Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment

Utrecht, Netherlands

Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment

Utrecht, Netherlands
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Axelsson A.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Annandale D.,Integra Consulting Services | Cashmore M.,University of East Anglia | Slunge D.,Gothenburg University | And 3 more authors.
Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal | Year: 2012

This professional practice report reflects upon lessons learned from piloting and evaluating an innovative approach to policy strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in developing countries. The primary analytical focuses of the approach are institutions and governance characteristics, plus it places strong emphasis on learning. The piloting provides valuable insights about the conduct of SEA at the policy level and in socio-political where there is limited experience with SEA. From our observations we reflect upon the importance of appropriate ownership of an SEA; the practical implications of working in contested political environments; the challenges in using SEA as a tool to promote good governance; and the centrality of a long-term perspective to environmental and social mainstreaming. © 2012 Copyright IAIA.


Joshi D.,Wageningen University | Buit G.,Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment | Gonzalez-Botero D.,University of East Anglia
Waterlines | Year: 2015

This paper discusses the recent attention of the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector to resolving the menstrual hygiene crisis for young girls in developing countries. Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) interventions, including the use of sanitary pads, education and awareness, and where possible separate, sanitary toilets, are identified to have far-reaching impacts on the education and empowerment of girls. Field research conducted in Ghana's Northern Region indicates a pronounced socialized, sexualized understanding and experience of menstruation among young girls and their families, school teachers, and local NGOs. Unfortunately WASH initiatives only allow interventions to manage menstrual hygiene, leaving the young girls and others in their social settings to deal with the larger subset of sexuality issues. We argue that opening the dominant discourse of a medicalized concept of menstruation to other meanings and experiences will have significant implications for the education and empowerment of young adolescent girls. © Practical Action Publishing, 2015.


Kolhoff A.J.,Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment | Runhaar H.A.C.,University Utrecht | Runhaar H.A.C.,Wageningen University | Gugushvili T.,Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Impact Assessment Review | Year: 2016

In this paper, we aim to better understand the factors that contribute to the substantive performance of EIA systems in low and middle income countries. Substantive performance is defined as the extent to which the EIA process contributes to the EIA objectives for the long term, namely environmental protection or, even more ambitious, sustainable development. We have therefore developed a conceptual model in which we focus on the key actors in the EIA system, the proponent and the EIA authority and their level of ownership as a key capacity to measure their performance, and we distinguish procedural performance and some contextual factors. This conceptual model is then verified and refined for the EIA phase and the EIA follow-up phase (permitting, monitoring and enforcement) by means of 12 case studies from Ghana (four cases) and Georgia (eight cases), both lower-middle income countries. We observe that in most cases the level of substantive performance increases during the EIA phase but drops during the EIA follow-up phase, and as a result only five out of 12 operational cases are in compliance with permit conditions or national environmental standards. We conclude, firstly that ownership of the proponent is the most important factor explaining the level of substantive performance; the higher the proponent's level of ownership the higher the level of substantive performance. The influence of the EIA authority on substantive performance is limited. Secondly, the influence of procedural performance on substantive performance seems less important than expected in the EIA phase but more important during the EIA follow-up phase.In order to improve substantive performance we learned two lessons. Firstly, increasing the proponent's level of ownership seems obvious, but direct change is probably difficult. However, where international finance institutes are involved they can increase ownership. Despite the limited influence of the EIA authority, a proactive strategy of, for example, working together with international finance institutes has a slightly larger influence than a reactive strategy. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.


van Loon L.,Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and Innovation | Driessen P.P.J.,Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and Innovation | Kolhoff A.,Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment | Runhaar H.A.C.,Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and Innovation
Environmental Impact Assessment Review | Year: 2010

Most countries worldwide nowadays apply Environmental Assessment (EA) as an ex ante tool to evaluate environmental impacts of policies, plans, programmes, and projects. However, the application and performance of EA differ significantly. Scientific analysis of how EA performs mainly focuses on two levels: the micro (or project) level and the macro (or system) level. Macro level analysis usually focuses on institutions for EA and the organisation of stakeholder interaction in EA. This article proposes a more comprehensive framework for analysing EA systems that combines other approaches with a capacity approach and an explicit consideration of the context in which EA systems are developed and performed. In order to illustrate the value of our framework, we apply it to the Republic of Yemen, where over the last decades many EA capacity development programmes have been executed; however, EA performance has not substantially improved. The Yemen case study illustrates that the capacity development approach allows an understanding of the historical process, the stakeholders, the knowledge component, and the material and technical aspects of EA, but perhaps more important is a systemic understanding of the outcomes: problems are not isolated, but influence and even maintain each other. In addition, by taking into account the context characteristics, our framework allows for the assessment of the feasibility of capacity development programmes that aim at improving EA system performance. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Glucker A.N.,University Utrecht | Driessen P.P.J.,University Utrecht | Kolhoff A.,Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment | Runhaar H.A.C.,University Utrecht
Environmental Impact Assessment Review | Year: 2013

