EIA, as a process used by all governments in the Mekong region, is internationally recognized as an important tool to assess and analyze the potential impacts of proposed development projects on the environment and society and to develop ways to avoid, mitigate, and manage those potential impacts. It is also seen as a process to identify and respond to key concerns by Project Affected People (PAP) and other stakeholders. Effective EIAs can help avoid or mitigate social conflicts that may otherwise arise from a project that is developed with limited forewarning or involvement of local communities to consider their needs and concerns.
The entire EIA process, inclusive of effective public participation as described in this Guideline, must be completed before any formal approval is given for a project proposal. This is critical given that one of the main objectives of EIA is to ensure the negative impacts of proposals are avoided or mitigated before they arise. This therefore necessitates that project construction or implementation activities should not be carried out prior to the completion of the EIA process.