In a nutshell
In just about every country in the world, it is legally required to conduct an environmental assessment before major commitments are made.
Environmental assessment can be conducted at two levels:
- For decision making on projects, such as a dam, motorway, airport or windpark. This is Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).
- For plans, programmes or policies, for instance: a land use plan or an energy plan. This is Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
The main objectives and key stages of ESIA and SEA are fairly similar. However, the actual scope and stakeholders involved can be quite different.
What the NCEA looks for in an environmental assessment process:
- Information: Does the process deliver the information needed for decision making? Information on the impacts of the proposed action, but also on alternative decision options, mitigitation measures, and how to manage impacts after decision making.
- Dialogue: Does the process engage affected stakeholders in a timely, transparent and inclusive way?
- Influence: Does the process influence decision making by addressing relevant issues, providing usable inputs for decision makers at the right time and ensuring that decision makers are accountable for the assessment outcomes?