Environmental impact assessment and sustainable development: A critical review

Benjamin Betey Campion, Godfred Essel


Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has evolved and become part of major project requirements in many countries. However, its contribution to sustainable development and reduction in poverty levels of people affected by projects has not been assessed in developing countries. The study examined environmental laws and institutions in selected African countries, compared EIA laws, procedures and practices. Their effects on sustainable development and reduction in poverty are discussed. What is found lacking is the full integration of environmental assessments into planning and decision-making processes of these countries. At present EIA is applied mainly at the project level in these countries. It concluded that Africa is on the right footing towards sound environmental protection and resource management, but increasing poverty and lack of direct investment in project communities, illiteracy and corruption remains the greatest threat to the success of EIA. It recommends that corporate social responsibility with a fixed percentage of profit be made part of EIAs. It enjoins that a critical mass of a project’s community be empowered to actively participate in the early phases of the EIA process to improve benefits to communities and society at large. Sustainable development could thus be achieved on the project level when businesses and communities cooperate for their mutual benefits.

Key words: Environmental Impact Assessment, sustainable development, poverty alleviation, corporate social responsibility, institutions

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/enrr.v3n2p37

Environment and Natural Resources Research   ISSN 1927-0488 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0496 (Online)

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