Beranda > Lingkungan - Environmental, Tata Ruang - Spatial Planning > IS EIA A RELEVANT TOOL IN THE SOUTH EAST ASIAN CONTEXT?


Written by:

1 Tanuwidjaja, Gunawan

1 MSc. Environmental Management (NUS), S.T. (ITB)

Urban Planner & Researcher,

Green Impact Indonesia,

Integrated Urban, Drainage and Environmental Planning and Design Consultant



Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was fist developed in US between 1969 and 1971, under US National Environmental Policy Act. In 1972 EIA concept was accepted in UN Stockholm Conference. Further in 1974, UNAID published EIA Guidelines for Development Projects. In 1980’s many countries also accepted EIA and set up EIA legislation. Other international agencies that adopted EIA are UN-ESCAP, UNEP, World Bank, ADB, and OCED. This proves that EIA now is accepted worldwide.i

Several South East Asia countries have also enacted mandatory EIA. For example Philippines enacted it in 1978; Indonesia, and Malaysia in 1987; and Vietnam in 1993. But still Brunei, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, and Singapore have not enacted it in their legislation.ii

South East Asia Context

South East Asia (SE Asia) is a new economic emerging region with population of 522 million, and some of them live in poverty. This is the reason why most SE countries really need economic development. iii Now new industrial activities, urban settlements and transportations contribute enormous air, water and land pollution to SE Asia environment.iv

SE Asia actually comprises forest in 48 % of total land area. But population increase, urbanization, logging and agriculture have caused the deforestation of 1.8 % forest area per year (2.4 million hectares).

SE Asia currently deposits 50% the world’s biodiversity. And 30 per cent of world’s coral reefs also are located in SE Asia. But with high rate of deforestations; and coastal and marine degradation, resources depletion is seemed inevitable in the future.v With these conditions how can EIA can be implemented and reduce environmental impacts in SE Asia?

How EIA reduce SE Asia environmental problems

EIA purpose is actually to anticipate important possible effects of proposed activities on biophysical systems (water, soil, air, biological systems); man-made environment (settlement, infrastructures, etc); socio economic systems (including work, education, recreation, and health services); and cultural systems (beliefs, art, literature).vi So theoretically EIA can reduce SE Asia environmental impacts from present and future development if conducted correctly.

Important principles that should be addressed in EIA are: vii

  1. EIA should focus on the main issues of the project
  2. It needs trained professionals and experts to ensure quality of practices.
  3. It needs public participation in its process.
  4. It provides information and data to decision making process.
  5. Implementation of EIA in decision-making process holds the key to success to whole EIA process.
  6. Clear consideration of alternatives and mitigation in EIA is important.

EIA Methodologies

There are four groups of methodologies developed in EIA practices, which are: viii

  1. Task-oriented methodologies
  2. Component methodologies
  3. Integrated methodologies
  4. Adaptive methodologies

Task-oriented Methodologies

Task-oriented methodologies consist of impact identification, prediction, evaluation and communication. Recent literature presented this method is Pendse, Rao, and Sharma (1989) for water resource projects in developing countries.ix It reviews ad hoc methods, checklists, overlays, matrices, networks. These are basic methods of EIA.

Component Methodologies

Component methodologies are improved to identify essential phases on EIA not just impact identification. Two approaches that describe this are Glasson (1994); and Morris and Therivel (1995).

According to Glasson (1994) EIA in decision making framework should be done in steps such as:x

  1. Project Screening – is an EIA needed?
  2. Scoping – which impacts and issues to consider?
  3. Description of project/ development action
  4. Description of environmental baseline
  5. Identification of key impacts
  6. Prediction of Impacts
  7. Evaluation and assessment of significant impacts
  8. Identification of mitigating measures
  9. Presentation findings in an EIS (including a non-technical summary)
  10. Review of an EIS
  11. Decision Making
  12. Post-decision monitoring and auditing of predictions and mitigation measures
  13. Public consultation (along with Process number 1 to 11)

This process is also done iteratively according to results of analysis. Further the method is described in Diagram 1-1 Appendix 1.

