In a previous blog post, I shared my draft article, “The Emergence of the Environmental Impact Assessment Duty as a Global Legal Norm and General Principle of Law,” which described a global survey of the environmental impact assessment duty in legal systems across the world. For a direct link to the manuscript, click here. The link to the survey can be found at the end of this blog post (Part 1). There was also a chart and a map that I provided in the previous blog post, and that is duplicated below.
As I noted in the article, the survey finds that there are now at least 183 countries or jurisdictions (out of a total of 197 surveyed (i.e. all of the UN member states plus a few other jurisdictions) that have adopted the EIA norm within their legal systems. In essence, globalization and other trends have made the EIA duty – the duty to perform environmental impact assessments for projects that are likely to have a significant impact on the environment – a globally accepted norm.
The article also argues that the EIA duty may now be seen as a “general principle of law recognized by civilized nations,” and in that sense has joined the body of public international law. Finally, the survey results also point to comparative law methodology as a promising opportunity for identifying new legal norms in the international environmental law field. (And for those frustrated with the cumbersome process of treaty negotiation or the time-consuming development of customary law, this should be of particular interest.)
It may be worth noting that the survey is different from most other EIA law surveys and databases in its evaluative orientation: it did not merely inquire into whether a jurisdiction had created a system facilitating the application of the EIA process, but more specifically whether a jurisdiction actually legally mandated the performance of an environmental impact assessment. In other words, the survey sought to answer the question whether a jurisdiction has adopted an EIA duty or legal norm.
Because there is no other such survey available, I am making the relevant (and some connected items) available in a chart-form for review by the public. The link can be found below. In return, I hope to obtain assistance by other environmental scholars, lawyers, professionals or regulators with the survey. To the extent your review identifies a mistake or inaccuracy (or can provide useful supplementary information for the survey), please share that information with me. Specifically, I would greatly appreciate any assistance in clarifying the status of several countries which I was not able to classify with confidence as either having an EIA duty or not. These systems were designated as “Unclear” and include: 1) Central African Republic, 2) Holy See, 3) San Marino, 4) Monaco, 5) St. Vincent and Grenadines, 6) St. Lucia, 7) St. Kitts and Nevis, and 8) Barbados.
They survey chart has 14 columns, as follows:
- Country or Jurisdiction
- EIA Law? [classifications: Yes, No, Unclear]
- First Enabling Law Year [first year when law required EIA (or allowed for the application of the EIA duty if implementing regulations were necessary)]
- Current Enabling Law Year [Enactment of current applicable EIA law]
- Enabling Law (usually most current) [Title of the currently applicable EIA law, or most current that was available to us]
- Decree/Regs Year [Year of the implementing regulations or decree, usually the most current]
- Title of the decree or regulations
- EIA duty found in [reference to the EIA law that imposes the EIA duty]
- Text of EIA duty [text excerpt from EIA law]
- Language [language of the EIA law]
- Duty Confirmation [see explanation below]
- Duty Conf 2 [see explanation below]
- Link 4 Legislation [URL link to the EIA legislation – unfortunately not functional in the .pdf chart]
- Link 5 Regulation/Other [URL link to the implementing regulation or other relevant document – unfortunately not functional in the .pdf chart]
In reading the survey chart, note that the most important columns for purposes of my study and article, apart from the country name and whether it was classified as having an EIA duty or not (Yes, No, Unclear) (columns 1 & 2), were columns 11 & 12 (“Duty Confirmation” and “Duty Conf 2”). Columns 11 & 12 provide references and citations to official government reports as well as scholarly articles, statements, presentations, and websites that were relied on in classifying the EIA norm status of a jurisdiction. The reports, websites, and articles that were used most heavily with respect to this determination are listed in Part 2 of this blog post; these are referenced in column 11 (Duty Confirmation). Column 12 lists other sources that were relied on more sporadically for specific jurisdictions.
Please also note that the survey chart’s information about legislation (columns 3-5, 8-9), regulations (columns 5-6) and URL links (column 13-14) should be used with some circumspection. While my research fellows collected and included in the survey chart information about the year in which the EIA legislation was first enacted and the titles of current EIA legislation (as well as similar information about implementing regulations), the information was not critical to the objective of the survey. Accordingly, that information was not scrutinized and checked as carefully as columns 11 & 12. (Please see the description of the Survey Process and Methodology in Part 2 for additional explanation.)
In regards to columns 13 & 14, described as URL links — unfortunately, because of my technological clumsiness, I can only provide the survey chart as a .pdf document, which does not actually have working URL links. Once I have a technologically-capable research assistant, I plan to remedy that.
Finally, please review the survey methodology below to properly understand the result. (The description is mostly taken from the draft article itself.) However, I would like to state in advance that I am sure that the survey is not perfect, and that I appreciate any assistance in correcting inaccuracies or mistakes. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Here is the link to the survey: