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What is the environmental impact assessment?

What is the environmental impact assessment?

By Cristian Frers

At present, one of the most important challenges facing municipal governments is the design and implementation of policies that make the economic and social development of the municipality compatible with the guiding principles of protection and preservation of the environment that modern society requires.

What is the Environmental Impact Assessment?

At present, one of the most important challenges facing municipal governments is the design and implementation of policies that make the economic and social development of the municipality compatible with the guiding principles of protection and preservation of the environment that modern society requires.

To adequately resolve this issue, it is necessary to have a global vision of the environmental problems of the municipality and its future perspectives, which allows establishing an adequate environmental management policy, aimed at achieving the final objective, which is the sustained and sustainable development of area.


Environmental impact management aims to minimize our interference, maximize the chances of survival of all forms of life, however small and insignificant they may be from our point of view, and not because of a kind of magnanimity for the most creatures. weak, but out of true intellectual humility, recognizing that we do not really know what the loss of any living species can mean for the biological balance.

The Environmental Impact Assessment is one of the preventive management instruments that allows environmental policies to be applied and even more so, it ensures that they are included early in the development and decision-making process. Therefore, it evaluates and corrects human actions and avoids, mitigates or compensates their eventual negative environmental impacts.

This study allows documenting the entire analysis of the environmental impacts of a given action as well as the different alternatives for its implementation, the mitigation and / or compensation measures, and the follow-up, monitoring and control plans. In addition, they constitute the primary source of information for those institutions that must pronounce on a proposed action. On the other hand, an environmental impact study is a set of interrelated, systematic, technical-scientific studies, whose objective is the identification, prediction and evaluation of the positive or negative effects that one or a set of actions of human origin can produce on the physical, biological or human environment. The information provided by the study should make it possible to reach conclusions about the effects that the installation and development of an action or project may produce on its environment, establish the measures to be implemented to mitigate and monitor the impacts, and propose the necessary contingency plans.

An environmental impact assessment process presents a set of advantages that must be respected and included, and that makes it an appropriate instrument to achieve adequate environmental protection. By being included in decision-making about a given action, variables are incorporated that are not otherwise considered. Traditionally, decisions have been made based on immediate economic costs, profitability, and short-term needs, among others. However, it is recognized that these must consider the relationships of man-nature interdependence, the rational use of resources and, ultimately, the sustainability of human actions.

In this sense, incorporating an environmental impact assessment process into the management of a proposed action complements the decisions, allowing them to be transparent, informed and consensual, which must follow the following requirements:

1) Corresponding to the government's own tasks and not taking space away from the community or the private sector.
2) Be integrated with other policies in a consistent, hierarchical and bankable program.
3) Clarify the responsibilities of the public sector, but also open the participation of the community and the private sector on a very vast number of issues.
4) Have the most appropriate management for its purpose, establishing greater responsibilities in the executors, adding to greater transparency and responsibility.
5) Be subject to internal and external controls clearly and quickly.
6) Be evaluated in all cases.
7) Allow a fluid communication of the public sector with the community, in each of the stages.


The term environmental impact assessment is currently reserved for those studies referring to certain stages of the life of the company or undertaking, such as its location or installation, as it is usually necessary to obtain operating authorizations, and therefore , prior to the operation of the company.

These studies are currently requested to carry out the administrative procedure for Environmental Impact Assessment. In turn, conducting these studies has become a frequently adopted modality, as part of the administrative procedure for decision-making, in relation to productive activities in operation or for the approval of projects or investment plans for the installation. and operation of production and / or service activities, as well as for the construction of buildings and authorizations for various commercial and industrial activities, among other activities.

Before starting certain public works or projects or activities that can produce significant impacts on the environment, the legislation requires an Environmental Impact Assessment that will occur if carried out. The purpose of the studies is to identify, predict and interpret the impacts that this activity will produce if it is carried out.

Environmental impact is the consequences caused by any action that modifies the subsistence or sustainability conditions of an ecosystem, part of it or the individuals that comprise it. There is no universally accepted quantitative assessment to determine the degree of impact of an impact, except in those cases in which the action that causes it is associated with a measurable quantity; For example, the concentration of a certain contaminant in water.

We know that the provision of drinking water for the consumption of the population, as well as the supply of this element to industries and establishments that require it, is one of the major responsibilities of the municipal authorities.

The high contamination detected in the water supply beds of most of the cities of our country, as well as that of the surface water courses, caused mainly by the lack of adequate services in human concentrations and by industrial activity marginalized from compliance of the environmental norms, it determines that the municipalities should reinforce the control of the quality of the water for human consumption.

One of the basic purposes of an environmental impact assessment is to foresee that a project does not cause significant environmental impacts that affect environmental variables above what society has agreed to protect. To make this purpose viable, it is essential to have an adequate legal framework, which contains the policies and legislation for the protection of the environment, to which the project or action must comply.

In the environmental impact assessment, the biggest problem for the efficient application of this instrument lies in the low level of compliance and effectiveness of the environmental management plans, largely due to the weakness of the monitoring and control mechanisms and the timely application. of corrective measures.

* Cristian Frers - Senior Technician in Environmental Management and Senior Technician in Social Communication.


Video: Biodiversity in social and environmental impact assessments (May 2021).