REGIONAL TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP (RTWG) ON ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA)

 

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Background: Regional Cooperation and EIA

The emerging ASEAN Economic Community is building a single regional market and competitive production base, promoting equitable economic development, and further integrating its ten member states into the global economy. ASEAN aims to simplify and harmonize trade and customs processes to facilitate trade and investment across the region’s borders. Investments in regional infrastructure projects such as hydropower dams, transportation corridors, extractive industries, and economic zones are increasing. But without effective Social and Environmental Safeguards, these investments are likely to contribute to accelerated deterioration of the region’s environment, loss of livelihoods, and other unintended consequences

Environmental Impact Assessment is a widely-applied tool used to address social and environmental impacts of development projects. While it is implemented in all lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam – a number of weaknesses impede its effectiveness, particularly in relation to meaningful public participation. These gaps may result in poor projects with adverse impacts, project delays, and conflicts with communities, all leading to costs and risks for investors and governments. They also risk undermining the region’s long-term sustainability. A wave of EIA reforms is underway across the region and a trend of common interest among governments, civil society, and business. Improving EIA policy and practice can help address the increasingly regional dimensions of large-scale investments, mitigate their social and environmental impacts, and reduce risk and uncertainty to investors.

 

                      Group photo of the RTWG on EIA members at the 3rd meeting of the group in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Photo: AECEN

 

Response of the Regional Technical Working Group on EIA

The RTWG on EIA provides a model platform for regional collaboration to strengthen the policy and practice of EIA and to enhance cooperation for inclusive and sustainable development of the region. Comprised of a diverse group of 25 non-government/civil society and government representatives (i.e. from government EIA departments and economic/planning ministries) from across the five lower Mekong countries, the RTWG has the following objectives:

  • Develop Regional Guidelines for effective Public Participation in EIA;
  • Promote information sharing on best practices in EIA; and
  • Promote the mainstreaming of the Regional Guidelines and best practices of Public Participation in EIA processes in the Mekong countries and ASEAN.

 

Progress

The first edition of the Guidelines on Public Participation in EIA in the Mekong Region is now available for investors, governments and communities, as of April 2017.

After six national public consultations on the guidelines, numerous local consultations and an online feedback platform, over 2000 comments were compiled and synthesized by the RTWG Secretariat and considered by the RTWG on EIA members. The public consultation process included several steps:

  • A draft of the Regional Guidelines for Public Participation in EIA was completed and translated into Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese.
  • It was open for public comment online.
  • Public consultations were conducted in October 2016 to introduce the draft guidelines and solicit inputs and feedback from interested stakeholders including private sector companies, NGOs, government agencies, academic institutes, and development partners. Several community consultations were also held at local levels. National consultation events included:

October 5            Hanoi, Viet Nam

October 7            Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

October 12          Vientiane, Lao PDR

October 14          Yangon, Myanmar

October 19          Bangkok, Thailand

October 28          Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

The RTWG on EIA is supported by The Mekong Partnership for the Environment, led by Pact and funded by USAID, supports responsible development by facilitating networking and dialogue among government, business and civil society.

The Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) is a network of environmental agencies from across Asia who exchange best practices to promote improved environmental compliance.

 

For inquiries please contact:

Mekong Partnership for the Environment

Pact Thailand

+66 2 254 7066-8

www.pactworld.org/mpe

infompe@pactworld.org

 

Click here for more information on Mekong Partnership for the Environment

 

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