Environmental Assessments

An Environmental Assessment (EA) is an instrument to help improve decision making and ensure that projects and programs are environmentally sound and sustainable. EA is a process whose breadth, depth, and type of analysis depend on the nature, scale, and potential environmental impact of the proposed project or program. EA evaluates a project's potential environmental risks and impacts in its area of influence; examines project alternatives; identifies ways of improving project selection, siting, planning, design, and implementation by preventing, minimizing, mitigating, or compensating for adverse environmental impacts and enhancing positive impacts; and includes the process of mitigating and managing adverse environmental impacts throughout project implementation. The EA process should assess both the negative and positive environmental and social risks and impacts of the project during each stage of the project cycle. EA takes into account the natural environment (e.g., air, water, and land); human health and safety; social aspects (e.g., involuntary resettlement, indigenous peoples, physical and cultural resources, etc.); and transboundary and global environmental aspects. 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. There are various types of EAs, including Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA), Cumulative Environmental Assessments (CEA), and Environmental Audit. An EA may be performed at a project, program or policy level as well as at a regional or sectoral level.  

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