Expertise, independence and transparency

The NCEA’s work is founded on three principles: expertise, independence and transparency. It is the combination of these three that allows the NCEA to provide unbiased support and advice.

The NCEA supports environment and sectoral ministries, environmental assessment professionals and non-governmental organisations, to improve their environmental and social assessment practice. The NCEA advises on the quality of the process and content of these assessments, both at project level (environmental and social impact assessment or ESIA) and strategic level (strategic environmental assessment or SEA).

When the NCEA reviews the quality of a process or report, the following is assessed:

  • Quality of information: is it sufficient as a basis for sound decision making?
  • Relevance of the ESIA/SEA: does its focus and timing optimise its influence on decision making?
  • Transparency of the process: is it clear who will be taking decisions and when?
  • Participation of stakeholders: are stakeholders and the general public consulted in a timely and effective manner?

Please note that the NCEA does not write ESIA and SEA reports, nor does it advise on the approval of a project or a plan.


What we do:

  • Give independent advice on the scope of ESIA/SEA early in the decision-making process;
  • Conduct independent quality review of the ESIA/SEA process and content later in the decision-making process;
  • Coach ESIA/SEA processes;
  • Screen legal ESIA requirements for subsidised Dutch investments in developing countries;
  • Give advice and develop capacity to strengthen national ESIA/SEA systems, including institutions, processes and legislation;
  • Provide an on-line knowledge centre on ESIA/SEA legislation, practice and guidance.

For whom and what are the costs? 

This support is in most cases requested by environmental and sectoral ministries. However, it can also be requested by donor agencies and development banks such as the World Bank and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. 

In countries eligible for Dutch development cooperation our ESIA/SEA assistance is free of charge for:

  • competent authorities, if independent advice is required;
  • government agencies, NGOs and academia requiring capacity development.

In all other cases, support can be given on a non-profit basis.


The NCEA can call upon a pool of international experts with collective expertise in all environmental and social related fields such as ecology, hydrology, geology, air, soil and water pollution, environmental law, gender, social impacts and the technical and physical planning aspects of the activities for which an environmental assessment is required. In short, the NCEA is able to mobilise any expertise required for advice on EA reports and capacity development.