A proposed framework which was introduced at the 1989 meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science included political constraints as well as population growth as a proximate cause with potentially important impacts on the environment in Paul and Ann Ehrlichs well-known PAT equation. PAT limitations are identified as the 1.2 billion people caught in the debt-poverty trap less developed countries balance of payments deficits and "distortionary factors" that undermined economic incentives and contributed to mismanagement of resources. Such factors could be keeping farm prices low and have an impact on deterring use of environmentally sound traditional agricultural practices. Mismanagement of public lands occurs when large commercial enterprises or large scale mechanization displace population onto marginal or less productive lands. Intergroup warfare is a new form impacting on the environment. In Burma loggers are authorized to clear cut large tracts of teak forests in order to ferret out Karen guerrillas. Over 15 million refugees were thus displaced and forced to live in encampments that require trees for shelter firewood for survival and overgrazing of livestock. Social and economic environments are also undermined by "dependency" factors such as trade protectionism brain drain and limited foreign aid. The Group of 77 Non-Aligned Developing Countries proposed that discussions of the links between population and the environment be omitted from the agenda of the 1994 UN Conference on Population and Development. Basic clarifications are needed to distinguish ultimate versus proximate factors and current versus future concerns. The debate ignores distribution patterns migration or changing age structures. The debate blames unjustifiably rapid population growth as the ultimate cause of global environmental degradation and links population growth to a host of other social problems such as famine and refugees while ignoring civil unrest. The evidence suggests that population limitation will probably prevent environmental degradation in poor resource constrained countries from getting worse. Resource conservation will remain unaffected. The World Bank proposes National Environmental Action Plans or the Cleaver Schreiber proposal for a "nexus strategy" for balancing food supply and population in Africa.
Actual and systematic application of environmental assessment in the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley (Italy) since 1991 enables to analyse a sizeable number of studies accumulated over a decade of experience and to study their evolution in time. The peculiarity of these studies, something quite rare in Italy, is the fact that they are both standard EIA on individual projects and SEA studies, since they were carried out on urban planning techniques. This research analyses a statistical sample with two groups, initial-wave studies (1991–1992) and more recent ones (1997–1998), by means of characteristic profiles emphasising both content and differences. To better correlate the research and its regional context, we present a brief geoeconomic description and a concise summary of local provisions on the subject of environmental impact evaluation. The results of the analysis, done with innovative multivariate methods for environmental reviewing, are discussed at three progressive levels of conceptual investigation, also to underline the importance of adopting a set-oriented perspective. Having emphasised both limitations and scope of the adopted method, the final conclusions include some suggestions on to improve study management on a regional scale.
The paper evaluates transport policy making and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) practice in the city regions of Liverpool (Merseyside), Amsterdam (Regional Body of Amsterdam, ROA) and Berlin at two points in time; 2002 and 1997. By 2002, all three examined regions had abolished either 1997 policy-SEA practice or the intention to conduct policy-SEA. Furthermore, between 1997 and 2002, the three regions had been moving away from a possible ‘window of opportunity’ to formalise policy-SEA. Finally, transport policies in 2002 were found to be less strategic and more project-oriented than those in 1997.
The EU Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC requires impact assessments called Appropriate Assessments (AA) for plans and projects probably having adverse effects on the sites of European ecological importance, Natura 2000 sites. Seventy-three Appropriate Assessment reports and seventy official opinions given on them by regional environmental authorities from 1997 to 2005 were reviewed. The findings of the study demonstrate typical shortcomings of ecological impact assessment: a weak information basis for assessment outcomes and lack of proper cumulative impact assessment with respect to ecological structures and processes. The quality of reporting has improved over time with respect to direct impacts on individual habitat types and species and detailed mitigation measures. Regional environment centres considered one fifth of the AA reports to be inadequate because of lacking data. In most cases the regional environment centres demanded a change of plan or project, added mitigation measures, choice of only one alternative for further planning or a new completed assessment with additional information in order to be able to evaluate the significance of the effects. The study underlines the need for iterative planning practices in which the preparation of a plan or project with alternative options goes hand in hand with the impact assessment equipped with sufficient data.
