Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment: The State and Prospects in China

October 18, 2010

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was first introduced to China in 1972. The Environmental Impact Assessment Law was officially promulgated in 2002. In the past 30 years, EIA with its framework legislation, procedures and expertise has played a key role in China's efforts to improve and protect the environment.

On April 10, 2010 the World Bank in partnership with the Ministry of Environment Protection of China, Tsinghua University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong organized a parallel event to the 2010 Annual Meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) in Geneva to review the state of the EIA and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in China. This event brought together academics, government officials, practitioners and key stakeholders to discuss, exchange views and share their experiences on SEA and EIA developments and prospects in China as well as on the ongoing SEAs of five mega-regions in China - a national initiative which covers 15 provinces. A summary report of the conference parallel event is now available.

The report contains a series of recommendations on how SEA and EIA can more effectively contribute to the environmental and social challenges China is facing towards sustainable growth and development. These recommendations pertain to strengthening environmental assessment in China and better integrating it into decision making, linking SEA with the planning process, developing methodologies that address uncertainty in SEAs, SEA capacity building, follow-up of SEA recommendations in actions, cumulative impacts, assessment of carrying capacity, adaptive management, taking into account social dimensions, public participation and disclosure, environmental performance incentives and economic benefits.