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This article highlights different major types of environmental impact assessment which are part of the environment management impact assessment process. These types of environmental impact assessments help with impact assessment and reporting (IEA). Environmental assessment became an important science in the 1970s. EIA has become an important tool of key importance to the management of the environment.
Stockholm, a contributor to the environment stated in the year 1972, that environmental assessment became part of the common lexicon among environmental stakeholders as well as the public and private sectors. The assessment had been practiced in different forms and transitioned before the 1970s, after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
Types of EIA environmental impact assessment
These major types of environmental impact assessments you will learn about will be explained in detail. The different types of environmental assessment today include The 5 major types of environmental assessment.
- State of the environment (SOE)
- Integrated Environmental Assessment and reporting (IEA)
- Environmental impact assessment (EIA)
- Corporate environmental assessment and reporting
- Strategic environmental assessment (SEA)
1. State of the environment
Firstly, state of the environment (SOE) reporting comes largely under the purview of government, through a department or ministry mandated to undertake such an assessment and to report to parliament or government or for public information. Traditional SOE reporting has the objective of providing information on the environment and the trends in its key variables.
It is mainly concerned about the biophysical environment and less about the human dimension except in the context of the pressures humanity exerts on the environment. It also gives information on what is happening to the environment. As a result, this information is very useful and may be used to analyze trends in key variables of the environment.
2. Integrated environmental assessment and reporting
State of the environment (SOE) reporting has evolved over the past three decades into Integrated Environmental Assessment and reporting (IEA). With the emergence of the concept of sustainable development whose main pillars are social, economic, and environmental practitioners responded with the introduction of IEA, which integrates social, economic, and environmental issues in the analyses.
Integrated environmental assessment and reporting try to show the cause-effect linkages of human and natural action on the environment, and in turn, the resultant environmental change in the state of the environment and human development. The end result of environmental assessment should be more than just knowing the state of the environment. It should further give policymakers and other stakeholders some guidance on how to better manage the environment.
3. Environmental impact assessment
This is one of the major and mostly used in the various environmental assessment processes, EIA is arguably one of the most famous, depending on the protagonists. Often in the past, investors/developers have viewed EIA with suspicion as a tool used by environmentalists to undermine development.
However, EIA is a tool used to determine the social, economic, and environmental impacts of major developments in order to determine the necessary migratory measures. EIA is considered a policy response, along with other policies such as natural resource management laws and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).
The Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment (SAIEA) describes environmental assessment as a process to identify, evaluate and assess the potential effects on the environment of a proposed development before a major decision or commitment is made (SAIEA 2005).
4. Corporate environmental assessment and reporting
The private sector has become a major player in producing annual environmental reports, which assess their environmental performance in production. About 25 percent of all Global Fortune 500 companies now produce some type of report that charts their environmental, social, or sustainability efforts (Oracle 2005).
The increased presence of corporate responsibility in daily business operations is driven by factors such as the erosion of trust in large corporations, the globalization of business, the corporate governance movement, the rise in importance of socially-responsible funds, and sheer competitive pressures.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has developed globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines to facilitate the private sector’s public account of its economic, environmental, and social performance in relation to its operations, products, and services.
The GRI, which is a UNEP collaborating center (CC), “seeks to elevate sustainability reporting to the same level of rigor, comparability, credibility, and verifiability expected of financial reporting, while serving the information needs of a
broad array of stakeholders from civil society, government, labor, and the private business community itself”. According to GRI, organizations worldwide had produced about 3,000 sustainability, environmental, social, and citizenship reports (GRI 2002). The GRI guidelines also include economic, environmental, and social indicators.
5. Strategic environmental assessment
According to Woods worth (2006), SEA contributes to decisions related to both environmental protection and sustainable development by providing a broader environmental vision. Considering the effects of the proposed strategic actions policy program and plan. Strategic environmental assessment also helps with identifying the best practicable environmental option.
Providing early warning of cumulative effects and large-scale changes has been attributed been another factor in contributing to integrated policy-making and planning.
Strategic Environmental Assessment features include:
- Helps to incorporate sustainability principles in the policy-making process.
- Helping to improve decision-making in ways that also ensure integration and sustainability of the environment.
- Enabling the tearing of environmental sustainability and ensuring an integrated approach to policy, planning, and programming.
- Providing better context for assessment of cumulative effects.
- Providing the context for screening for lower-level environmental assessment through the EIA. Enabling the anticipation of impacts that can also occur at the project level, helps to strengthen the attendant EIA.
These key types of environmental impact assessment are very important and the other environmental assessment process is the need for policy responses for effective environmental management. During environmental impact assessment, these factors introduced a process for sustainable utilization of resources and the environment to prevent damage.
- Eskom (2000). Environmental Report 2000: Towards Sustainability. Eskom, Johannesburg.
- GRI (2002). Sustainability Reporting Guidelines 2002. Global Reporting Initiative,
- Metropolitan Durban (1999). Durban South Basin Strategic Environmental Assessment.
- Guidelines on Policy Analysis for Integrated Environmental Assessment and Reporting. United Nations Development
- Program / United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi. Oracle (2005).
- Oracle and Economist Intelligence Unit announce results from corporate responsibility survey: 85 percent of executives and investors surveyed rank corporate responsibility as a central consideration in investment decisions. Press Release, February 10, 2005.