Biodiversity has become one of the central environmental issues in the framework of recent policies and international conventions for the promotion of sustainable development. The reduction of habitat worldwide is currently considered as the main threat to biodiversity conservation. Transportation infrastructures, and above all road networks, are blamed for highly contributing to the decrease in both the quantity and the quality of natural habitat. Therefore, a sound Biodiversity Impact Assessment (BIA) in road planning and development needs to be coupled to other commonly considered aspects. This paper presents an approach to contribute to BIA of road projects that focuses on one type of impact: the direct loss of ecosystems. The first step consists in mapping the different ecosystem types, and in evaluating their relevance for biodiversity conservation. This is based on the assessment of ecosystem's rarity. Rarity is a measure of how frequently an ecosystem type is found within a given area. Its relevance is confirmed by the fact that the protection of rare ecosystems is often considered as the single most important function of biodiversity conservation. Subsequently, the impact of a road project can be quantified by spatially computing the expected losses of each ecosystem type. To illustrate the applicability of the methodology, a case study is presented dealing with the assessment of alternative routes for a highway development in northern Italy.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the risk to the aquatic environment of 90 chemicals referenced by a European directive. We applied the SIRIS method (System of Integration of Risk with Interaction of Scores), an original mathematical method first described some years ago. It is a scoring system highly appropriate for the estimation of environmental risk. This method, based on four exposure criteria and four effect criteria, was highly efficient for risk assessment and made it possible to display various groups of chemicals and to classify them. This article describes the principles of the SIRIS method and its value for such a concrete application.
Health impact assessment (HIA), a methodology that aims to facilitate the mitigation of negative and enhancement of positive health effects due to projects, programmes and policies, has been developed over the past 20–30 years. There is an underlying assumption that HIA has become a full fledged critical piece of the impact assessment process with a stature equal to both environmental and social impact assessments. This assumption needs to be supported by evidence however. Within the context of projects in developing country settings, HIA is simply a slogan without a clearly articulated and relevant methodology, offered by academia and having little or no salience in the decision-making process regarding impacts. This harsh assertion is supported by posing a simple question: “Where in the world have HIAs been carried out?” To answer this question, we systematically searched the peer-reviewed literature and online HIA-specific databases. We identified 237 HIA-related publications, but only 6% of these publications had a focus on the developing world. What emerges is, therefore, a huge disparity, which we coin the 6/94 gap in HIA, even worse than the widely known 10/90 gap in health research (10% of health research funding is utilized for diseases causing 90% of the global burden of disease). Implications of this 6/94 gap in HIA are discussed with pointed emphasis on extractive industries (oil/gas and mining) and water resources development. We conclude that there is a pressing need to institutionalize HIA in the developing world, as a consequence of current predictions of major extractive industry and water resources development, with China's investments in these sectors across Africa being particularly salient.
This article explores the nature of public participation in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process in the context of the potential integration of the Aarhus Convention principles into the UK EIA system. Although the Convention advocates ‘early’ and ‘effective’ participation, these terms remain undefined and questions persist about exactly how to implement the Aarhus principles. Ten practice evaluation criteria derived from the Aarhus Convention are used to analyse the public participation procedures used in four UK waste disposal EIA case studies. The paper reports the extent to which the practice evaluation criteria were fulfilled, explores the types and effectiveness of the participation methods used in the EIAs, and highlights some of the key barriers that appear to impede the execution of ‘early’ and ‘effective’ participation programmes. It concludes that the Aarhus Convention will undoubtedly lead to a strengthening of participation procedures but that the level of improvement secured will depend upon how its ideals are interpreted and incorporated into legislation and practice.
