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

Draft for Consultation and Comment
Version 22 August 2016

3.4 Key steps of EIA and Public participation

  1. EIA systems and project development in the Mekong Region generally follow a standard process regarding EIA implementation. The following steps are identified as key parts of the EIA process where public participation is particularly relevant:
    1. Screening - the process of reviewing a project proposal to determine whether an environmental impact assessment, or any other form of environmental assessment, is required before the project can proceed to implementation.
    2. Scoping - the process to determine the scope of the EIA and the data needed to be collected and analyzed in order to assess the impacts of the project proposal on the environment, which results in establishing a terms of reference (ToR) for the EIA.
    3. EIA Investigation and Preparation of an EIA Report - the step that involves identifying and evaluating potential impacts and risks of a project proposal.
    4. Review of EIA Report and EMMP - consideration of the EIA Report by the relevant EIA Authority.
    5. Decision-making on the EIA Report - the formal decision made by the lawfully determined decision-maker (typically the EIA Authority) about whether to approve an EIA report (and associated documentation, including the EMMP) or not, noting that other regulatory permits, licenses or approvals may also subsequently be required for the project proposal to proceed to implementation.
    6. Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement - direct and indirect activities, undertaken internally or externally, to identify actual activities, impacts and overall performance of a project and the comparison of these findings to commitments in the EIA report and EMMP.
Figure 3: Key steps in the EIA process and public participation
  1. Best practice for each of these steps provides for participation by PAP and other relevant stakeholders. These six steps are therefore used as the key focal areas for the organization of this Guideline.
  1. It should be noted that many EIA systems employ two levels of environmental assessment, depending on the nature, size and scale of the project proposal and the extent of its potential impacts. The first level is referred to in a number of Mekong region countries as an Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) and can be used instead of, or preceding, an EIA. In general terms, the main distinction between IEEs (or their equivalents) and EIAs is that IEEs are more streamlined and shorter processes than full EIAs. Both IEEs and EIAs should involve meaningful public participation throughout the processes, but the nature of the public participation mechanisms may be different depending on which level of environmental assessment is followed. These Guidelines address public participation in EIAs because they are the more comprehensive form of assessment, regularly involving more steps than IEEs, and because project proposals subject to EIAs generally have the greater potential risks and impacts, making public participation even more important.

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