Morris and Therivel (1995) suggest incorporating wide aspects in EIA practices. The aspects include social – economic impact; noise; landscape; archaeological and cultural assets; air and climate; soils and geology; water; terrestrial ecology; fresh water ecology; coastal ecology; and interactions between impacts.xi Even though not all aspects are significant, but still the certain project will cover part of these aspects.

For every components assessment, Morris and Therivel (1995) suggest to conduct these steps:xii

  1. Preliminary review to screen significant project and scope the impact that included.
  2. Selecting relevant parameter to be investigated.
  3. Collecting baseline data, from secondary sources; or field surveys and sampling.
  4. Analyse baseline survey.
  5. Describe proposed project and alternatives that are related to environment.
  6. Identify potential impacts including primary, secondary, and cumulative impacts in short, medium or long period.
  7. Propose mitigation measures to avoid or minimise the impact.
  8. Propose monitoring program during construction, operation, decommissioning.
  9. Cross check relationship between monitoring component.
  10. Carry out monitoring program.

These steps can be further described in Diagram 1-2.

Integrated Methodologies

Integrated methodologies are created to integrate many sectors and stages in the two previous methodologies. Two examples from this group are Mongkol (1982) and Sondheim (1978).

Mongkol (1982) suggest four steps, which are:

  1. Impact identification by three dimensional matrix, noting on the important impacts for mitigation measures
  2. Build use function value method to indicate the specific impact magnitudes to measures the environmental change
  3. Calculate benefit-cost ratio and later divided by environmental changes
  4. Compare the benefit-cost ratio between proposal, and the environmental changes, and decide to continue the project or not.

Although the there are many arguments on economic valuation of environment, still this technique means to quantify the benefit and cost from the project.xiii

On the other hand Sondheim (1978) suggests the comprehensive methods with panels of people, experts and non-specialists from affected community by the project. These panels will rate aspects of adjacent environment quality and alternatives from project description. These ratings further are going to be summarized to compare environmental impact. This approach seems to underline the human value. xiv

Adaptive Methodologies

Adaptive methodologies offer the solution to environmental problems with developing partnership between scientists, resource managers, decision-makers and policy-advisers. One example from this method is Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management (AEAM) which is improved by C.S. Holling (1978) xv; and Jones and Greig (1985). The main steps of AEAM after Jones and Greig (1985) further are presented in Table 1-1 below.

Table 1-1. Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management (AEAM) steps after Jones and Greig (1985) xvi

Main Steps Activities
Initial Organisation Set a core group with a project manager, some analysts, and subject specialists, that equipped with computer modelling, and discussions facilitating skill
Scoping Session The core group discusses the environmental problem and produces preliminary concept model. Later they identify the workshop participants including the senior decision-makers, managers, and disciplinary specialists.
First Workshop The core group develop a computer environmental simulation. After understanding the problems, workshop participants identify possible management actions and monitoring indicator.

Participants decide the spatial and temporal scope.

They also identify main subsystems in model and critical information flows between subsystems. Then next steps are to build the overall model and establish research programme

Research Programme Special teams investigate specific issues raised by the workshop and continue to model the environment
Second Workshop The core team produce the final version of the model based on research finding. Later model is used to analyse management policies using scenarios and gaming methods
Communication The result of modelling and policy are communicated to the public

The AEAM brings advantages such as the communications between managers and scientists, and awareness of managers to environmental problems, mitigation measures and monitoring plan. The limitations are on the longer time, big cost and limited expertise skill to conduct the process.

Advantage and Disadvantage of EIA Methodologies for SE Asia

The advantages of implementing EIA are very clear. EIA actually prevents unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, excessive pollutions, and natural degradation. While in social aspect, EIA offers the win-win situation for all stakeholders with the public consultation scheme. This is also one of the sustainable development criteria from Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.xvii

EIA informs decision-makers about future impacts from the development. This will give benefit to the projects by reducing time delays and additional costs from social conflict and environmental disasters.