The high elevational areas in the Himalayas of India are dominated by forests and alpine pastures. There are many protected areas in the region, including Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR) and Valley of Flowers (VOF) where natural resource management plan (NRMP) has been implemented for the conservation of biodiversity. This has affected the traditional animal husbandry system, as well as the vegetation dynamics of alpine pastures. An integrated approach to studying the impact of NRMP in the region has been applied by us. First, a survey was conducted regarding livestock management, data pertaining the livestock husbandry, the role of animal husbandry in economics of rural household, and socioeconomics. Second, field based study on phytosociology of some important alpine herbs was done to enumerate the density and species richness in different land mark of the region. Thereafter, satellite data and Geographic Information System (GIS) were used to develop a land cover map of the area and to note changes in the landscape over time after implementation of NRMP. From an economic point of view the implementation of such plan is a setback to the rural economy. However, the ecological perspective of such models is a threat to the diversity of alpine pastures. The invasion of bushes/thorny bushes/shrubs and weeds with their luxuriant growth is changing the vegetation index and dynamics. Consequently, the diversity of herbs in alpine pastures of the Himalayan Mountains is in jeopardy. Overall, the situation is leading to landscape change in the region. This study is helpful for generating useful outcomes and strategies considering the question or debate “is grazing good or bad for pasture ecosystems in the Himalayas?”.
Over the past two decades, increasing attention has been devoted to the concept of cumulative environmental effects. Cumulative effects are the additive and interactive impacts that may result from human activities that are repeated over time and space. In many cases, numerous small, independent actions considered to be individually insignificant can eventually lead to substantial and sometimes irreversible changes in the environment. Public awareness of such impacts is often minimal, until such time as a critical point or threshold is exceeded. By this time the environmental and social consequences may be considerable. Habitat loss and fragmentation, climate modification, soil loss, declines in water quantity and quality, and pesticide accumulation are just a few of the areas in which cumulative effects have become a major concern. Recently proclaimed Canadian environmental assessment laws impose new requirements to identify and address cumulative effects. So far, however, considerable uncertainty exists as to how these statutory requirements will or should be carried out. This uncertainty is compounded by the constitutional requirement to recognize and protect various traditional aboriginal rights. The Canadian Constitution recently has been interpreted to protect the right of aboriginal people to engage in traditional sustenance-oriented hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering activities. Moreover, following a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in late 1997, aboriginal people are now entitled to assert rights of exclusive use and occupation to land under the emerging legal concept of aboriginal title. The struggle by aboriginal peoples for legal recognition of these rights has been long and difficult. A growing number of aboriginal communities have voiced concerns that these newly recognized rights are being threatened by the cumulative environmental effects of resource development and human settlement. Paradoxically, just as the quest for traditional rights recognition is coming to fruition, the ability of aboriginal peoples to exercise these rights appears to be eroding. The purpose of this article is to examine how the concept of cumulative effects, together with the legal imperative to protect traditional aboriginal rights, can and must transform environmental decision-making. It is in four parts. Part I explores the meaning and policy implications of the concept of cumulative environmental impacts. Part II is an introduction to the legal and historical basis for aboriginal rights. Part III seeks to illustrate the challenges, and the necessity, of reforming environmental decision-making by use of a case-study involving a controversy over logging in traditional aboriginal territory. In Part IV we offer some concluding observations in the implications of our analysis for environmental assessment and decision-making.
