EIA Best Practice

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The following "Best Practice" principles were issued by the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) and UK Institute of Environmental Assessment (now the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment).


Basic Principles

Environmental Impact Assessment should be:

Purposive – the process should inform decision-making and result in appropriate levels of environmental protection and community well-being.

Rigorous – the process should apply 'best practicable' science, employing methodologies and techniques appropriate to address the problems being investigated.

Practical – the process should result in information and outputs which assist with problem solving and are acceptable to and able to be implemented by proponents.

Cost-effective – the process should achieve the objectives of EIA within the limits of available information, time, resources and methodology.

Efficient – the process should impose the minimum cost burdens in terms of time and finance on proponents and participants consistent with meeting accepted requirements and objectives of EIA.

Focused – the process should concentrate on significant environmental effects and key issues; i.e., the matters that need to be taken into account in making decisions.

Adaptive – the process should be adjusted to the realities, issues and circumstances of the proposals under review without compromising the integrity of the process, and be iterative, incorporating lessons learned throughout the proposal’s life cycle.

Participative – the process should provide appropriate opportunities to inform and involve the interested and affected publics, and their inputs and concerns should be addressed explicitly in the documentation and decision-making.

Interdisciplinary – the process should ensure that the appropriate techniques and experts in the relevant biophysical and socioeconomic disciplines are employed, including use of traditional knowledge as relevant.

Credible – the process should be carried out with professionalism, rigor, fairness, objectivity, impartiality and balance, and be subject to independent checks and verification.

Integrated – the process should address the interrelationships of social, economic and biophysical aspects.

Transparent – the process should have clear, easily understood requirements for EIA content; ensure public access to information; identify the factors that are to be taken into account in decision making; and acknowledge limitations and difficulties.

Systematic – the process should result in full consideration of all relevant information on the affected environment, of proposed alternatives and their impacts, and of the measures necessary to monitor and investigate residual effects.

Operating Principles

The EIA process should provide for:

Screening – to determine whether or not a proposal should be subject to EIA and, if so, at what level of detail.

Scoping – to identify the issues and impacts that are likely to be important and to establish terms of reference for EIA.

Examination of alternatives – to establish the preferred or most environmentally sound option for achieving the objectives of a proposal

Impact analysis – to identify and predict the likely environmental, social and other related effects of the proposal.

Mitigation and impact management – to establish the measures that are necessary to avoid, minimise or offset predicted adverse impacts and, where appropriate, to incorporate these into an environmental management plan or system.

Evaluation of significance – to determine the importance or acceptability of residual impacts that cannot be mitigated.

Preparation of environmental impact statement (EIS) or report – to document the impacts of the proposal, the significance of effects, and the concerns of the interested public and the communities affected by the proposal.

Review of the EIS – to determine whether the report meets its terms of reference, provides a satisfactory assessment of the proposal(s) and contains the information required for decision-making.

Decision-making – to approve or reject the proposal and to establish the terms and conditions for its implementation.

Follow up – to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of approval; to monitor the impacts of development and the effectiveness of mitigation measures; and, where required, to undertake environmental audit and process evaluation to strengthen future EIA applications and mitigation measures and to optimise environmental management.


  • International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) (1999) Principles of EIA Best Practice. IAIA, Fargo, North Dakota.

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