Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
Finance of investment projects: ESIA and public consultation
EIA and public consultation
When asked to finance investment projects credit officers should, as part of the regulatory compliance check, verify that the customer has met any local or national requirements for environmental and social impact assessment, public information, consultation and disclosure that may apply to the activity proposed for financing.
Environmental Impact Assessment or Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (EIA or ESIAs in CEE countries ) or State Environmental Reviews (“ekspertisa” or OVOS in CIS countries) are generally required for investments involving a new, “greenfield” development or a significant expansion or modification of an existing facility before the proposed development may be authorised. National EIA/ekspertisa laws may cover a few social aspects (in particular cultural and archeological heritage) but typically do not require a full consideration of social impacts.
In most CEE countries, the national regulations on the EIA or ESIA process also require consultation with the public that may be affected by the project and prescribe the procedure for notification, public disclosure of the draft EIA (ESIA), and public review and comment. In CIS countries, such legislation is common but not evenly implemented, although many countries have committed internationally to involving the public in environmental decision-making on projects. For projects that require a national level EIA/ESIA or OVOS and which are located in a country which has ratified or acceded to the UNECE Aarhus Convention, credit officers should check the Chapter 6 of the Aarhus Convension for public consultation requirements
The preparation and financing of the EIA, including actions to address public consultation requirement is the responsibility of the borrower.
The following guidance is provided:
Projects requiring an EIA under EBRD Environmental and Social Policy
Appendix 1: Category A projects
This list applies to “greenfield” or major extension or transformation-conversion projects in the categories listed below. The list is indicative and the types of projects it contains are examples. The categorisation of each project will depend on the nature and extent of any actual or potential adverse environmental or social impacts, as determined by the specifics of its design, operation, and location.
Indicative EHSIA Structure for EBRD Category ‘A’ Projects
Concise summary description of the proposed project, its rationale, the existing environment, the area of influence, significant environmental and social impacts, issues and opportunities, summary of key aspects of the Environmental and Social Action Plan, residual risks/issues, nature of the client/projects’ systematic approach to managing the environmental and social aspects of the project including monitoring activities. Material information gaps or the need for further studies should be highlighted.
Outline the policy, legal and administrative context of the EHSIA summarising the Bank’s environmental and social requirements and the requirements of applicable regional/global conventions or agreements. The timeframe for and means by which disclosure of information and public consultation will be undertaken should be summarised with a reference made to the Stakeholder Engagement Plan. The timeframe for consideration of the project by EBRD’s Board should be outlined.
Precise up-to date description and delineation of the proposed project within its geographical, environmental and socio-economic context. This should include information on whether and how the project is part of a wider development programme including land use planning.
Project alternatives could also be considered on a consolidated basis in this section or else treated in later sections of the EHSIA document.
Description of the Existing Environment
A description of relevant aspects of the physical and natural environment, social and socio-economic conditions in the projects’ area of influence which will serve as the baseline for impact assessment. Existing receptors and sources of impact should be described as appropriate.
Identify the potential environmental and social impacts that could be associated with the proposed project and its feasible alternatives including those of an indirect and cumulative nature. Through a process of reasoned argumentation, impacts which are unlikely to arise or be insignificant should be discounted.
Analysis of Alternatives
A systematic comparison of feasible alternatives to the project in terms of location, project technology or design in terms of potential environmental impact. This should include the ‘do-nothing’ option. Where appropriate, a least-cost analysis of alternative forms of production should be conducted (for energy generation projects for example).
Characterisation of Impacts and Issues
This section should identify and characterise positive and negative environmental impacts in terms of magnitude, significance, reversibility, extent and duration. The possibility for cumulative impacts should also be considered. Quantitative data should be employed to the extent possible. The chapter should also identify opportunities for environmental enhancement and identify key uncertainties and data gaps.
Environmental and social impacts should be identified and characterised for relevant stages of the project cycle such as:
Where third parties such as contractors are involved, their roles and capacity and the degree of control the project can exert over them should be considered.
Supply chain issues central to the project’s core functions should be considered where the resource utilised by the project is ecologically sensitive, or where low labour cost is a material factor related to project competitiveness.
Environmental Impacts and Issues
Social Impacts and Issues
Community health and socio-economic impacts and issues are likely to occur over different time scales and may well be inter-related with each other and environmental ones; hence the need for integrated impact assessment.
Labour and Working Conditions
Refer to PR 2.
Community Health, Safety and Security
The EHSIA may need to identify how the Project could influence the health of the affected communities. There are a number of effects that need to be considered:
It is important that there is initial baseline information on the health situation of the community within the area of impact. This will enable changes in health condition to be more accurately measured and attributed.