Since EIA involves many experts and other stakeholders, it actually costs more than the traditional planning process. Sometimes EIA also causes time delays for verification findings and is considered not contributing to economic development. These are the disadvantage of EIA.

SE Asia countries really need practical tools to assess environmental impact. EIA sometimes is found too expensive, too difficult and taking to much time. EIA often are not conducted properly or not conducted at all, because the government projects often only have limited budget and time. That’s why SE Asia really needs less cost and simpler methodologies of EIA.

Further SE Asia countries also have difficulties to implement public participation properly. This is because the political regime that does not support democracy and bottom-up approach in planning and development. Public participations sometimes also are found not effective enough since low level of people education.

EIA Practices and Problems in the World and South East Asia

Generally three problems are concerned by experts in EIA worldwide practices. They are:

  1. Institutional arrangements problem;
  2. Low quality of EIA practices; and
  3. Lack of implementation of EIA in decision making process.

The first and second problems are recognized in the International Study of the Effectiveness of Environmental Assessment xviii ; and Environmental Impact Assessment in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Srilangka Reports by World Resources Institute in 1995.

While the third problem is described in Development Disasters Japanese-Funded Dam Projects in Asia, A publication of Rivers Watch East and Southeast Asia (RWESA), International Rivers Network (IRN) and Friends of the Earth Japan (FOEJ).

First most of the EIA institutional problems exist in the developing countries. It is related to under-funding, under-staffing government agencies and lack of political will to endorse EIA in all projects. Other institutional problem is not strict enforcement of EIA requirements because of corruptions and collusions. These cases had been found In Indonesia and Philippines.xix Further lack of public consultation happened since unsupportive political regime and low people education. Lastly less EIA information (legal and guidelines) is distributed because of too centralized EIA Authority.xx

Secondly low quality of EIA practices are caused by lack of EIA expertise in government agency, NGO or private sectors.xxi In developed countries, like UK these problems are also observed, since most stakeholders that involved in EIA process are moderately inexperienced. xxii

Thirdly the implementation of EIA mitigation measures in decision making seems a critical point of EIA practices. RWESA, IRN and FOEJ have reported the impacts from several large dams funded Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). One of the dams that built with EIA is San Roque Multipurpose Project.

The San Roque Multipurpose Projectxxiii

Project Description

Purpose : 345 MW power, irrigation of 87,000 hectares, flood control and water quality improvements.
Cost : $1.19 billion.
JBIC role : Provided $700 million in loans to the consortium and leveraged additional funds from private banks.
Ownership : 100% foreign-owned by the San Roque Power Corporation, consisting of Marubeni, Kansai Electric and Sithe Energies.
Number of People Affected : 4,400 people resettled, thousands more could be affected by sedimentation upstream of the dam.
Status : Construction complete, operational by March 2003.

The San Roque Multipurpose Project is one of JBIC projects in Philippines. The dam development relocated 4’400 people and affected thousand of indigenous people, the Ibaloi that live upstream. Since 1998 The Ibaloi had protested this project, but still the construction phase of the dam was continued expecting the dam to operate in March 2003.

The Ibaloi people conducted agriculture, fishing and small-scale gold panning in Agno River and its riparian area. The concern of Cordillera People’s Alliance is 20’000 residents of Itogon, Benguet will be affected by sediment in the dam similar to the effect of Ambuklao and Binga dams in 1950s.

JBIC and the San Roque Power Corporation stated that the resettlement plan would restore the standard of living Ibaloi people. But three years after resettlement, Ibaloi people were struggling without proper income. And from 180 families who resettled, 30 families have moved away because of lack job.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) of the Philippines actually facilitates indigenous peoples to free and prior informed consent for project developed in their heritage land. Ibaloi has raised their concern to all authorities, but failed. In 2001, the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs confirmed that project promoter did not obtain the free and prior informed consent of affected indigenous communities. Ibaloi communities intended to file a lawsuit stopping the project based on violation of IPRA and other laws.

