EIA

Simplifying the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedures in the Philippines

Date posted: 
Dec 12 2009

The practice is an on-going and continuous process to stream line and simplify the conduct of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures.

Responsible Party: 
Enforcement Agency
I. Objectives or Impact: 

The practice is an on-going and continuous process to stream line and simplify the conduct of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures. Sector/subsector: The practice covers environmentally critical projects as well as non-environmentally critical projects located in environmentally critical areas.

II. Description of the Good Practice (Outputs): 

The EIA is primarily a planning tool. On the other hand, the laws on water, air, solid wastes, toxic and hazardous wastes management are regulatory tools. Aside from the environmental laws, a number of environmental concerns have been traditionally and continues to be effectively addressed by a number of government departments other than the environmental management organizations. Environmental issues are crosscutting, covering various disciplines. The main purpose of the EIA process is to identify the environmental issues and highlight those issues for consideration and incorporation by the decision makers vested with legal authority and technical skills. Other departments such as the land use planning, water resources management, forestry, fisheries, and geosciences share on the task of supervising and addressing environment concerns. These agencies can utilize various tools in their respective expertise and disciplines to do so (e.g. social sciences, engineering). However, instead of the EIA being done as early as possible in the project cycle, the EIA is evaluated and makes room for the previous approvals and decisions of the other departments. As a result the EIA has become useless and in a number of instances. Worse, it often times serves as mere rubber stamp for environmentally destructive projects by confirming the decisions made by other agencies without proper consideration of the environmental issues. In the later case, the EIA process contributes to environmental degradation rather than acting as aid for mitigation. For example, a project may have serious environmental concern. For example, land use a reclassification should not have been granted by the land-use planning agency. However, it is often the case that reclassification comes prior to the EIA evaluation. In this particular case, the EIA merely concurs with earlier decisions made by allied agencies. The EIA agency is then placed in an indecisive position. At the same time, the EIA process is blamed for delayed implementation of important projects designed to address environmental problems such as the sitting of sanitary landfill, construction of sewage treatment plants. This practice realigned the EIA process in its appropriate function in the project cycle, strengthened its role in the decision making process by dictating and highlighting the environmental concerns that other decision makers have to consider rather than the other way around. At the same time, it improves the monitoring and enforcement of the environmental concerns especially those aspects where the burden and responsibility have been placed in other governmental agencies.

III. Outcomes or Results: 

The other agencies take the responsibility of incorporating the findings of the EIA and in the process are made answerable to the public if they disregard the recommendations.

IV. Essential Elements for Success: 

Policy Framework: Enabling Policy, Regulation, Inter-agency/Multiparty Agreements

In the case of the Philippines, the EIA authority is vested on the President of the Republic. The President issued Administrative Order 42 which  clarifies and instructs that the EIA is carried out as early as possible in the project cycle. Similarly, the EIA procedures and guideline were revised to reflect the intent of AO 42. Instead of the EIA requiring prior permits and clearances, the findings of the EIA process highlights and in some instances dictates to the other agencies the important environmental concerns that they have to consider in decision-making.

Human Resources and Skills

There were no additional human resources required. However, a number of seminars and training were carried out to reverse the old practices that made the EIA process irrelevant.

Material and Resources

A number of training materials, guidebooks and information materials were made and distributed to the project proponents.

Institutional Support

The project was carried out with the support of the Asian Development Bank.

V. Further Information: 

References and Publications: AO 42 Revised EIA Guidelines

On-line Application for Certificate of Non-Coverage in the Philippines

Date posted: 
Nov 13 2008

An on-line application process facilitates the evaluation and issuance of Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC) from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) System. A considerable amount of resources are saved, both by the applicant and the concerned agency.

Responsible Party: 
Enforcement Agency
I. Objectives or Impact: 

An on-line application process facilitates the evaluation and issuance of Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC) from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) System. A considerable amount of resources are saved, both by the applicant and the concerned agency.

Sector/subsector:

Non-environmentally critical projects located in non- environmental critical areas, as defined by Presidential Decree 1586 (1978), are not covered by the environmental impact system and as such do not require the preparation of an environmental impact statement. However, a number of project lenders and businesses request for a certificate of non-coverage to establish with certainty that the project is exempted from the EIA process.

II. Description of the Good Practice (Outputs): 

The standard practice was for the project proponent or his representative to secure the forms from the nearest Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) office, fill the forms, and submit it back to the office for evaluation. The EMB office evaluates the submission and informs the project proponent within five working days of the results of the evaluation. Upon receipt of the confirmation, the project proponent pays the applicable fees and collects the CNC.

The process is time consuming especially for applicants who are located far from the EMB regional offices. This is made difficult as well since there are only 13 regional offices serving more than seventy provinces. The project proponent has to go to the regional office three times, first to get the forms, then to submit the forms, and finally to collect the CNC. In fact, the travel time and cost of travel alone could be several times more expensive than the CNC fees. Most often, the project proponent also disturbs the EMB staff from more important workload.

With the improved system, the application form is posted on the Internet. On-line, the project proponent fills it, and submits it electronically. He also submits scanned or fax copies to the concerned EMB office. If he meets all the requirements, he is asked to submit to the EMB office a certified true copy of all the supporting documents, present to the responsible EMB officer the original documents, pay the processing fees, and finally collect the CNC. If the submission is insufficient to support the application, he is informed of the deficiency through electronic mail, rather taking a trip to the EMB regional office.

III. Outcomes or Results: 

The practice reduced the cost of securing the CNC, allows more thorough evaluation of the documentation submitted by EMB staff as they are not under pressure by the presence of the project proponent or his representative who has travelled more than a 100km or so. Lastly, the electronic forms make the evaluation process more transparent, predictable, and consistent.

IV. Essential Elements for Success: 

Policy Framework: Enabling Policy, Regulation, Inter-agency/Multiparty Agreements

The Supreme Court of the Philippines clarified the coverage of the EIA system. Non-environmentally critical projects located in non-environmentally critical areas are exempted. As such the EIA guidelines were revised in August 2007 to reflect the Supreme Court Decision and streamline the implementation of the EIA system.

Human Resources and Skills

Personnel in the regional and central office were trained to retrieve and evaluate the submissions. If in doubt, the staff at the regional office could send an email and ask for assistance from the EIA central office personnel. The EIA central office staff may also refer the problem to the Director EMB for direction if clarifications on the submissions are required.

Material and Resources

A key component in the implementation is the availability of internet connection in the EMB regional offices, key municipalities and cities where most of the project proponents have their businesses. As the practice involves transmittal of scanned documents, internet dial up connection is often insufficient. For this reason, project proponents are given the option of sending the documentation through fax.

Institutional Support

The project was developed with financial support from the Asian Development Bank.

V. Further Information: 

References and Publications:

Presidential Decree 1586 (1978)
Supreme Court of the Philippines
EIA Guidelines of August 2007

Contact Persons and Address:

www.emb.gov.ph

Posting of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) in the Philippines

Date posted: 
Nov 13 2008

The aim of the practice is to provide transparency, consistency and predictability of the conditions imposed on the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

Responsible Party: 
Enforcement Agency
I. Objectives or Impact: 

The aim of the practice is to provide transparency, consistency and predictability of the conditions imposed on the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

Sector/subsector:

The sector covers environmentally critical projects and/or projects located in environmentally critical areas as defined by Presidential Decree No. 1586, 1978.

II. Description of the Good Practice (Outputs): 

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is primarily a planning tool. In the development and assessment of the EIA, mitigating measures beyond the requirements of existing environmental laws are identified and ideally, the project proponent agrees to implement those measures to reduce the project environmental impacts. As the project impacts are very site- and project-design specific, the conditions imposed on the ECC varies across projects.

The ECC conditions are also affected by the personal experience, background and perceptions of the evaluation committee. It is a common concern among project proponents however, that some projects carry more stringent conditions compared to similar project of larger scale or located in more environmentally critical areas. Some ECC have conditionality beyond the control of the project proponent or may sound inappropriate.

The practice involves the posting of the ECC in the Internet. This creates an awareness for the project proponent, and even for those preparing the EIA, on the main impacts of the project, the mitigating measures to address those impacts, the local environmental conditions affecting the selection of the mitigating measures and the selection of alternatives. An on-line posting also imposes discipline in the evaluation committee from placing conditions that are inappropriate. The evaluation committee is also be guided by precedence set by previous ECC of similar or comparable projects.

The posting of the ECC in the Internet will also allow NGOs to monitor more closely compliance of projects on ECC conditions. It also enables the following: (1) how the ECC conditions fare with past conditions set by ECC of similar projects, (2) analysis on the soundness of the evaluation process, and (3) the reason for non-inclusion. It also eliminates the proliferation of fake ECC, or projects covered by the EIA processes that are being executed without an ECC.

III. Outcomes or Results: 

Initial analysis showed large variations of the ECC conditions and in a number of instances confirmed project proponent’s concern of conditions beyond the capacity of the project proponent to address or just simply silly. As a result the ECC were posted in the intranet to provide internal comparison and upgrade the evaluation process.

IV. Essential Elements for Success: 

Policy Framework: Enabling Policy, Regulation, Inter-agency/Multiparty Agreements

The practice did not require any amendment to the existing EIA guidelines. It only requires an office memorandum for the ECC from all regions to be sent to the IT unit at the central office for posting.

Human Resources and Skills

The practice requires one to two hours per day of the IT personnel to post the ECC fax or sent by email from the regional offices.

Material and Resources

The practice requires a computer, server, fax machine and telephone lines.

Institutional Support

The practice requires strong leadership and support from top management of the organization otherwise the regions are hesitant to submit the ECC they have issued on time.

V. Further Information: 
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