EarthRights International (ERI), alongside its partners in the Mekong Legal Network (MLN), is working directly to build the capacity of communities, campaigners and lawyers to engage in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes in the Mekong region. Consequently, ERI and the MLN have collaborated to produce this original manual for EIA practitioners in the six Mekong countries which specifically targets government decision-makers, investors, lawyers and other professionals working on the implementation of EIA. The result is this unique practical guide for implementing EIA in the Mekong, which both ERI and the MLN are strategically placed to disseminate to relevant EIA stakeholders, especially project-affected communities across the region.
The Environmental Impact Assessment in the Mekong Region manual is the first time that anyone has sought to bring together in one volume an analysis of the EIA systems of each of the six Mekong countries, including the common themes and approaches. This was also the first project undertaken by the MLN, in collaboration with ERI. As a result, there was a lot of learning throughout the process of collaboration and collation from all involved. Whilst all of the members of the MLN are experienced lawyers, we found that there was a gap between law and practice. There was also the need to be able to communicate in a transboundary way, while acknowledging that different countries used different processes and with some different approaches to EIA.
The First Edition is the result of this period of collaboration. We have tried to ensure accuracy and completeness. However, we also recognise that there is always room for improvement. We welcome any comments, criticisms or complaints. Our aim is to provide the materials and continue the existing discussion on the value of EIA in the region and how EIA can be improved.
The work of the Mekong Partnership for the Environment, and the work of PACT, has been devoted to the role of EIA in achieving sustainable development. Through the work of PACT and many other practitioners and communities, the profile of EIA has been raised. Many discussions are occurring to improve the standard and value of EIA. In particular, the development of Regional Guidelines on Public Participation and the drafting of national guidelines on Public Participation in EIA for both Cambodia and Myanmar are all indicators of the importance of enhancing public participation in EIA.
This First Edition is aimed at practitioners, civil society, lawyers, EIA consultants and project proponents. We hope that, by understanding the legal obligations under national law, all stakeholders will work together to pursue constant improvement in the EIA process across the Mekong region.