well-being and greater equity in fulfilling basic needs are met for this and future generations.