Environmental Impact Assessments

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is an instrument to identify and assess the potential environmental and social impacts of a proposed project, evaluate alternatives, and design appropriate mitigation, management, and monitoring measures. An EIA/ESIA should: (a) include a policy, legal, and administrative framework within which the EA is carried out; (b) concisely describe the proposed project and its geographic, ecological, social, and temporal context, including any offsite investments that may be required; (c) assess the dimensions of the project study area and describe relevant physical, biological, and socioeconomic conditions, including any changes anticipated before the project commences and taking into account current and proposed development activities within the project area but not directly connected to the project; (d) assess the project's likely positive and negative environmental and social impacts, in quantitative terms to the extent possible, identifying mitigation measures and any residual negative impacts that cannot be mitigated, and exploring opportunities for environmental enhancement; (e) assess feasible alternatives to the proposed project site, technology, design, and operation including the "without project" situation; and (f) presents an environmental management plan which covers mitigation measures, monitoring, and institutional strengthening. The assessment should be commensurate and proportional with the potential risks and impacts of the project and assess in an integrated way all relevant direct, indirect and cumulative environmental and social risks and impacts during each stage of the project cycle. The assessment provides an excellent mechanism to improve overall environmental sustainability by exploring options for more sustainable mitigation measures or approaches and increasing positive environmental and social impacts (benefits).