During the last decade a number of environmental agreements (EAs) have been negotiated in Canada involving industry, government and Aboriginal peoples. This article draws on the Canadian experience to consider the potential of such negotiated agreements to address two issues widely recognised in academic and policy debates on environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management. The first relates to the need to secure indigenous participation in environmental management of major projects that affect indigenous peoples. The second and broader issue involves the necessity for specific initiatives to ensure effective follow-up of EIA. The Canadian experience indicates that negotiated environmental agreements have considerable potential to address both issues. However, if this potential is to be realized, greater effort must be made to develop structures and processes specifically designed to encourage Aboriginal participation; and EAs must themselves provide the financial and other resource required to support EIA follow-up and Aboriginal participation.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) went into effect in the United States on January 1, 1970, just over 25 years ago. In light of this milestone, a survey of academics on the effectiveness of NEPA has been conducted regarding the preparation of environmental assessments (EAs) or environmental impact statements (EISs). This paper summarizes the results of a survey of 31 academics in 12 disciplines from 21 states; the majority of which have over 20 years of experience in teaching, research and/or practice of the NEPA process. Several strengths of NEPA were identified, most importantly that NEPA encourages agencies and decision makers: (1) to acknowledge potential environmental consequences to the public, thus opening up the decision process; and (2) to think about environmental consequences before resources are committed. Surveyed participants also prioritized needs for improvement; the five most important were: (1) post-EIS follow-up in monitoring, implementation of mitigation measures, ecosystem management, and environmental auditing; (2) methodological approaches for addressing cumulative impacts and reductions in institutional barriers to analysis of cumulative impacts; (3) training of federal personnel implementing NEPA; (4) earlier considerations of NEPA in project planning and decision making; and (5) the integrated consideration of biophysical and social/economic sciences, along with risk assessment, in NEPA. While this survey was focused on the NEPA process in the United States, the identified issues have implications for the worldwide practice of environmental impact assessment. Finally, recommendations are described that are primarily associated with guidance, possible modifications in the NEPA process and follow-on training.
The construction of new infrastructure is hotly contested. This paper presents a comparative study on three environmental policy domains in the Netherlands that all deal with legitimising building and locating infrastructure facilities. Such infrastructure is usually declared essential to environmental policy and claimed to serve sustainability goals. They are considered to serve (proclaimed) public interests, while the adverse impact or risk that mainly concerns environmental values as well is concentrated at a smaller scale, for example in local communities. The social acceptance of environmental policy infrastructure is institutionally determined. The institutional capacity for learning in infrastructure decision-making processes in the following three domains is compared:
Impact assessment professionals have traditionally written documents for themselves. Often, their work appears to be received with indifference by business professionals and decision makers who have different needs and interests. The two groups conflict when they should be thinking and planning together at the “big picture” level (including the understanding of the social factors at work in environmental impact assessment) and developing related and workable “site-specific” implementation that characterizes socially acceptable decision making.
Presently, Nigeria is one of the fastest growing Telecom markets in the world. The country's teledensity increased from a mere 0.4 in 1999 to 10 in 2005 following the liberalization of the Telecom sector in 2001. More than 25 million new digital mobile lines have been connected by June 2006. Large quantities of mobile phones and accessories including secondhand and remanufactured products are being imported to meet the pent-up demand. This improvement in mobile telecom services resulted in the preference of mobile telecom services to fixed lines. Consequently, the contribution of fixed lines decreased from about 95% in year 2000 to less than 10% in March 2005. This phenomenal progress in information technology has resulted in the generation of large quantities of electronic waste (e-waste) in the country. Abandoned fixed line telephone sets estimated at 120,000 units are either disposed or stockpiled. Increasing quantities of waste mobile phones estimated at 8 million units by 2007, and accessories will be generated. With no material recovery facility for e-waste and/or appropriate solid waste management infrastructure in place, these waste materials end up in open dumps and unlined landfills. These practices create the potential for the release of toxic metals and halocarbons from batteries, printed wiring boards, liquid crystal display and plastic housing units. This paper presents an overview of the developments in the Nigerian Telecom sector, the material in-flow of mobile phones, and the implications of the management practices for wastes from the Telecom sector in the country.
Although administrative procedures dealing with direct human health risks arising from a nuclear accident are in place in Canada, little thought has apparently been given to the administration of disaster policies when agricultural land would be affected. Evidence now emerging from Europe in the wake of Chernobyl suggests that major costs can arise from the disruption of agricultural production. The design and administration of the disaster policy can significantly affect the short-term costs associated with such a nuclear accident as well as the long-term productivity of the agricultural resource base. A specific case from the British Chernobyl experience is presented by way of example. Given the large amounts of data now becoming available from Europe, formal Canadian planning should be undertaken. As ultimate responsibility for compensation lies with the federal government, formal planning could provide for considerable savings to Canadian taxpayers in the event of a nuclear accident.
