The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice
(a) Endorses the draft guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment legislation and/or processes and in strategic environmental assessment on the basis of the draft contained in the annex to the present recommendation and identify ways and means for their further development or adjustment;
(b) Urges Parties, other Governments and organizations to apply the guidelines as appropriate in the context of their implementation of paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Convention and share their experience, inter alia, through the clearing-house mechanism and national reporting;
(c) Considers requesting the Executive Secretary to prepare for consideration by The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties, a programme of work in collaboration with the International Association for Impact Assessment and other relevant organizations including regional /international initiatives such as the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, the European Union directives on habitats, birds, environmental impact assessment, and the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and in doing so, take into account capacity building and experiences gained in the context of thematic programmes of work and cross-cutting issues under the Convention on Biological Diversity;
(d) Notes that emphasis should be given in the work programme to, inter alia, the development of targets, criteria and indicators needed to screen projects, plans, programmes or policies, and ways and means, including public participation;
(e) Requests the Executive Secretary to compile and disseminate, through the clearing-house mechanism and other means of communication, current experiences in environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment procedures that incorporate biodiversity-related issues, as well as experiences of Parties in applying the guidelines; in light of this information, to prepare proposals for further development and refinement of the guidelines, particularly to incorporate all stages of the environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment processes taking into account the ecosystem approach (particularly principles 4, 7 and 8) and to provide a report of this work to the Subsidiary Body prior to the eight meeting of the Conference of the Parties;
DRAFT GUIDELINES FOR INCORPORATING BIODIVERSITY-RELATED ISSUES INTO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT LEGISLATION AND/OR PROCESS AND IN STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
(a) Environmental impact assessment is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse. Although legislation and practice vary around the world, the fundamental components of an environmental impact assessment would necessarily involve the following stages
(i) Screening to determine which projects or developments require a full or partial impact assessment study;
(ii) Scoping to identify which potential impacts are relevant to assess, and to derive terms of reference for the impact assessment;
(iii) Impact assessment to predict and identify the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development taking into account inter-related consequences of the project proposal, and the socio-economic impacts;
(iv) Identifying mitigation measures (including not proceeding with the development, finding alternative designs or sites which avoid the impacts, incorporating safeguards in the design of the project, or providing compensation for adverse impacts);
(v) Deciding whether to approve the project or not; and
(vi) Monitoring and evaluating the development activities, predicted impacts and proposed mitigation measures to ensure that unpredicted impacts or failed mitigation measures are identified and addressed in a timely fashion;
(b) Strategic environmental assessment is the formalized, systematic and comprehensive process of identifying and evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed policies, plans or programmes to ensure that they are fully included and appropriately addressed at the earliest possible stage of decision-making on a par with economic and social considerations. Strategic environmental assessment, by its nature, covers a wider range of activities or a wider area and often over a longer time span than the environmental impact assessment of projects. Strategic environmental assessment might be applied to an entire sector (such as a national policy on energy for example) or to a geographical area, (for example, in the context of a regional development scheme). The basic steps of strategic environmental assessment are similar to the steps in environmental impact assessment procedures, but the scope differs. Strategic environmental assessment does not replace or reduce the need for project-level environmental impact assessment, but it can help to streamline the incorporation of environmental concerns (including biodiversity) into the decision-making process, often making project-level environmental impact assessment a more effective process.
1. Purpose and approach
2. Biodiversity issues at different stages of environmental impact assessment
(a) Positive lists identifying projects requiring environmental impact assessment. A few countries use (or have used) negative lists, identifying those projects not subject to environmental impact assessment. These lists should be reassessed to evaluate their inclusion of biodiversity aspects;
(b) Expert judgement (with or without a limited study, sometimes referred to as "initial environmental examination" or "preliminary environmental assessment"); and
(c) A combination of a positive list and expert judgement; for a number of activities an environmental impact assessment is more appropriate, for others an expert judgement may be desirable to determine the need for an environmental impact assessment.
(a) An environmental impact assessment is required,
(c) The project does not require an environmental impact assessment.
(a) Countries with a positive list identifying projects requiring environmental impact assessment should use, as appropriate, appendices I and II below for guidance on reconsidering their existing positive list with respect to biological diversity considerations. By assessing the possible impacts of categories of activities on biological diversity the existing list can be adjusted, if required;
(b) In countries where screening is based on expert judgement, experience has shown that professionals make screening decisions, often using "mini environmental impact assessment" to come to this decision. These guidelines, its appendices and other guidelines such as the information document submitted by the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) help provide these professionals with the means to come to a motivated, transparent and consistent screening decision. Furthermore, the expert teams should include professionals with biodiversity expertise;
(c) In countries where screening is based on a combination of a positive list and expert judgement, country-specific thematic or sector guidelines, often including quantitative norms or thresholds, facilitate the responsible people to make a well-founded and defendable decision. For biodiversity, thematic guidelines could be developed, sector guidelines need to be reviewed on biodiversity considerations.
The screening criteria
(a) Categories of activities that may affect biological diversity and the direct and indirect biophysical changes likely to result from these activities, taking into account characteristics like: type or nature of activity, magnitude, extent/location, timing, duration, reversibility/irreversibility, likelihood, and significance; possibility of interaction with other activities or impacts;
(b) Area of influence. Knowing the biophysical changes that result from an activity, the expected area of influence of these changes can be modelled or predicted, including the probability of off-site effects;
(c) Biodiversity maps indicating ecosystems and/or land-use types and their use and non-use values (showing the use and non-use values of biodiversity).
Pertinent questions for screening
(a) Does the intended activity affect the physical environment in such a manner or cause such biological losses that it influences the chance of extinction of cultivars, varieties, populations of species, or the chance of loss of habitats or ecosystems?
