ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA)
AND
STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT (SEA)


The process known today as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) resulted from the raising of environmental awareness during 1950s and 1960s. During those two decades it became increasingly evident that many industrial and other projects were producing undesirable environmental consequences. In response to these problems, national governments and specialised international institutions and organisations expressed the need for a mechanism ensuring that the environmental consequences of all major projects and plans were examined before their execution.

Since then, various initiatives and efforts have been done to introduce EIA in planning and management activities, and a number of methods and procedures were made available to the countries. Unfortunately, from the standpoint of developing countries, these methods and procedures presented some shortcomings because they were conceived to satisfy the conventional "standards" of developed countries.

Responding to frequent requests for a simple and practical but still adequate EIA procedure, UNEP prepared, in co-operation with PAP/RAC and MAP, a simple and easily applicable approach which could be applied to assess or predict the environmental consequences of projects and activities proposed for a given site. This approach was tested on concrete case studies prepared by PAP/RAC in co-operation with relevant national authorities in Cyprus and Egypt, then published as volume No. 122 of UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies Series and presented during a large number of training courses organised by PAP/RAC throughout the Mediterranean region.

 


Simplified Flowchart for the EIA procedure

The last few years, it become evident that goals of sustainable development may be achieved only if, in addition to EIA of development projects, the environmental assessment of policies, plans and programmes is undertaken. Such an assessment applied at higher level of planning is known as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

Based on good experiences in carrying out the EIA-related activities, it was decided that the activities related to the implementation of SEA in the Mediterranean region would be included within the framework of PAP. During 1999/2000, PAP/RAC carried out the EU sponsored project "Introduction of Strategic Environmental Assessment in Planning System of Mediterranean Countries" whose objective was to evaluate the present experience in SEA implementation in the region and to prepare a programme of further activities on SEA within the MAP.

 

Publications/Documents

 
SADLER, B. 1999. Strategic Environmental Assessment: International Experience and its Potential Applications in Support of the Mediterranean Action Plan. Split: PAP/RAC. pp 25. ENG

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a promising approach to addressing the sources rather than just the symptoms of environmental deterioration. This process is still at a relatively early stage of development, comparable to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in 1980. However, it is evident already that SEA takes multiple forms and employs diverse methods and procedures. Experience in leading countries has reached a level that permits some initial lessons of practice to be drawn and broad provisional comparisons to be made about the utility of different approaches. At the same time, institutional and methodological issues remain outstanding including the applicability of SEA procedure and practice to developing countries. In this document, international experience with SEA is critically reviewed with reference to its potential applications in support of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) which is a co-operative framework of programmes and actions to achieve sustainable development in the region. The document is organised into four parts: (1) definition and perspective of SEA; (2) institutional arrangements for SEA that are in place or emerging; (3) trends in SEA practice, including principles and lessons of experience; and (4) opportunities and issues associated with the introduction and application of SEA in Mediterranean countries and in support of MAP aims and activities.

 

PAP/RAC. 1994. General Guidelines for the Preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment of Medium-Size and Small Industrial Projects and Zones in Coastal Areas/Directives générales pour l'évaluation de l'impact sur l'environnement des projets et zones industriels de petite et moyenne taille, situés en région côtière. PA-12/1994/GG.1. Split: PAP/RAC. pp 15. ENG/FRA/CRO

The medium- and small-scale industrial plants and zones may impact the coastal environment (surface waters, soil, ground water, flora and fauna, solid and liquid waste disposal systems and treatment plants, air quality, human health, etc.) in a variety of negative ways. The general guidelines presented in this document address all possible effects of the projects they refer to, and suggest the contents of the EIA document. Contained in an annex is a simplified flow chart describing various stages of the EIA procedure.

 
PAP/RAC. 1994. General Guidelines for the Preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment of Cage Mariculture Projects/Directives générales pour l'évaluation de l'impact sur l'environnement des projets d'élevage de poissons en cages. PA-12/1994/GG.2. Split: PAP/RAC. pp 14. ENG/FRA/CRO

Possible impacts of mariculture in cages on the environment can be grouped in a number of categories such as: accumulation of sediments beneath cages and impact on benthos; nutrient enrichment and the effects of algal blooms; bacteria; impacts of chemicals used in mariculture or introduced via construction material; genetic impacts on wild fish population, etc. This document focuses on the measures to be taken to prevent, reduce and eliminate negative impacts of mariculture operations on the benthos and water quality, indicates the physical, chemical and biological parameters which need to be measured, and proposes the contents of the EIA document.

