|Initial Environmental Assessment: Urban Development - Series no 12 (NORAD, 1996)|
An initial assessment has the objective of helping planners and project desk officers to assess a project in relation to environmental impacts. The initial assessment shall provide a survey of environmental impacts likely to ensue if a project is implemented. Usually an initial assessment will be based on easily accessible information, former research, the local population's views, etc.
Only potential environmental impacts, direct and indirect, are identified in the initial assessment. Estimates are not assumed to be substantiated by special accounts or registrations, but rather comes under a full assessment. An initial assessment ought to be mastered by personnel without specialist knowledge of that particular project type, or of environmental impacts in general. In the course of an initial assessment, the project desk officer may nevertheless find it necessary to consult environmental expertise.
The initial assessment should attempt to clarify both positive and negative environmental impacts. However, since the major positive effects are usually included in the main project account, the initial assessment will tend to lean towards potential negative impacts.
The EIA-system affords no easy solutions to weighing positive and negative aspects against one another in a decision-making process. This is because there are seldom clear objective criteria or threshold values for which environmental impacts are acceptable or not.
This booklet provides a survey of required information as well as questions that need to be answered in an initial assessment of urban development projects.
To offer a brief overview of the subject, Part I describes what this normally comprises, and what environmental impacts in particular can be expected. It stresses an account of the specific problems often faced by urban development projects in developing countries and tropical areas. Part I in this booklet has a slightly different outline than the other booklets in this series. This is due to the fact that urban development is considered more an issue than a project category.
Part II offers a more specific account of the kind of information that ought to be available as well as questions that should be answered in an initial assessment of urban development.