Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) ensures that environmental, and where required, social and economic information is incorporated into decision making. EIA is designed to support decisions on project approval, and is often tied to decision-making on environmental licensing. In many countries, EIA also forms the basis for an Environmental (and Social) Management Plan (EMP) and licensing conditions. In combination, EIA, environmental licensing, and enforcement of the EMP and licensing conditions ensure timely identification and the continual management of environmental risks. In this way the EIA/licensing system helps to ensure that economic growth is achieved in an environmental, social, and economically responsible way.
For this EIA and licensing system to make a difference on the ground, sufficient resources need to be available. The costs associated with this system are typically partly covered by the proponent of the activity and partly by the licensing and licence enforcing governmental agencies. The resources required by the government agencies are related to their role in: Ensuring that the EIA report and EMP are accurate, complete and appropriate. Ensuring that well-informed and accountable project approval decisions are taken, and include suitable monitoring arrangements and mitigation measures. Ensuring that the licensed activity is implemented as has been approved.