NAIROBI, 12 January 1995 -- Twenty international experts on environmental impact assessment EIA will be meeting from 16 to 18 January here at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP to review the first drafts of two manuals on EIA training resources and best practices.
Organized by UNEP's Environment and Economics Unit, the three-day working group meeting will provide comments and recommendations for the further refinement of both drafts. The two manuals will later be reviewed at the June 1995 meeting, in Durban, South Africa, of the International Association for Impact Assessment IAIA . This meeting is also co-sponsored by UNEP.
At a series of international meetings and workshops held throughout 1994, some under UNEP auspices, EIA capacity building, particularly for developing countries and those with economies in transition, was identified as a priority area upon which the international community needed to focus. To assist in this process, UNEP has agreed to facilitate the preparation of a standard set of basic training elements that could be adapted to meet the specific needs of any country or group of countries. The first draft of the training resource manual, which is now ready for review, has been prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency of Australia.
As a complement, UNEP has also commissioned the preparation of a "best practices" manual to meet the broadly accepted need for country-specific EIA guidelines. The document reviews common underlying principles in EIA and discusses emerging issues in the field. It is hoped that, once the manual is finalized, it will provide a basis for countries to prepare their own guidelines appropriate to that country's specific needs, available resources and cultural and economic conditions. Both manuals will provide a useful reference guide for practitioners in the public and private sectors in developing guidelines to suit the distinctive needs of their individual countries and contribute towards enhancing their capacity to use EIA as a practical tool for sound environmental management and sustainable development.
Within UNEP, environmentally sound and sustainable development has always been an important element of its programmes. Focus has been on clarifying the linkage between environment and development and the role economics played in this linkage, particularly through the use of such tools as environmental impact assessment, natural resource accounting and economic instruments. More recently, attention has been devoted to the impact of international economic relations on the environment, with particular emphasis on trade.
The UN Conference on Environment and Development UNCED in 1992 identified as one of the priorities for UNEP the further development and promotion of EIA, including activities carried out under the auspices of UN specialized agencies.
This was followed, in 1993, by the endorsement of UNEP's Action Programme on Environment and Economics by the 17th session of UNEP's Governing Council. It also called for the "widest possible use of EIA procedures by Governments and, where appropriate, international organizations as an essential element in development planning and for assessing the effects of potentially harmful activities on the environment".
The Action Programme covers five substantive areas: environment and natural resource accounting; valuation of environmental goods and services; economic policy instruments; environmental impact assessment; and trade and the environment. Over the past year, workshops and meetings have been held on various components of the Action Programme.
* * * For more information, please contact:
Mr. Hussein Abaza, Chief,
UNEP Environment and Economics Unit
Tel: 254-2 623372; Fax: 254-2 624268
UNEP Environment and Economics Unit
Tel: 254-2 623742; Fax: 254-2 624268
UNEP News Release 1995/2