Projects related to the development and use of resources can often lead to creation of tensions within and between communities; particularly in situations where the affected population is characterized by low levels of economic development and there is a struggle for access to resources. Using the information on socio-economic characteristics and social dynamics, the base line should look at whether there is a need to carry out a detailed conflict analysis. Issues to consider include:
The SIA needs to aware of existing social and economic tensions and the potential for the project to create a situation where these tensions may be exacerbated leading to creation of conflict.
Social impacts are often experienced very differently between men and women. Rather than carry out a separate gender analysis, the aim of the SIA should be to mainstream gender so that it is considered in all stages of analysis. In certain circumstances a project may adversely impact men rather than women, due either to the nature of the project or the socio-cultural and economic context of a society. What is important in a gender analysis is to understand the differential impact on men and women. Questions that need to be asked include:
If the scoping study shows the presence of indigenous peoples (IP), then the detailed information in the baseline should determine whether an indigenous peoples plan is required. See EBRD Performance Requirement 7 for detailed requirements related to projects impacting on IPs.
Mitigation and Management of Impacts and Issues
This section should outline feasible cost-effective measures to prevent or minimise environmental impacts to acceptable levels and address other environmental issues such as the need for worker health and safety improvements, inter-agency coordination, community involvement, institutional strengthening or training within the executing agency/ governmental agencies/project sponsor or at the community level. It should also outline measures which would enhance environmental aspects within the area affected by the project. The chapter should characterise the nature of any residual environmental impacts or issues that have not been addressed. Financial provisions for potential risks should also be described (for example escrow accounts and insurance cover to provide for inter alia abandonment and decommissioning, site remediation and oil spills and other emergencies).
With regard to social issues, mitigation measures should be developed in relation to policy frameworks, both domestic and/or international. Domestic policy frameworks could be national or local government level, for example where a country has a poverty reduction strategy in place, or where policies are being developed with regard to agricultural development. It may relate to development of other infrastructure such as roads or energy supply improvements. Particularly in the case of education and health it is important that mitigation measures are linked to public sector provision in order to maximise positive impact and ensure sustainability. International policy frameworks could be those established by organisations such a UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR and/or WHO.
Residual Impacts and Risks
The nature of key residual impacts should be described and the significance assessed.
Environmental risks such as the potential for accidents and incidents (such as oil spills, explosions, contaminant release, dam failure etc) to arise should be considered. Proposed contingency planning and measures should be described and their adequacy evaluated.
Social risks are very context specific and could include factors such as:
Environmental and Social Opportunities for Project Enhancement
Whilst social impact assessments are generally concerned with mitigation of negative impacts, they also present an opportunity for impacted people to take advantage of and benefit positively from the Project. Areas of benefit may include:
Each project will have its particular opportunity for facilitating development gains and these need to be considered carefully in consultation with the community. In exploring the strategy for development opportunities, particular attention needs to be given to vulnerable categories within the area of impact. Unless very specific measures are taken, they are likely to be excluded from development gains. Annex A on vulnerable people assessment considers this in more detail. It is important to remember that particularly with this group of people, participatory or community demand driven approach to will not necessarily ensure that they are included in the benefits. Moreover, special measures may be required to enable certain categories to take part in activities, for example employment of disabled people may require the setting of special facilities.
Action Plans and Management Systems
Management plans, programmes and systems to address in an integrated and comprehensive fashion environmental and social impacts, issues and opportunities should be established with clearly stated outcomes or targets, timeframes, responsibilities and resources required. The Bank has issued a Guidance Note on Environmental and Social Action Plans which can assist in this respect.
The Plan needs to embrace adaptive management and include appropriate monitoring activities to ensure that:
Monitoring should focus upon key indicators of project performance and social and environmental impact. Indicators should be aligned to elements of the existing pre-project baseline and be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and conducted at an appropriate frequency.
Provision also needs to be made for:
Scoping and the Identification of Vulnerable Groups
An output of the scoping study should be to identify the broad categories of vulnerable people present in the projects’ area of influence.
Categories are not always easy to define and may be area specific. For example an ethnic group in one area may be vulnerable, but not in another area. At the stage of the scoping study, it is necessary only to identify potential for vulnerability. Categories may also not be visible and/or ‘hidden’.
The list of categories can be grouped into different types of vulnerability as follows:
Baseline Socio-economic Characteristics
Collecting both quantitative data and qualitative data allows for an understanding of the socio-economic characteristics of the vulnerable categories represented in the area of influence and their relationship with the rest of the community. The table below presents an indicative format for the range of socio-economic information and its presentation.
