Ex-post evaluation of EIA effectiveness and performance can be undertaken at a number of levels. In this section, the emphasis is on a â€˜before and afterâ€™ review of a specific EIA process, focusing on what was achieved and which elements of approach contributed to good environmental outcomes. This type of evaluation can be undertaken as an integral component of EIA implementation and follow up, for example to identify the results and lessons of the experience and feed them back into policy action. However, examples of this approach are limited, and fewer still are based on a systematic review of surveillance, monitoring and auditing data.
Other evaluations of aspects of EIA effectiveness and performance that can provide relevant information include:
- annual or periodic reports on the implementation and performance of EIA systems, e.g. three year review of World Bank experience;
- national and comparative reviews of the quality of EIA reports, e.g. as undertaken in Australia, Canada and the USA;
- reviews of the relationship of the EIA process and decision-making; and
- post-project analyses focusing on the results of EIA inputs and activities.
Despite recent progress, however, there is a lack of widely agreed frameworks for conducting reviews of EIA effectiveness and performance in the above areas. By contrast, in the EMS cycle, review and reporting are integral procedures for improving environmental performance. In leading companies, these are combined with monitoring, audit and other tools to address all impacts of their operations. A review of EIA effectiveness and performance can replicate this approach to document and disseminate the lessons of experience and build the knowledge base on project-specific impacts.
Typically, the responsibility for EIA implementation and follow up activities will be divided among different agencies and individuals. For example:
- the competent authority usually oversees the implementation of the terms and conditions of approval;
- the proponent (often through sub-contractors) normally carries out the scheduled activities, such as site clearance and preparation, construction and environmental management;
- the environmental or regulatory agency usually inspects mitigation measures, reviews monitoring data and verifies compliance and effectiveness; and
- the public can have a formal role in environmental monitoring and audit, e.g. where a stakeholder or community review committee is in place. In other cases, there may be provision for public disclosure of monitoring and audit reports and opportunities for informal review and comment.