New EIA method incorporates ecosystems services

21st November 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Construction ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Stakeholder engagement



The World Resources Institute (WRI) has outlined a new approach to environmental impact assessment to help practitioners effectively account for ecosystems services.

In the first of two papers explaining its concept of “ecosystem services review for impact assessment”, the WRI introduces a new framework designed to help practitioners link ecosystems services to the project being assessed.

Building on the method used in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the WRI’s guidance is based on recognising the relationships between the project, human wellbeing and the drivers of ecosystem change, and provides advice on how to integrate those separately assessed elements into EIA as well as on how to engage stakeholders.

The creation of the WRI’s framework follows the International Finance Corporation’s announcement that it will require projects applying for funding to “maintain the benefits from ecosystem services” from 1 January 2012.

A WRI survey of EIA practitioners around the world, found that 85% of the respondent do not believe existing guidance provides the level of support they need to integrate ecosystems services into their EIA.

The first paper, “An introduction and guide to scoping”, outlines the WRI’s method and how to apply it during the scoping stage. It will be followed by a second paper early next year that will describe implementing the framework during impact analysis and mitigation elements of the process.

“Addressing ecosystem services in EIA can improve the economic, social and ecological outcomes of development projects,” said Florence Landsberg, research associate on the WRI’s people and ecosystems programme and co-author of the papers. “However, existing EIA practices usually assess impacts on biophysical and socio-economic topics separately, and don’t promote integrated impact assessment.

“The ESR for IA complements current EIA practices by providing the vision and detailed instructions for a collaborative process between environmental and social practitioners.”

Jo Treweek an environmental consultant and co-author of the WRI papers said they will help practitioners in the field.

“Dealing with ecosystem services in impact assessment is new to many and can seem a daunting task,” she said. “The review toolkit helps practitioners to identify and prioritise issues to focus on, making the task seem more tractable.”

The WRI will be working with selected projects to apply the framework between January and September 2012, before finalising the guidance into a single document later next year. To download the first paper and for details on how to provide your feedback on the framework visit the WRI website.

Transform articles

Local authorities could have saved Green Homes Grant

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

The UK government is not on track to deliver on its promise to improve the environment within a generation and is failing to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, a damning new report from MPs has revealed.

1st July 2021

Read more

Renewable energy will account for nearly 40% of the world's power mix by the end of this decade, overtaking coal within the next few years, according to research by GlobalData.

24th June 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert