Reporting on environmental trends and their interactions with economic and social development is becoming mandatory for many governments and organizations around the world. Assessments and reporting can increase the accountability of decision making and help answer important questions about development and the environment, such as: How effective is our environmental performance? How is it related to current policies? What are the policy options? These are challenging questions that need an integrated approach based on the best scientific knowledge and technical capabilities available.1
Integrated environmental assessment (IEA) is a way of analyzing and communicating environment-society interactions.2
A national IEA is complex and dynamic, and requires careful planning. This module on the design and organization of a national IEA process is based on UNEP’s GEO approach to IEA. The module provides an overview of why the process is important, how it is established and governed, who would participate and in what role. It gives advice on the allocation of resources, and explains the stages involved in setting up and implementing a GEO-based IEA process. It will give you a better understanding of the role and structure of the process, and your role in participating or managing it. This module also explains how other modules in this resource book fit into the IEA process.
This module will be useful not only for national IEA managers, but also for professionals in private or public sectors who are responsible for conducting environmental assessments in an integrated and participatory manner.
The module concentrates on the following aspects of the IEA process:
- securing institutional commitment for an IEA;
- identification of stakeholders and defining their roles;
- instruments for conducting the process;
- allocation of required resources (time, human, financial); and
- interactive process design and its benefits.
A key feature of the GEO approach is the participation and interaction of different experts and stakeholders. This module explains how to identify relevant stakeholders and their roles. It shows approaches to using a participatory process, which could also enhance the capacities of the stakeholders to lead similar processes elsewhere.
Through a participatory process, IEA promotes a better use of existing capacities and information at the national level, which reduces the amount of effort allotted for the IEA and financial costs. Given its interactive process,3 an IEA helps to capitalize on the experience of assessment practitioners and facilitate information exchange.
1. Pintér, L., K. Zahedi and D. Cressman. (1998). Capacity Building for Environmental Assessment and Reporting (IEAR). Winnipeg, MB: IISD for UNEP. www.iisd.org/.
2. For more details regarding GEO and the Integrated Environmental Assessment, review modules 1 and 5.
3. Interactive process stands for a process that stimulates the exchange of ideas, consider different points of view based on scientific and empirical evidence, that generates a value added knowledge and enrich the analysis.