Environmental Impact Assessment is the process of identifying, evaluating, and mitigating the environmental and social effects of development projects. Through this process, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and its borrowing countries can ensure that environmental considerations are addressed and incorporated into decision-making processes and can anticipate, avoid, minimize or offset adverse effects. Licensing agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean are under increasing demand to comprehensively and efficiently review these assessments in an increasingly complex environmental and social context.
To this end, we at the Environmental Safeguards Unit of the IDB are working to ensure that negative impacts on the environment and communities are identified and well managed. We recently launched a virtual course on reviewing Environmental Impact Assessments, which offers tools and strategies to evaluate EIAs in accordance with international good practices and IDB policies. An important aspect of this course is that it offers an interchange of experiences between professionals who face similar issues throughout the region.
Above: Introductory video to the PREIA course (in Spanish)
The first two editions of this virtual course included participation from forty-eight officials responsible for environmental licensing and enforcement of high-risk projects in eleven member countries. Participants were given tools to carry out comprehensive reviews of EIAs, taking into consideration international good practices. The course teaches participants how to compare each EIA element against applicable standards and the communication of results to different audiences.
Participants left this course able to recognize the stages of the EIA process, understand the role of the reviewer and effectively participate in the stages of the EIA review and decision-making process. Feedback from the course has been very positive. Users are happy they have a tool that helps them better interpret the EIA of their projects and identify what gaps need to be filled before approval. They also appreciate the opportunity to exchange experiences with counterparts in other countries and understand environmental and social issues from different perspectives.
In addition, the IDB has developed a second course on good practices for the effective incorporation of biodiversity into the process of environmental and social assessment. The course is based on case studies from Latin Am000erica and on guidelines by the Multilateral Financing Institutions Biodiversity Working Group and the Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative:
- Good Practices for the Collection of Biodiversity Baseline Data;
- Good Practices for Biodiversity Inclusive Impact Assessment and Management Planning.
A pilot of this course was launched in early 2017, followed by a reviewed second edition in early May.
Moving forward, both these courses will be translated into English to support clients in English-speaking countries and offered throughout the year in consecutive editions.
Read this story and other examples of our sustainability efforts in the IDB’s 2016 Sustainability Report.
The IDB is working with national governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to continue its efforts to strengthen and use country systems for environmental and social management. The objective of these activities is to strengthen governance at national and subnational levels related to environmental and social safeguards for specific countries, sectors and operations. These activities seek to enhance environmental and social outcomes of countries’ development projects, regardless of the funding source.