Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) can broadly be defined as a study of the effects of a proposed project, plan or program on the environment. The legal, methodological and procedural foundations of EIA were established in 1970 by the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in the USA. At the international level, lending banks and bilateral aid agencies have EIA procedures that apply to borrowing and recipient countries. Most developing counties have also embraced and are in the process of formalizing EIA through legislation. The paper highlights the evolution to current status, the legal framework, concepts, processes and principles of EIA and associated studies.
1.1 Origin of EIA
Before the First World War, rapid industrialization and urbanization in western countries was causing rapid loss of natural resources. This continued to the period after the Second World War giving rise to concerns for pollution, quality of life and environmental stress. In early 60s, investors and people realized that the projects they were under taking were affecting the environment, resources, raw materials and people. As a result of this, pressure groups formed with the aim of getting a tool that can be used to safeguard the environment in any development. The USA decided to respond to these issues and established a National Environmental Policy Act in 1970 to consider its goal in terms of environmental protection. The USA became the first country to enact legislation on EIA. This was the first time that EIA became the official tool to be used to protect the environment. The United Nations Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972 and subsequent conventions formalized EIA. At present, all developed countries have environmental laws whereas most of the developing countries are still adopting it (Lee, 1995). Multilateral and bilateral lenders included EIA requirements in their project eligibility criteria (OECD, 1996).

1.2 EIA in developing countries
Until recently, EIA as a new concept was not readily understood and accepted as a tool in developing countries. Developers resisted and argued that it was anti development because laws and policies supporting it dictated that lands developments causing negative impacts should be discontinued. In a nutshell, EIA was considered just another bureaucratic stumbling block in the path of development. Secondly, it was conceived as a sinister means by which industrialized nations intend to keep
developing countries from breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. Thirdly, the experts in the developing countries were foreigners who were viewed as agents of colonization. The need for EIAs has become increasingly important and is now a statutory requirement in many developing countries.

Historically, the choice of new projects was primarily based on one criterion: economic viability. Today, a second and a third choice criteria, environmental and social impact, have become a strong yardstick, hence the triple bottom-line approach (economic, environmental and social) to project viability (Modak & Biswas, 1999).

EIA takes place within the legal and/or policy and institutional frameworks established by individual countries and international agencies. EIA provision and procedure can contribute to successful implementation of project if these frameworks are adhered to.

2.1 EIA in international environmental law context
Key Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) have seen review and improvements in EIA legal, policy and institutional arrangements. The key agreements are discussed below.

a)Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Trans-boundary Context (Espoo, 1991). 
This is the first multi-lateral EIA treaty. It looks at EIA in a trans-boundary context and entered into force in 1997. The Espoo Convention sets out the obligations of Parties to assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down the general obligation of states to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across borders.

Apart from stipulating responsibility of signatory countries with regards to proposals that have trans-boundary impacts, it describes the principles, provisions, procedures to be followed and list of activities, contents of documentation and criteria of significance that apply.

b)  Rio Declaration (1992).
Principle 17 of Rio Declaration on Environment and Development calls for use of EIA as a national decision making instrument to be used in assessing whether proposed activities are likely to have significant adverse impact on the environment. It also emphasized the role of competent national authority in the decision making process. The other principle (15) of this declaration that is relevant to EIA practice is the application of the precautionary principle.

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Kunle, N. (2018). ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT GENERAL PROCEDURES. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/environmental-impact-assessment-6881

MLA 8th

Kunle, Nicholas "ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT GENERAL PROCEDURES" Afribary. Afribary, 29 Jan. 2018, https://afribary.com/works/environmental-impact-assessment-6881. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.


Kunle, Nicholas . "ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT GENERAL PROCEDURES". Afribary, Afribary, 29 Jan. 2018. Web. 20 Jul. 2024. < https://afribary.com/works/environmental-impact-assessment-6881 >.


Kunle, Nicholas . "ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT GENERAL PROCEDURES" Afribary (2018). Accessed July 20, 2024. https://afribary.com/works/environmental-impact-assessment-6881