International Development Planning Review

Environmental impact assessment in developing countries

International Development Planning Review (2003), 25, (3), 301–321.

Abstract

Developing country environmental impact assessment (EIA) dates back to the mid-1970s and, although it varies significantly from country to country, its performance generally falls far behind that of EIA in developed countries. It is crucial that this performance be improved in order to help to protect the environment of three-quarters of the world's land area. This paper reviews developing country EIA against a set of robust evaluation criteria to determine its strengths and weaknesses. The criteria relate to legal basis; coverage; consideration of alternatives; screening; scoping; EIA report preparation; EIA report review; decision making; impact monitoring; mitigation; consultation and participation; system monitoring; costs and benefits; and strategic environmental assessment (SEA). Developing country EIA meets few of the 14 evaluation criteria, and recommendations relating to each are advanced. Urgent generic issues relating to training and capacity building, diffusion of EIA experience, donor policy and political will also need to be addressed if EIA is to fulfil its potential

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Wood, Christopher