Criteria for Choice of EIA Process

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The following is a list of key criteria which can assist the selection of EIA Process. The list provides both Effectiveness and Implementation criteria.

Effectiveness criteria

Involving the likelihood of the EIA procedures achieving their stated goals:

  • Information. The availability of a sufficient information base to allow effective design and implementation (impinges on all other criteria).
  • Dependability. The extent to which one can be sure that the EIA procedures will achieve the desired outcome or specified goal under existing conditions.
  • Timing. The time required for the EIA procedures to take effect, in relation to the time perceived available for redressing the problems.
  • Adaptability. The ability of the EIA procedures to be applied in the face of heterogeneity within one time period.
  • Flexibility. The degree to which the EIA procedures will continue to be effective, or will require modification, in the face of changing social or economic circumstances.
  • Cost. The gross demand on economic resources for implementation of the EIA procedures.
  • Efficiency. The EIA procedures that can realise the policy goal for the least possible cost. Efficiency is differentiated from cost by the consideration of the achievement of the policy goal, thus moving beyond simple expense.
  • Cross-sectoral influence. The potential for the EIA procedures to offer other benefits (economic efficiency, equity, human health, etc) aside from the achievement of the environmental policy goal. Conversely, the degree of surety that the EIA procedures do not entail a risk of disbenefits in such terms.

Implementation criteria

Involving the likelihood of being able to implement the favoured EIA procedures in the relevant social and institutional operating environment.

  • Equity. The distributional implications; who bears what costs associated with the changes brought about by the application of the EIA procedures.
  • Political feasibility. The likelihood that the EIA procedures will be acceptable to major political/interest groups and the wider electorate.
  • Institutional feasibility. The ability of the existing of realistically envisaged institutional arrangements to implement the EIA procedures.
  • Monitoring. Whether monitoring the impact and use of the EIA procedures over time is feasible and/or affordable.
  • Enforcement/availability. Consequent on monitoring, whether adherence can be enforced if that is necessary and/or appropriate.
  • Communicability. Can the particular details of the EIA procedure, and the reasons for its use, be adequately communicated to those involved in its implementation or upon whom it will impact.


Adapted from Dovers, 1995