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Environmental Asessements – An Introduction

An environmental assessment consists of a set of investigative technical procedures conducted in a specific area to identify, evaluate and mitigate the biophysical, social and other relevant impacts of a given event or project on the environment, with a view to ensuring that such considerations be integrated into policy and decision-making in the region.

The process comprises four main phases:

Phase 1: Reconnaissance

Phase 2: Sampling

Phase 3: Laboratory analysis

Phase 4: Reporting

The first stage of an environmental assessment is a desk study phase including a survey of the region by satellite imagery, a review of the findings of previous reports and the collation of local anecdotal information. This is followed by a period of field observation and a preliminary evaluation of potential environmental impacts.

Based on the data collected in the reconnaissance field surveys, experts install monitoring equipment and collect soil and water samples from selected sites in the field.

This third phase is conducted by an independent internationally-accredited laboratory, to ensure unbiased scientific analysis.

Samples recovered by the UNEP teams are individually labelled with a unique reference number that includes the exact geographic coordinates of the location from where each was taken. This number stays with the samples throughout the laboratory analysis phase, allowing for cross-referencing.

UNEP experts then ship the samples to the laboratory on a regular basis. Sample integrity is maintained by using containers provided by the laboratory and standard refrigeration processes throughout their transportation.

The results of the environmental assessment are then collated and published in a comprehensive report.

The report presents the findings of the different technical teams and offer recommendations for remediation.

Once the report has been released, it is made available to the public in print and online.

Glossary of Terms

For a comprehensive list of Environment and Disaster terms