Business reviews of the forest industry in British Colombia, Canada, typically portray an unequivocally positive picture of its financial and economic health. In doing so, they fail to consider the following six categories of social impacts and costs: (1) direct and indirect subsidies; (2) government support through investment; (3) community dependence; (4) the maintenance of public order; (5) aboriginal title; and (6) the overestimation of employment. Our findings show that conventional economic and financial accounting methods inflate the industry's net contribution to the economy. We make a number of recommendations to address this shortcoming to improve future accounting and reporting procedures.
Integrated — economic, environmental, and social — assessment tools can provide a clear indication of both the positive and the negative impacts of trade liberalisation from which effective policies to reduce the negative impacts and strengthen the positive ones can be developed. Assessments feeding into the policy development process can promote increased integration of environmental and social considerations into macroeconomic policies and decision-making, leading to a more sustainable use of resources and increased social welfare. Although assessment tools are available, there is a need to encourage their greater adoption and use, as well as to develop and apply improved country- and sector-specific tools. This paper reviews the opportunities and challenges of promoting wider application of assessment tools and of international adoption of more proactive policies to support sustainable development.
The siting of hazardous waste facilities is complex, controversial, time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes impossible. Pressures for and against these facilities are immense. California is developing the “Tanner process,” a one-stop concept in which a single agency serves as the focal point (lead agency) for all the state institutions involved. In this paper I review the experience gained to date with the proposal for the largest liquid toxic waste incinerator proposed for California. I present positive and negative aspects of the process, and draw some policy conclusions. I explore a key policy goal: the search for win/win solutions such that both the community and industry come out ahead environmentally and economically. The experience, especially the approach to negotiation/discussion, is a model for possible use elsewhere in California and the nation.
There is a fundamental assertion by indigenous communities, which is now beginning to be recognized globally, that “we belong to the land.” The position of indigenous people, both locally and globally, as traditional knowledge holders and legal entities with rights and title to lands is challenging the authority of nation states in the development and management of lands and resources. International bodies, such as the United Nations and World Bank, continually place emphasis on bridging the implementation gap between the inclusion and exclusion of indigenous communities in public policy. However, increasing tensions exhibited between indigenous nations and nation states continue to surface. Much needs to be written about the shortsightedness of state governments that continue to ignore indigenous rights and title and the perils that await them. This paper will focus on a small part of this larger question, examining the emerging struggle of legal recognition of indigenous title, rights and cosmologies into the Canadian body politics as it relates to environmental policy. In addition to broad policy implications associated with the acceptance of indigenous people's knowledge, there are also ethical issues of “integrating” traditional knowledge as well as practical problems with “implementing” traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) into legal and regulatory environmental regimes, practices and policies. A significant new way to examine these questions is to examine them through an Aboriginal resource planning approach. This approach will be formalized in relations to current activity in British Columbia, Canada, where Aboriginal communities and two levels of Canadian government are negotiating a balance between indigenous and state aspirations to find complimentary and sustainable mechanisms for environmental assessments.
“Environmental justice” refers to the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws. Fair treatment means that minority and low-income groups should not bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental impacts of government actions. Recent studies have shown that, in the United States, some government decisions have adversely affected low-income and minority communities disproportionately to the rest of society. To avoid such inequities in future federal activities, President Clinton issued Executive Order (EO) 12898, which requires federal agencies to consider environmental justice in carrying out their missions. Guidance issued by the Executive Office of the President requires every federal agency to consider environmental justice in conducting impact evaluations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Thus, an “environmental justice analysis” is a highly focused form of social impact assessment that must be conducted within the framework of NEPA. The specific purpose of such an analysis is to determine whether a proposed federal activity would impact low-income and minority populations to a greater extent than it would impact a community's general population. This article explains the development and implementation of EO 12898 and explores what federal agencies are doing to incorporate environmental justice into their NEPA procedures. It also includes recommendations for other authorities to consider when incorporating environmental justice into their environmental impact assessments (EIAs).
