Albania : Round table for EIA&SEA checklists

Tirana, 19.04.2018 - Environmental Impact Assessment is the process of identifying the future consequences of proposed actions in order to ensure that environmental consequences are properly taken into account in the decision-making process. Through the proactive identification of the consequences, the environmental impact assessment facilitates informed decision-making based on the social acceptance of the environmental risks of economic development. Meanwhile, the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is the process of identifying the future implications of future policies, plans and programs in order to ensure that the environmental consequences are integrated with social and economic assessments in strategic decision-making. The goal is to avoid the environmental changes that would end in the damage network of local residents and their environment. When done properly, these assessments ensure transparency and inclusion, disseminate democratic values, and enhance community participation in the development of society.

Raising their awareness and knowledge of public transparency and public participation in consultations of various projects is the focus of the CO-SEED project. In order to increase the activation of participants in the public consultations of EIA and SEA studies, a round table with the key stakeholder of the process of the preparation of EIA and SEA was organized to present two important documents that the project has prepared. A number of guidance documents are now available, aimed at better preparation and evaluation of SEA studies. Most of them are prepared from field specialists and decision-makers, and only a few of them aim to ensure that participants, who are not specialists of the process, give the best possible thoughts. To help filling this gap, this document aims to provide guidance on engagement in decision-making for strategic environmental assessments for people who are not specialists. This document will be used by non-profit organizations and members of local communities to assess whether all relevant aspects of environmental impact assessment are taken into account in an EIA /SEA study.

These checklists focus only on the scientific and technical suitability of the environmental study of EIA and SEA. They are not scoring instruments that would result in setting 'grades' for the quality of the evaluation. Rather, they provide guidance to the interested community to give them the opportunity to offer their high quality feedback versus EIA and SEA studies. Answering a number of questions, readers should be able to conclude which parts of an EIA / SEA study, if any, do not achieve good practice standards and which information is missing or not sufficiently assessed. In this way, evaluators can form constructive and reliable reactions to be shared during public consultations.

At this roundtable representatives of NEA, CSOs and independent environmental experts participated who attended the half-day meeting where the organizers explained what the checklist documents are for the EIA and SEA, what they contain and how they can be used. The Project Coordinator explained in detail why these documents have been drafted and what their purpose is to use.

All participants expressed their interest in the documents and made a productive discussion of the content of the documents and their way of using them. They provided fruitful proposals on how to increase participants' interest in using them during EIA and SEA processes.