Impact Assessment

Why is it Important?

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) recognize impact assessment as an important tool for helping ensure that development is planned and implemented with biodiversity in mind. The CBD requests Parties to apply impact assessment to projects, programmes, plans and policies with a potential negative impact on biodiversity.

Biodiversity is relevant to all types of impact assessment and should be addressed at all levels, from environmental impact assessment carried out for individual projects (EIA) to the strategic environmental assessment of policies, plans and programmes (SEA). Its values should be addressed in social impact assessment; health impact assessment may need to consider the role of biodiversity in disease transmission or biological control. Finally, biodiversity provides commodities for international trade that may be the subject of study in trade impact assessment (sometimes referred to as sustainability impact assessment).

EIA procedures should refer to other relevant national, regional and international legislation, regulations, guidelines and other policy documents such as the national biodiversity strategy and action plan (NBSAP) documents, the CBD and biodiversity-related conventions and agreements, including, in particular, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); the CMS and related agreements; the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971); the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context; the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; the European Union directives on environmental impact assessment; and the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-based Sources.

Consideration should be given to improving integration of NBSAPs and national development strategies using SEA as a tool for such integration to promote the establishment of clear conservation targets through the NBSAP process. These targets should then be used for the screening and scoping of targets of EIA and for developing mitigation measures.