Key International Initiatives Influencing Approaches to ESIA

Key International Initiatives Influencing Approaches to ESIA

By means of the 1991 Rio Declaration, ESIA has become established as key for environmental decision making throughout the world. Since that time, there have been remarkable developments in ESIA and there are more still to come, particularly with respect to the social equity dimension of sustainable development.

In the 1990s the main developments were refinements of ESIA procedures and linking ESIAs to management systems. The technical content of ESIAs was also improved.

The socio-economic elements of the environment have been given more consideration following these international initiatives: the 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration, the 2000 United Nations Global Compact, the 2002 Global Reporting Initiative, the 2002 Millennium Development Goals, and the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. For the mining industry, further impetus has been added by the findings of research projects from 2000 to 2005 – including the Global Mining Initiative; the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development Project, and the World Bank Extractive Industries Review.

The International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards reflect these developments and have become the new international benchmark for good practice when ESIA are undertaken. The International Council on Mining and Metals’ Sustainable Development Framework also reflects and reinforces these developments.

The scope of socio-economic issues tackled in an ESIA is expanding to cover human rights and labor standards, particularly those standards considered to be of fundamental importance from a human-rights perspective. In addition, indigenous people require special consideration in modern ESIAs. Furthermore, there is an increasing demand for developers to define the socio-economic benefits of their projects explicitly, and provide convincing evidence that they have planned and provided for the realisation of the benefits.

Jane Joughin:


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