You are here: / Methods, Tools and Techniques / EIA techniques

Evaluation and Assessment Techniques

These techniques are an aid in analysing the effect proposed measures (alternative developments) have on aspects of the coastal system. Well established techniques exist for the following aspects:

  • quality of the natural environment
  • risk for natural disasters
  • economical efficiency

Quality of the natural environment

Techniques analysing effects with the focus on the quality of the natural environment are usually called: "environmental impact assessment" (EIA) techniques. Currently, the use of EIA is legislated in the EU since 1985. In that year, the EU enforced the EIA Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment for projects. In 2000 a similar Directive (Strategic Environmental Assessment, SIA) was adopted for plans, policies and programmes. These assessments ensure that significant environmental impacts are identified and assessed and taken into account in the decision making process to which the public can participate. The EU published three guidelines, corresponding to three stages of environmental assessments:

  • Screening: The process by which a decision is taken on whether or not EIA is required for a particular project.
  • Scoping: The process of identifying the content and extent of the environmental information to be submitted to the EIA authority.
  • Review: The process of establishing whether an EIS is adequate for the EIA authority to use it to inform the decision makers.

The UNEP published a useful report about how to to EIA in marine and coastal zones (Figure SCHEME, UNEP90). 
EA techniques exist for specific themes: the Carrying Capacity Assessment (CCA), Climate Impact Studies (CIS), Rapid Assessment of Coastal Communities (RACE).

Example: simplified flow chart for the EIA procedure

The flow chart shows how an EIA procedure could be implemented following UNEP90. It is based on a set of 13 guiding principles which define what an EIA should include which were endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1987 (click for a larger version):

Risk for natural disasters

Increasing developments in coastal zones lead to the fact that people, their properties, and the flora and fauna are exposed to increasing risks and vulnerability for natural disasters like flooding, landslides and tanker accidents. In the Mediterranean Basin, earthquakes are a major coastal risk. In many tropical regions, flooding caused by rivers or the sea is  a major problem. To reduce the risk for and impact of natural disasters, these risks must be assessed and managed. The standard Environmental Risk Management strategy will: 

  • Identify what can go wrong and prioritize the most serious hazards;
  • Consider how likely such events are to happen, how tolerable it will be if each does and how each might be avoided, reduced or controlled;
  • Implement the most appropriate policy option;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen risk mitigation.

A risk assessment should be standard part of the evaluation of ICZM projects. Read more on Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) in the CoastLearn module.

Economical efficiency

Many decisions are taken if the benefits are proven. Thus, it is logical to include studies in the evaluation of ICZM programmes who determine the economical efficiency of a proposal. A common difficulty in applying economical techniques to evaluate investments with nature values involved, is that the latter are difficult to express in terms of money. In addition, the relevant aspects of the coastal system are not always understood completely, and one easily neglects negative or positive effects  (costs or benefits) one activity has on another. Examples of techniques are:

  • cost/benefit analysis (CBA): An analysis in which the discounted benefits and costs are compared. The benefits of a development should exceed the costs before a go-ahead is given;
  • least cost analysis: A least cost analysis does not consider the benefits, either because they can not be determined, or when there are no significant different benefits among the alternatives. In this case, the decision is based on the discounted costs which should be as low as possible, of course.

This site is optimized for viewing with Internet Explorer 4 and higher