This topic introduces the concept of EIA and outlines its history, placing it within the current framework of sustainable development. Reference is made to:
- the purpose and aims of EIA;
- the nature and scope of environmental issues and impacts;
- the principles of EIA administration and practice;
- the concept of integrated assessment;
- the key elements of the EIA process;
- the costs and benefits of undertaking EIA; and
- the role of capacity building in improving EIA practice.
Learning Outcomes of this Section
On successful completion of this Section, you will be able to:
- Demonstrate an introductory understanding of EIA and why it is necessary;
- Appreciate the worldwide influence of EIA practice.
Structure of these EIA learning materials
In this module, the EIA process is discussed in 11 Sections. Following this introduction Section are the following 10 Sections in order, with a brief description of the purpose of each stage in the EIA process:
- Law, Policy and Institutional Arrangements (Section 2): To provide regulatory and legislative governance structures and requirements of EIA processes for project proponents, EIA practitioners and stakeholders.
- Public involvement (Section 3): To inform the public about the proposal and to gain the inputs of those directly affected by or interested in the proposal. Public involvement in some form may occur throughout the EIA process, although it tends to be focused on scoping and review phases of EIA.
- Screening (Section 4): To decide whether or not a proposal should be subject to the EIA process and, if so, at what level of detail.
- Scoping (Section 5): To identify the key issues and impacts that are likely to require further investigation, and to prepare the terms of reference for the EIA study.
- Impact analysis (Section 6): To identify and predict the likely environmental and social effects of the proposal and evaluate their significance.
- Mitigation and impact management (Section 7): To develop measures to avoid, reduce or compensate for impacts, making good any environmental damage.
- Reporting (Section 8 ): To describe the results of the EIA for decision-makers and other interested parties.
- Review of EIA quality (Section 9): To examine the adequacy of the EIA report to see if it meets the terms of reference and provides the information necessary for decision-making.
- Decision-making (Section 10): To approve or reject the proposal and set the terms and conditions under which it can proceed. The decision-maker also generally has the option to defer approval (e.g. until certain conditions are met or to require a proponent to redesign the project so that the environmental effects are minimised).
- Implementation and follow up (Section 11): To check on the implementation of the terms and conditions of approval during the construction and operation phases; to monitor the impacts of the project and the effectiveness of mitigation measures; to take any actions necessary to ameliorate problems; and, as required, to undertake audit and evaluation to strengthen future EIA applications.