Even a cursory glance at the literature on environmental impact assessment (EIA) reveals that public participation is being considered as an integral part of the assessment procedure. Public participation in EIA is commonly deemed to foster democratic policy-making and to render EIA more effective. Yet a closer look at the literature unveils that, beyond this general assertion, opinions of the precise meaning, objectives and adequate representation of public participation in EIA considerably diverge. Against this background, in this article we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the academic debate on public participation in EIA concerning its meaning, objectives and adequate level of inclusiveness. In so doing, we hope to stimulate a more focused debate on the subject, which is key to advancing the research agenda. Furthermore, this paper may serve as a starting point for practitioners involved in defining the role of public participation in EIA practice. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.


Kolhoff A.J.,Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment | Driessen P.P.J.,University Utrecht | Runhaar H.A.C.,University Utrecht
Environmental Impact Assessment Review | Year: 2013

Actors in the field of international development co-operation supporting the development of EIA legislation in developing countries often do not achieve the results envisaged. The performance of EIA in these countries often remains weak. One reason, we assume, is that often those actors support the establishment of overly ambitious EIA legislation that cannot achieve its objectives in the light of constraining contexts. To provide more effective support we need to better understand the enabling and constraining contextual factors that influence the development of EIA legislation and to which support actors should align itself. In this article a new analysis framework for classifying, characterizing and explaining the development of EIA legislation is described, measured in terms of ambition levels. Ambitions are defined as intentions the EIA authorities aim to fulfill, expressed in formal EIA legislation. Three country cases, Yemen, Georgia and Ghana are used to illustrate the usefulness of our framework and as a first test to refine the framework. We have formulated the following five hypotheses that complement and refine our analysis framework. One, EIA legislation may develop multilinearly in terms of ambition levels. Two, ambitions in EIA legislation seem to be influenced to a great extent by the power and capacity of, on the one hand, the environmental authorities supporting EIA and, on the other hand, the sector authorities hindering the development of EIA. Three, the political system is the most important context factor influencing the rules of policy-making and the power of the different actors involved. Four, the importance of context factors on the development of ambitions is dependent on the phase of EIA system development. Five, some ambitions seem to be influenced by particular factors; for instance the ambitions for the object of study seem to be influenced by the level of environmental awareness of the sector ministries and parliament.The analysis framework may also assist actors involved in the development of EIA legislation in setting ambitions for EIA legislation that are feasible within the context in which it will be developed and implemented. Application of a country-specific EIA model would seem to be the preferred model to develop EIA legislation because by taking capacities of actors and context factors as a starting point, it offers more potential to well-performing EIA systems. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


van Doren D.,University Utrecht | Driessen P.P.J.,University Utrecht | Schijf B.,Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment | Runhaar H.A.C.,University Utrecht
Environmental Impact Assessment Review | Year: 2013

Evaluating the substantive effectiveness of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is vital in order to know to what extent the tool fulfills its purposes and produces expected results. However, the studies that have evaluated the substantive effectiveness of SEA produce varying outcomes as regards the tool's contribution to decision-making and have used a variety of approaches to appraise its effectiveness. The aim of this article is to discuss the theoretical concept of SEA substantive effectiveness and to present a new approach that can be applied for evaluation studies. The SEA effectiveness evaluation framework that will be presented is composed of concepts of, and approaches to, SEA effectiveness derived from SEA literature and planning theory. Lessons for evaluation can be learned from planning theory in particular, given its long history of analyzing and understanding how sources of information and decisions affect (subsequent) decision-making. Key concepts of this new approach are 'conformance' and 'performance'. In addition, this article presents a systematic overview of process and context factors that can explain SEA effectiveness, derived from SEA literature. To illustrate the practical value of our framework for the assessment and understanding of substantive effectiveness of SEA, three Dutch SEA case studies are examined. The case studies have confirmed the usefulness of the SEA effectiveness assessment framework. The framework proved helpful in order to describe the cumulative influence of the three SEAs on decision-making and the ultimate plan. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

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