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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Environmental impact assessment and capacity building.

Posted By: Maria Rosario Partidario
Date: Thursday, 1 July 1999, at 4:30 p.m.

In Response To: Cost benefit analysis of major infrastructural developments / Papua New Guinea. (Haraka Gaudi.)

I read the case with interest.

NEED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT: Very briefly, this is a case where Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is clearly absent in practice, although Mr. Gaudi refers at some point to Environmental Impact Studies. Is EIA indeed a reality in PNG, legally based and fully operative or just an occasional exercise? On the other hand, his point clearly calls for the need to adopt more sustainable management approaches, which involves local rationalities and cultural values, and certainly a totally different methodological approach with respect to EIA.

ORIENTATION OF MAJOR LENDING AGENCIES: The reference to the World Bank and IMF structural adjustment programmes being too economic oriented is worrying, especially in view of the recent intentions of the World Bank to undertake environmental assessments of their structural adjustment programmes. I have recently been discussing the issue with some World Bank people and in fact, as they say, it is still only on paper! No doubt though that this is one sensitive point to address: that's where most funding is coming from!

NEED FOR A MULTI-SECTORAL APPROACH: Here again is a situation where an approach is needed on various fronts:

- through increased capacity-building at national technical level, to enable more PNG experts to think and act for themselves;

- through assistance in developing planning and environmental management tools, such as EIA and sustainable management plans (coastal or other);

- through local people awareness, to create a reactive front that will focus and make more effective the apparently increasing local reactions to any kind of development that undermines local resources and local environmental quality.

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