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MODULE 1: Introduction to Environmental Assessment

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1 MODULE 1: Introduction to Environmental Assessment

2 WHY MODULE 1 To conduct a successful Integrated Environmental Assessment and reporting (IEA), it is very important to understand the different types of assessments and how they differ or relate to IEA. This module discusses the different assessments and sets the overall context of IEA.

To highlight the different types of environmental assessment and the evolution of IEA. To give the background to IEA and how it informs decision making. To provide an overview of the different approaches for the different assessments. To identify some opportunities for synergy among the different assessment approaches.

4 The different types of Environmental Assessments
State of the Environment (SOE) Integrated Environmental Assessment and Reporting (IEA) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Corporate Environmental Assessment and Reporting

5 State of the Environment (SOE)
Main focus is on the biophysical aspect of the environment Usually undertaken by a government agency in fulfillment of a statutory requirement Typically has no outlook component Provides the basis for IEA

6 Traditional SOE Reports
Early environmental assessment reports focussed on reporting the SOE as it existed at the time of reporting. These are now referred to as “traditional SOE Reports” Traditional SOE Reports have been useful: in pointing out existing environmental trends and conditions. in providing key leverage points to decision-makers. in giving us an inventory of resources which can be used as a starting point for planning sustainable development.

7 Traditional SOE Reports (cont’d)
Are, however, weak in many areas: They are narrative syntheses of the state of the environment, not analyses intended to plan sustainable development Are not integrated with the assessment of key driving forces and policies that cause or influence the environmental trends that have been identified. Are not analytically linked to the potential future outcomes of the current state of the environment To overcome these, SOE must be transformed into IEA with backward and forward linkages to what is continuously happening to the environment.

8 The evolution of IEA Need for broad-based assessment
If we are to respond to interconnected issues. we require: Realistic assessment and reporting practices that communicate problems and solutions to decision-makers and the public. A broader assessment and reporting process that takes into account the links among ecological, socioeconomic and policy issues more systematically.

Integrated Environmental Assessment and reporting (EA) is a process of producing and communicating policy-relevant information on key interactions between the natural environment and human society.

10 IEA Integrates social, economic and environmental issues in the analysis Strives to show cause-effect linkages of human and natural action on the environment and the implications on livelihoods

11 IEA needs to incorporate policy assessment for the whole system
The intentional or unintentional consequences of policies are often dispersed over space, sectors of the economy or environmental media. The effects of policy are delayed in time. The consequences of policies can be incremental and cumulative, they may also represent root causes of environmental problems. Human well-being and vulnerability are affected by the system as a whole and the policies used to manage it.

12 IEA: Human well-being Human and natural driving forces and pressures are impacting the environment

13 IEA: Human well-being and vulnerability
Environmental services and human well-being affected, widening gap between the haves and have-nots, and increasing vulnerability for the latter.

14 IEA: Human… (cont’d) Achieving human well-being is a balancing act.

15 IEA multidimensional and incorporates other elements not in the traditional SOE reporting
Environmental media (state-and-trends of land, water, atmosphere and biodiversity) Functional (provision of environmental goods-and-services) Resource sectors (e.g. links with energy use, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, mining and trade)

16 IEA multidimensional… (cont’d)
Crosscutting issues (relating to production, consumption, gender, poverty, human wellbeing and vulnerability) Environmental issues (land degradation, air and water pollution, disasters, overexploitation of resources) Interlinkages within and between all of the above Policy responses and analyses

17 IEA links environmental state-and-trends with policy responses
integrates environmental analysis with social and economic trends and policies incorporates global and sub-global perspectives incorporates historical and future perspectives involves diverse environment-socioeconomic expertise

18 IEA IEA answers five consecutive questions in sequence, as shown below, from which we can get information to relate socioeconomic activities, environment and policy

19 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
A tool used to determine the social, economic, and environmental impact of major developments, and proposes measures to mitigate impacts. Is project and site specific In the context of IEA, it is a policy response Demands for public participation

20 Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
Deals with the effects of a proposed strategic action (policy, programme and plan) and identifies best practicable environmental option A decision-support tool Helps to incorporate sustainability principals in policy making process Provides a context for assessing cumulative effects of different projects or initiatives Provides context for screening projects for EIA (fully fledged EIA or Reviews) In the IEA context, SEA are policy responses.

21 Corporate environmental assessment and reporting
Management support tool (ISO certification) Response to statutory obligation or corporate social responsibility In the context of IEA, it is both an action and policy response

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