Regional Guidelines on Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Draft for Consultation and Comment
Version 22 August 2016

3.1 Objectives of EIA

  1. The key objectives of EIA are:
    • To ensure that environmental considerations are explicitly addressed and incorporated into the development decision-making process;
    • To anticipate and avoid, minimize, or offset the adverse significant biophysical, social and other relevant effects of development proposals;
    • To protect the productivity and capacity of natural systems and the ecological processes which maintain their functions; and
    • To promote development that is sustainable and optimizes resource use and management opportunities. [5]
  1. When responding to identified potential impacts of a project, the EIA needs to propose strategies to limit negative impacts on the environment, society, individuals and the economy. These strategies are commonly referred to as mitigation measures, but should be understood and proposed more comprehensively in terms of the mitigation hierarchy. The mitigation hierarchy, depicted in Figure 1, is most widely applied to the management of risks and impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services, but is applicable to all risks and impacts of a project proposal. It recognizes that the management of risks and impacts is most effective and efficient if it follows the logical sequence of: [6]
    • First – avoiding impacts before they can occur;
    • Second – when avoidance is not possible, minimizing the duration, intensity, significance and/or extent of impacts;
    • Third – when impacts occur, rehabilitating or restoring the environment, site and/or communities; and
    • Finally – where significant impacts remain, offsetting or compensating those impacts.

In cases where the impacts cannot be mitigated, the proposed project may not be permitted to proceed.

Figure 2: The mitigation hierarchy [7]

Achieving these objectives requires the application of a sound framework for EIAs based on a number of key principles.

[5] International Association for Impact Assessment (1999). Principles of Environmental Impact Assessment Best Practice,

[6] The Biodiversity Consultancy (2015). A Cross-Sector Guide for Implementing the Mitigation Hierarchy, Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative.

[7] Adapted from The Biodiversity Consultancy, Mitigation Hierarchy,