Impact Assessment


The Conference of the Parties (COP) has adopted five decisions on Article 14: Part C of decision IV/10, decision V/18, Part A of decision VI/7, decision VII/7 and decision VIII/28.

Background and status

At its fourth meeting, the COP asked for information on:

  1. Impact assessments that consider environmental effects and interrelated socio-economic aspects relevant to biological diversity
  2. Strategic environmental assessments
  3. Reports relating to existing legislation on EIA
  4. Reports and case studies relating to EIA in the thematic areas, including on activities with transboundary implications.

The COP requested the Secretariat to prepare a synthesis report based on these submissions for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)(decision IV/10, part C, paragraph 2). It also asked SBSTTA to identify actions to promote implementation of Article 14 and to consider whether there was a need to develop guidelines on the incorporation of biodiversity considerations into environmental impact assessment. SBSTTA considered this issue at its fourth meeting and submitted recommendation IV/6 to COP 5. At its fifth meeting the COP requested SBSTTA to develop guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues in legislation and/or processes on strategic environmental impact assessment with a view to completing this work by COP 6 (decision V/18, paragraph 4).

COP 5 also reiterated the call for information and case studies on impact assessment, and requested the Executive Secretary to disseminate case studies and existing guidelines, procedures and provisions for EIA through, inter alia, the clearing-house mechanism (decision V/18, paragraphs 3, 5). In addition to the development of guidelines, the COP has recommended that appropriate issues related to EIA should be integrated into, and become an integral component of, relevant sectoral and thematic items (decision IV/10C, paragraph 5).

SBSTTA considered draft guidelines developed in collaboration with the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) at its seventh meeting and recommended that COP endorse the guidelines (decision VII/10).

In part A of its decision VI/7, COP adopted the guidelines and decided that they should be further developed on the basis of case studies on the experience undertaken with the application of the guidelines and additional specific guidance provided. In response to this decision, and based on a few case studies and additional material provided through IAIA, the Executive Secretary prepared proposals for the further development of the guidelines (document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/18). In paragraph 4 of its recommendation IX/1 SBSTTA took note of these proposals and decided to follow up on decision VI/7 A at one of its future meetings. Taking note of the SBSTTA recommendation, the COP, in its decision VII/7, urged Parties to contribute case-studies on current experiences in environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment procedures that incorporate biodiversity-related issues as well as experiences in applying the guidelines contained in the annex to decision VI/7 A.

On the basis of these case studies, the Secretariat, in collaboration with the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment, the Biodiversity & Ecology section of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) and the IAIA project on Capacity-Building on Biodiversity and Impact Assessment (CBBIA) elaborated guidelines for EIA and SEA in accordance with the guidance provided by the COP. In decision VIII/28 voluntary guidelines on biodiversity-inclusive impact assessment for both project and strategic level impact assessment were endorsed.

COP Guidance

At its fifth meeting, the COP invited Parties, Governments and other organizations to take certain actions at the national level to address biodiversity concerns in environmental impact assessment (decision V/18, paragraph 1). The COP has also emphasized the need to ensure involvement of interested and affected stakeholders in all stages of the assessment process, including indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles and NGOs (decision IV/10, part C, paragraph 7; decision V/18, paragraph 1(d)).

Parties have also been encouraged to assess not only impacts of individual projects, but also their cumulative and global effects through strategic environmental assessment, incorporating biodiversity considerations at the decision-making and/or environmental planning level (decision V/18, paragraph 2(a)).

Guidance to Parties related to EIAs has been included in the programmes of work on agricultural biodiversity (decision V/5 paragraph 23; annex B, paragraph 2.2(b)), forest biological diversity (decision VI/22, annex, programme element 2, goal 1, objective 3 (h)), biological diversity of inland water ecosystems (decision VII/4), marine and coastal biological diversity (decision VII/5) and mountain biological diversity (decision VII/27).

At its sixth meeting, the COP urged Parties, other Governments and organizations to apply the guidelines on integrating biodiversity considerations in EIA and SEA as appropriate in the context of their implementation of paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Convention and to share their experience, inter alia, through the clearing-house mechanism and national reporting (decision VI/7 A paragraph 2).

At its sixth meeting, the COP also requested that Parties submit current experiences in EIA and SEA procedures that incorporate biodiversity-related issues (decision VI/7 A paragraph 3). This request was reiterated by COP7 (decision VII/7).

At its seventh meeting, the COP requested Parties and other Governments to use the Akwé: Kon voluntary guidelines for the conduct of cultural, environmental and social impact assessments regarding developments proposed to take place on, or which are likely to impact on, sacred sites and on lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous and local communities (decision VII/16 Part F), as appropriate, in conjunction with the guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment legislation and/or process and in strategic environmental assessment (decision VII/7 Part A).

At its eighth meeting, the COP urged Parties and organizations to apply the voluntary guidelines on biodiversity-inclusive impact assessment and to share their experience in their application. The COP also requested the Secretariat to facilitate capacity-development for the application of the guidelines and their adaptation to country- and sector-specific needs.