(b) Does the intended activity surpass the maximal sustainable yield, the carrying capacity of a habitat/ecosystem or the maximum and minimum allowable disturbance level of a resource, population, or ecosystem?
(c) Does the intended activity result in changes to the access to and rights over biological resources?
(a) To guide study teams on significant issues and alternatives to be assessed, clarify how they should be examined (methods of prediction and analysis, depth of analysis), and according to which guidelines and criteria;
(b) To provide an opportunity for stakeholders to have their interests taken into account in the environmental impact assessment;
(c) To ensure that the resulting environmental impact statement is useful to the decision maker and is understandable to the public.
(a) Describe the type of project, its nature, magnitude, location, timing, duration and frequency;
(b) Describe the expected biophysical changes in soil, water, air, flora and fauna;
(c) Describe biophysical changes that result from social change processes as a result of the proposed project;
(d) Determine the spatial and temporal scale of influence of each biophysical change;
(e) Describe ecosystems and land-use types potentially influenced by the biophysical changes identified;
(f) Determine for each ecosystem or land-use type if the biophysical changes affect one of the following components of biological diversity: the composition (what is there), the temporal/spatial structure (how are biodiversity components organised in time and space), or key processes (how is biodiversity created and/or maintained);
(g) Identify in consultation with stakeholders the current and potential use-functions, non-use functions and other longer-term less tangible benefits of biological diversity provided by the ecosystems or land-use types and determine the values these functions represent for society (see appendix 3 for an indicative list of functions);
(h) Determine which of these functions will be significantly affected by the proposed project, taking into account mitigation measures;
(i) For each alternative, define mitigation and/or compensation measures to avoid, minimize or compensate the expected impacts;
(j) With the help of the biodiversity checklist on scoping (see appendix 4 below), determine which issues will provide information relevant to decision making and can realistically be studied;
(k) Provide information on the severity of impacts, i.e. apply weights to the expected impacts for the alternatives considered. Weigh expected impacts to a reference situation (baseline), which may be the existing situation, a historical situation, or an external reference situation.
(l) Identify necessary surveys to gather comprehensive information about the biological diversity in the affected area where appropriate.
(c) Impact analysis and assessment
(a) Refinement of the understanding of the nature of the potential impacts identified during screening and scoping and described in the terms of reference. This includes the identification of indirect and cumulative impacts, and of the likely causes of the impacts (impact analysis and assessment). Identification and description of relevant criteria for decision-making can be an essential element of this period;
(b) Review and redesign of alternatives; consideration of mitigation measures; planning of impact management; evaluation of impacts; and comparison of the alternatives; and
(c) Reporting of study results in a environmental impact statement.
(d) Consideration of mitigation measures
(e) Reporting: the environmental impact statement (EIS)
(h) Monitoring and environmental auditing
3. Incorporation of biodiversity considerations in strategic environmental assessments
4. Ways and means
(b) Legislative authority
QUESTIONS PERTINENT TO SCREENING ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY IMPACTS
THE SCREENING CRITERIA
This is a suggested outline of a set of screening criteria, to be elaborated on country level. It only deals with biodiversity criteria and thus is an add-on to already existing screening criteria.
Category A: Environmental impact assessment mandatory: Only in the case criteria can be based on formal legal backing, such as:
Indicative list of activities for which an environmental impact assessment could be mandatory:
(a) At the genetic level (relates to screening question I in appendix 1 above):
(b) At species level (relates to screening question II and III in appendix 1 above):
(c) At ecosystem level (screening questions IV and V in appendix 1 above):
Category B: The need for, or the level of environmental impact assessment, is to be determined
In cases where there is no legal basis to require an environmental impact assessment, but one can suspect that the proposed activity may have a significant impact on biological diversity, or that a limited study is needed to solve uncertainties or design limited mitigation measures. This category covers the frequently referred to but difficult to use concept of "sensitive areas". As long as so-called sensitive areas do not have any legal protected status it is difficult to use the concept in practice, so a more practical alternative is provided.
The following categories of criteria point towards possible impacts on biological diversity, and further attention is thus required:
(a) Activities in, or in the vicinity of, or with influence on areas with legal status having a probable link to biological diversity but not legally protecting biological diversity (relates to all five screening questions in appendix 1 above). For example: a Ramsar site has the official recognition of having internationally important wetland values, but this recognition does not automatically imply legal protection of biological diversity in these wetlands).
Other examples include areas allocated to local and indigenous communities, extractive reserves, landscape preservation areas, sites covered by international treaties or conventions for preservation of natural and/or cultural heritage such as the UNESCO biosphere reserves and World Heritage Sites;
(b) Impacts on biological diversity possible or likely, but the environmental impact assessment is not necessarily triggered by law:
(i) At the genetic level:
(ii) At the species level:
(iii) At the ecosystem level:
Category C: no environmental impact assessment required
Activities which are not covered by one of the categories A or B, or are designated as category C after initial environmental examination.
The generic nature of these guidelines does not allow for the positive identification of types of activities or areas where environmental impact assessment from a biodiversity perspective is not needed. At country level, however, it will be possible to indicate geographical areas where biological diversity considerations do not play a role of importance and, conversely, areas where they do play an important role (biodiversity-sensitive areas).
INDICATIVE LIST (NON-EXHAUSTIVE) OF EXAMPLES OF FUNCTIONS OF THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT THAT ARE DIRECTLY (FLORA AND FAUNA) OR INDIRECTLY (SERVICES PROVIDED BY ECOSYSTEMS SUCH AS WATER SUPPLY) DERIVED FROM BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY.
Nature-based human production
Processing and regulation functions
Land-based processing and regulation functions
Water related processing and regulation functions
Air-related processing and regulation functions
Biodiversity-related regulation functions