Impact Assessment


Impact assessment is a comprehensive process and assessment tool, is used to ensure that projects, programmes and policies are economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable. Impact assessment is a generic term that includes environmental impact assessment (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA).

Biodiversity considerations in impact assessment

Impact assessment processes are in place and applied in many countries, however biodiversity considerations are often inadequately addressed. There is a growing recognition of the need to better reflect biodiversity considerations in environmental impact assessments and in strategic environmental assessment. Important barriers to the incorporation of biodiversity in impact assessment include low priority for biodiversity and limitations in one or more of the following areas: capacity to carry out the assessments; awareness of biodiversity values; adequate data; and post-project monitoring. Strategic environmental assessments have high potential for addressing biodiversity in planning and decision-making, but there are challenges to their application.

How the issue is being addressed under the CBD

To overcome some of these challenges and limitations, voluntary guidelines have been developed to assist Parties in incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment (Annex to decision VII/28) and strategic environmental assessment legislation and procedures (Annex II of document UNEP/CBD/COP/8/27/Add.2 ). A brochure with the two sets of guidelines and additional background information is available here. They were prepared in collaboration with the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) and other relevant organizations.
To ensure that projects and programmes with a potential impact on indigenous and local communities undergo an appropriate impact assessment process, the Akwé: Kon voluntary guidelines for the conduct of cultural, environmental and social impact assessments regarding developments proposed to take place on, or which are likely to impact on, sacred sites and on lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous and local communities (decision VII/16 Part F) have been prepared by the Open-ended working group on Article 8 (j). This should be seen as complementary to the voluntary guidelines on biodiversity-inclusive impact assessment.