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR 1500–1508) for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) do not define the “no-action alternative,” stating only that NEPA analyses shall “include the alternative of no action” (40 CFR 1502.14). The definition of the no-action alternative for newly proposed actions seems clear (i.e., the agency will not implement the proposed action or alternative actions). However, for continuing actions, the meaning of the no-action alternative is ambiguous (i.e., continue the activity without modification or discontinue the activity). This article examines the overall function of the no-action alternative for NEPA analyses of continuing actions. It begins with a discussion of the conflicting definitions of the no-action alternative for continuing activities, including CEQ regulations and guidelines related to the no-action alternative and legal decisions that have helped establish precedence for defining no action. A review of NEPA regulations and guidelines of 10 federal agencies shows how different agencies define no-action for continuing actions. Review of six recent NEPA documents on continuing actions reveals how their definitions of the no-action alternative promote or impede informed decision-making. This paper argues that for environmental analyses of continuing actions, both continue-the-activity-without-modification (continue) and discontinue-the-ongoing-activity (discontinue) versions of the no-action alternative should be analyzed. In addition, the article shows that there is a significant potential for distortion of the impact assessment results if historical information is used as a substitute for analysis of the no-action alternative.
Attributing costs to the environmental impacts associated with industrial activities can greatly assist in protecting human health and the natural environment as monetary values are capable of directly influencing technological and policy decisions without changing the rules of the market. This paper attempts to estimate the external cost attributable to the atmospheric pollution from ‘medium and high environmental burden’ industrial activities located in the greater Athens area and the benefits from Best Available Techniques (BAT) introduction. To this end a number of typical installations were defined to be used in conjunction with the Impact Pathway Approach developed in the context of the ExternE project to model all industrial sectors/sub-sectors located in the area of interest. Total environmental externalities due to air pollutants emitted by these industrial activities were found to reach 211 M€ per year, associated mainly with human mortality and morbidity due to PM10 emissions, as well as with climate change impacts due to CO2 emissions for which non-metallic minerals and oil processing industries are the main sources. The results obtained can be used as the basis for an integrated evaluation of potential BAT, taking into account not only private costs and benefits but also the environmental externalities, thus leading to policy decisions that maximize social welfare in each industrial sector/sub-sector.
Over the last 10 years, strategic environmental assessment (SEA) has become an important policy instrument for national governments, particularly in Europe. Many of the countries that have experimented with SEA at the national level have begun to extend its use to bilateral development cooperation. Despite these innovations, SEA has yet to gain a serious foothold in the work of multi-lateral development banks (MDBs), although significant advances have been made by the World Bank. In a number of ways, the activities of MDBs are ideally suited to SEA. Unlike most national governments where responsibility for policies, plans, and programs (PPPs) is divided among departments and jurisdictions, MDBs tend to have more control over the different levels of the PPP hierarchy. This means that one of the core focuses of SEA, the notion of “tiering,” is perhaps more readily achieved in MDBs than elsewhere. As a consequence, there are genuine efficiency gains to be had, along with potential improvements in environmental outcomes in recipient countries. This paper presents an outline of a generic, comprehensive SEA system that could be applied to the lending and granting activities of MDBs. The main focus of the paper is the design of a linkage between SEA and the programming cycle of MDBs, where decisions are made about investments in recipient countries.
Nine non-local databases were evaluated with respect to their suitability for the environmental assessment of industrial activities in Latin America. Three assessment methods were considered, namely Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and air emission inventories. The analysis focused on data availability in the databases and the applicability of their international data to Latin American industry. The study showed that the European EMEP/EEA Guidebook and the U.S. EPA AP-42 database are the most suitable ones for air emission inventories, whereas the LCI database Ecoinvent is the most suitable one for LCA and EIA. Due to the data coverage in the databases, air emission inventories are easier to develop than LCA or EIA, which require more comprehensive information. One strategy to overcome the limitations of non-local databases for Latin American industry is the combination of validated data from international databases with newly developed local datasets.