The 'greening' of development policy New procedures under Lomé IV
by Tim Clarke
One of the innovations of the LomV Convention compared with
its predecessors is the existence of a special Title on the Environment.
Although opinions differ about the relative importance to ix given to the
environment as compared with, for example, social or economic concerns, few
would deny that an environmental analysis should be an essential element of any
project appraisal process.
The basic question to be resolved is how this should be done. If
you ask ten different people what they mean by 'the environment' you will
probably get ten different answers. Some would say that it consists of our
physical surroundings: the air we breathe, the land we cultivate, the water we
drink. Others say that this is too restrictive. What about the social
environment, the cultural environment, or the ecological relationship between
humans and other fauna and flora? What about the global environment: carbon
dioxide levels, climatic factors, the ozone layer and so on?
The first task in any environmental appraisal is to define its
scope: in other words, what to include and what to exclude in the process. This
is a difficult task in itself, but if you manage to do it, the next step is to
try and predict potential environmental impacts. Some are relatively simple to
judge. Others are much more complex.
Suppose, for example, that the project involve the
rehabilitation of a road which passes through a forest. The road will need a new
surface as well as realignment in certain parts. It is relatively easy for the
engineer to calculate how much aggregate is needed, where it has to be quarried,
how far it has to be transported and how much forest will be lost in the
realignment process. The environmental impacts of all these operations can be
quantified and a judgment made as to their level of acceptability or
significance. It is even possible to calculate how much it would cost in
monetary terms to quarry the material from elsewhere, or choose an alignment
that reduces the loss of forest.
But what about the less quantifiable elements of such a project?
What will be the environmental impact of an increase in the number of people
travelling on the road, thus generating roadside settlements? This results in
forms encroachment, with trees being cut down for fuelwood and land being
cleared for food production. What about increased demand for water and fuel?
What about ecological changes induced by such settlement patterns? And quite
apart from the ecological factors, what monetary value should be placed on the
loss of forest?
Then there is the problem of how one measures species losses,
which are loss" not only to the country concerned but to the biosphere as a
whole. Who should pay for such loss" - the project or the world community? This
is an issue which is particularly difficult to resolve. Is an elephant or an
ancient baobab tree worth ECU 500, ECU 10 000, ECU 100 000, or some other
figure? To an African farmer, an elephant can be a major pest and a threat to
life. To a trophy hunter, and a game department, it may be worth ECU 30 000. To
a country that is highly reliant on tourism, it could be worth many times this
A similar difficulty arises when calculating environmental risk
to human health in urban areas suffering from traffic congestion. According to
recent US Department of Traffic actuarial tables, an American or European life
is worth be tween $1m and $4m, and road design must take account of this. In ACP
countries, data on the value attached to a human life for such purposes are
harder to obtain, but present economic analyses do not use values anything
approaching these figures.
K you cannot value a resource, how do you judge its importance?
In conventional cost-benefit analyses, an attempt is made to weigh up in
economic terms whether or not a development project will bring positive economic
benefits. But if you cannot value the loss of a wildlife resource, or an
amenity, or the reduction in air or water quality, this creates a problem.
Usually, the price tag that is assigned reflects only the market value of the
traceable items; for example the timber produced as a result of the tree
felling. Cultural, social or ecological values do not enter the equation. The
result, historically, has been a gross underestimate of the real value of the
resource to the community, and the approval of projects which degrade the
environment, sometimes irreversibly.
Opinions differ as to whether it is better to include
environmental factors in the economic assessment or treat them independently in
a self-standing appraisal. There is no 'correct' answer here and, in practice,
both approaches have been used.
New tool for environmental appraisal
Article 37 of the fourth Lomonvention sets out the
requirement for the European Union and its ACP partners to design and implement
cooperation instruments that are appropriate to environmental needs. In 1990, in
pursuance of this obligation, the Commission initiated an appraisal of existing
Lomnvironmental procedures. Existing environmental assessment provisions
which were taken into account during this exercise included the 1985 OECD
recommendations (adopted as guidelines in 1991), the EC's own Directive which
entered into force in 1987, the various rules applied by the Member States, the
arrangements then in place regarding development cooperation under the Lomonventions, and the World Bank's Operational Directive which first came into
effect in 1989 (new guidelines issued in 1991).
This review coincided with a parallel internal Commission
examination of its project appraisal procedures which led to the adoption of the
'Logical Framework and the Integrated Approach'.
The present version of the Environmental Manual was first
published in June 1993 and it has a number of novel features. It is, for
example, the first attempt both to synthesise the environmental screening
procedures of the Community, OECD countries and World Bank in a single document,
and to link these directly into the logical framework process. Additionally, it
has a simple, user-friendly, colour-coded design, aimed at the nonspecialist.
The information is presented in the form of a hierarchy, from simple to
detailed, and the non-specialist who wishes to obtain further information can
have access to the most up-to-date reference sources in an accompanying Source
book (which is available on diskette).
The publication of the Manual coincided with the establishment
of a number of internal Commission Environment Training Programmes. These were
designed to encourage practical application of the new approach by Commission
and ACP staff working in the field.
Initial feedback has so far been favourable but there is not
enough field experience as yet to tell whether it really is an effective
Looking to the future
During the next two years a number of developments are foreseen.
These include the insertion of new sections in the Manual on Strategic
Environment Planning, and Protected Areas Management, together with additional
guidelines on environmental economics. In addition, discussions are planned with
the EU Member States in order to determine how far it is possible to make the
Lomnvironmental procedures more consistent with those of the Member States
themselves. Further developments within the OECD are also expected while, at the
multilateral level, the CIDIE organisations, which include most development
banks and UN bodies, will be examining the issue.
When concerns about the effect of human activity on the global
environment first moved on to the political agenda, it was perhaps inevitable
that the initial policy response of national and international bodies would be
ad hoc. But it has not taken long for those working in this field to recognise
that environmental protection must be properly integrated into policy design in
all fields and that a coherent approach from all the players is needed to ensure
maximum impact. Lessons can be learnt from each other so that 'best practice'
can be identified and adopted. This philosophy has been accepted by the European
Commission in the implementation of its cooperation policy and, although it is
too early to assess the results, the benefits should ultimately be seen in more
environmentally sustainable development projects and schemes.