 
PAP/RAC. 1994. General Guidelines for the Preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment of Lagoon-Like Mariculture Projects/Directives générales pour l'évaluation de l'impact sur l'environnement des projets d'aquaculture en milieux lagunaires. PA-12/1994/GG.3. Split: PAP/RAC. pp 17. ENG/FRA/CRO

After describing the main features of Mediterranean lagoon ecosystems, the document discusses various possible impacts of lagoon mariculture on the marine environment, particularly referring to: water quality, sediment, benthic macro fauna, algal growth, natural wildlife habitat, local currents and water flow, landscape value, public health, recreation activities, noise pollution and odors, navigation, and commercial fishing, In conclusion, the document proposes measures which need to be taken to prevent, reduce or eliminate negative impacts, as well as the contents of EIA report which has to be produced prior to setting up an aquaculture project in lagoon environments.

 
UNEP. 1991. Environmental Impact Assessment: Sewerage Treatment Plant for Port Said. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No. 133. Nairobi: UNEP. pp 32. ENG

The first two parts of the document contain an analysis of the case study and a description of procedures used in the environmental impact assessment. The third part presents the guidelines for EIA of sewage treatment plants adapted to the specific case of Port Said (Egypt). The fourth part of the document describes the characteristics of the site selected for the project, identifies its possible impacts, and proposes measures to prevent, reduce or mitigate its adverse effects. At the end, the document proposes a programme of monitoring the impact of the project on the environment.

 
UNEP. 1990. An Approach to Environmental Impact Assessment for Projects Affecting the Coastal and Marine Environment/Méthode pratique d'évaluation de l'impact sur l'environnement des projets qui touchent les zones côtières et le milieu marin. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No.122. Nairobi: UNEP. pp 35. ENG/FRA/CRO

The approach to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) outlined in this document is neither totally new nor comprehensive: it is limited to a narrowly defined practical and easily applicable methodology which could be used to assess or predict the positive and negative effects of a proposed project, plan or activity on the environment, and to provide the decision makers with information allowing them to approve, reject or modify the project, plan or activity under examination. After an introductory chapter which describes the characteristics and advantages of the proposed approach, the document explains the goals and principles of, and the procedure for EIA. The general guidelines for the preparation of an EIA document refer to five selected types of development project, namely: marina, tourist complex, sewage treatment plant for a city with between 100,000 and 1,000.000 inhabitants; sewage treatment plant for a city with between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants, and submarine sewerage outfall of a city of up to 100,000 inhabitants. The procedures and guidelines advocated in this document were tested through a series of concrete case studies (Paphos, Larnaca, Port Said, etc.).

 
UNEP. 1990. Environmental Impact Assessment: The Marina in Paphos. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No.130. Nairobi: UNEP. pp 45. ENG

The first two parts of the document offer an analysis of the case study (one of several through which the procedures and guidelines advocated by UNEP were tested), and a description of the procedures used in the Environmental Impact Assessment. Its third part presents the guidelines for the preparation of the EIA document for marinas, adjusted to the specific case of Paphos (Cyprus). The fourth part of the document describes the characteristics of the site selected for the project, identifies possible impacts of the project, and proposes measures to prevent, reduce or mitigate its adverse effects. At the end, the document proposes a programme of monitoring the impact of the project on the environment.

 
UNEP. 1990. Environmental Impact Assessment: Sea-Outfall for the Larnaca Sewerage System. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No. 131. Nairobi: UNEP. pp 46. ENG

The first two parts of the document contain an analysis of the case study and a description of procedures used in the environmental impact assessment. The third part presents the guidelines for EIA of submarine sewerage outfalls adapted to the specific case of Larnaca (Cyprus). The fourth part of the document describes the characteristics of the site selected for the Larnaca sewerage system sea-outfall, identifies possible impacts of the project, and proposes measures to prevent, reduce or mitigate its adverse effects. At the end, the document proposes a programme of monitoring the impact of the project on the environment.

 
 
 
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