12, July, 2013

Improving Environmental Management of Extractives through Environmental Impact Assessments

How have Latin American countries been using Environmental Impact Assessments in order to build more sustainable extractive industries? A focus on Peru provides some interesting lessons.

Is it possible to develop extractive industries while preserving the environment? Several Latin American countries have been attempting to improve the environmental sustainability of their extractive industry sectors by developing their legal frameworks, in particular through the use and adaptation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) tool. This Brief focuses primarily on experiences in Peru, where integration of the EIA into extractive industry policy has been extensive.  The Brief focuses on three particularly noteworthy innovations implemented in Peru: mine closure plans; regulation and approval mechanisms; and citizen participation.  Overall, the Brief aims to offer an understanding of the advances, challenges and debates around the implementation of EIAs when seeking a balance between environmental sustainability and extractive sector development. The lessons drawn from Peru and other Latin American countries may be useful for other regions struggling to balance extractive industry development with environmentally sustainable approaches to land use.

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Key Lessons:

  • Incorporating the EIA into environmental management policies can help countries to build more sustainable extractive industry sectors.
  • Closure plans represent one mechanism being used to strengthen environmental management by committing private investors to mitigate the long-term environmental impacts that typically undermined the sustainability of extractive projects.
  • EIA processes should be closely regulated by the state, but independently evaluated in order to improve transparency and legitimacy.
  • (Español) Es fundamental desarrollar mecanismos de participación ciudadana. En Perú, la ley ha establecido un reglamento de consulta y participación ciudadana en el procedimiento de aprobación de los estudios ambientales, aunque es solo un primer paso ya que el país todavía enfrenta desafíos para lograr una participación efectiva.

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