Guidance for Local Disclosure of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)
The EBRD believes that meaningful public consultation is a way of improving the quality of projects. Through the timely disclosure of project information, EBRD helps to ensure accountability, transparency, improved decision making and openness. As described in more detail below, borrowers seeking finance from one of EBRD’s FIs for a project that would be classified “Category A” according to EBRD’s Environmental Policy are required to make the EIA report publicly available at or near the location of the project. Making project-specific information available helps inform affected local people, the business community and other interested constituencies about prospective investment activities of the FI. Public consultation and information disclosure is the responsibility of the borrower.
All “Category A” projects to be financed by an FI must, at a minimum, meet national requirements for public consultation and disclosure of EIAs or other environmental information on the project proposed for financing. The following information is meant to provide guidance on how borrowers should handle the local disclosure of the EIA report, particularly if national law does not require such disclosure.
The borrower is responsible for releasing the EIA report publicly in a location at or near the project site which is accessible to locally affected communities. Disclosure should be in the local language and culturally appropriate. For some people, written communication may not be an effective means of transmitting the information. The EIA report should include a non-technical summary covering, at a minimum: physical characteristics of the proposed activity, significant effects on the environment and local communities and measures envisaged to prevent/reduce such effects.
The following Question and Answer (Q&A) guidance is aimed at providing practical advice and identifying local release mechanisms of the EIA report
Where does the borrower “release” the EIA?
It is the borrower’s responsibility to ensure that the ERS is properly distributed in the public domain and easily accessible. There are a number of methods that can be used to achieve this requirement. Depending on the local culture, the EIA could be held at the project site, in the local library, and municipal or government office(s). In more rural or remote areas, the EIA may be more easily accessible in a local store or post office or a venue where locally affected people often gather.
How does the borrower announce the dislosure of the EIA report?
The announcement should be in accordance with local political, legal and cultural practice and customs. It should state the nature of the proposed project, where the EIA will be released, and for what period of time. In many cases, publishing a small announcement in the newspaper with the widest circulation and readership of the locally affected people will be adequate. Posting an announcement in a newspaper provides readily available information on where and how local people may get access to the ERS.
What if the people can not read?
In situations where locally affected people can not read, whereby announcement in a newspaper may be ineffectual, other means of disclosing the EIA should be agreed on a case-by-case basis (oral dissemination of the EIA may be required in these instances, e.g. via radio).
What if the project is in an area where people speak more than one language?
The borrower should check if the language in which the EIA report was written is the same as the majority language of the people directly affected by the project. If this is not the case, the borrower is responsible for ensuring that the EIA is translated properly and professionally into the language spoken by the majority of the potentially affected people. The borrower may want to contract the services of a professional translator which would require advance preparation and planning. For some projects in remote areas, workers may be the only people affected by a project, and this needs to be taken into account if minority languages are spoken.
How long should the EIA remain in the public domain?
In the absence of legal requirements, this will depend to some extent on the number of potentially affected people and the physical size of the area affected by the project but typically, the EIA report should be in the public domain for at least 28 days in order to give the potentially affected people a fair chance to review and “digest” the EIA report.
Providing a mechanism for dialogue – from public disclosure to public consultation
Public information disclosure is only one part of effective public consultation. For a number of reasons it is in the interest of the borrower to be aware of any comments member of the public may have on the project and to provide them with a forum to discuss their comments with the project management: local people may, e.g., have valuable knowledge of the project site and surrounding; or they may bring to the borrower’s attention further potential impacts or problems that, if unmitigated, would adversely affect local communities or the environment. Borrowers are therefore strongly advised to go beyond mere “disclosure” and also provide a feedback mechanism for public comments in line with good international practice. This would involve:
When should the disclosure happen in relation to the FI’s financing decision?
The public disclosure and consultation process should be completed well before the financing decision so that the FI management, in their final appraisal of the transaction, can take into account any feedback from the public, and how this is being addressed by the borrower.
What resources are available to assist?
Staff of EBRD’s Environment and Sustainability Department can assist with defining the affected stakeholders and translation and disclosure issues for the specific project. In addition, there are a number of tools available that may be useful, such as the IFC’s publication: Doing Better Business Through Effective Public Consultation and Disclosure: A Good Practice Manual, which is available on their website www.ifc.org. (The relevant direct link is http://www.ifc.org/enviro/Publications/Practice/practice.htm.)