One independent EIA reviewed the project and discovered that the capacity of the dam was only designed for 5-years small flood and it was not capable to irrigate area effectively. The research also found that no flood management plan had been presented to the public. Further it was found that National Power Corporation had to pay $10 million a month to the SRPC without any guarantee of water availability to generate power. And Philippine Government also had to pay $400 million in credit to JBIC to subsidize the project that will burden electricity consumers and taxpayers.xxiv

If EIA had conducted properly as mandated by Philippines Law, the JBIC would not face lawsuit. And the livelihood of Ibaloi people would not be affected severely. This project described the difficulties EIA implementation in SE Asia when facing to economic demand and personal interest of decision maker.

These lessons actually can show how EIA tool is not used properly even though the legislation, institutions and funding are available. It is obvious that some real action needed to improve EIA practices worldwide especially SE Asia.


Regarding institutional problem, I suggest to implement EIA in SE Asia with team of fewer experts. This is related to cost reduction of EIA procedures. These actually can be implemented in limited budget projects that exist in developing countries. Meanwhile for EIA Government Agencies I suggest to conduct capacity building training; reduce number of ineffective and corruptive officers; and improve the IT supports facility. I believe it will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and promote good governance.

Regarding low quality of EIA practices I also suggest Government Agencies, private sectors and NGO networks to conduct more capacity building training. With this the authority as well as EIA appraiser will develop better knowledge. Organization that already conducts these trainings actually is International Association for Impact Assessment.

While regarding the lack of implementation of EIA in decision making processes, I think the key to improvements are on the raising of political will and environment awareness decision-makers. I hope with environmental educations and change of political regime the implementation of EIA will be more comprehensive in SE Asia in future.

i Johnson C. Environment Management & Assessment Class Material

ii Ibid


iv Ibid

v Ibid

vi Morgan R.K. Environmental Impact Assessment, The Methodological Perspective, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1998 p.23

vii Ibid., p.30

and Johnson C. Environment Management & Assessment Class Material

viii Morgan R.K. Environmental Impact Assessment, The Methodological Perspective, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1998 pp.53-54

ix Pendse Y.D., Rao R.V., and Sharma P.K. Environmental Impact Assesment Methodologies; Shortcomings and Appropriateness for Water Resources Projects in Developing Countries. Water Resources Development, pp.252-258

x Glasson J., Therivel R., and Chadwick A. Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment, London 1994

xi Morris P., and Therivel R. Methods of Environmental Impact Assessment, The Natural and Built Environment Series 2, London 1995

xii Ibid., pp.4-7

xiii Mongkol P. “A Conceptual Development of Quantitative Environmental Impact Assessment Methodology for Decision-makers” in Journal of Environmental Management 1982

xiv Sondheim M.W. “A Comprehensive Methods for Assessing Environmental Impact” in Journal of Environmental Management. 1978 p.27-42

xv Holling C.S. (ed) Adaptive Environmental Assesment and Management. John Willey and Sons, New York 1978

xvi Jones M.L., and Greig L.A. “Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management; A New Approach to Environmental Impact Assessment.” in MacLaren V.W. and Whitney J.B.R. (eds) New Directions in Environmental Impact Assessment in Canada. Methuen,Toronto 1985 pp.21-42


xviii Morgan R.K. Environmental Impact Assessment, The Methodological Perspective, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1998 p.283

xix Smith D.B., and van der Wansem M., Strengthening EIA Capacity in Asia: Environmental Impact Assessment in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Srilangka. World Resources Institute 1995 p.13

xx Smith D.B., and van der Wansem M., Strengthening EIA Capacity in Asia: Environmental Impact Assessment in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Srilangka. World Resources Institute 1995 pp.14-17

xxi Ibid., p.17

xxii Morris P., and Therivel R. Methods of Environmental Impact Assessment, The Natural and Built Environment Series 2, London 1995 pp.4-7


xxiv Ibid.,

Dr. Peter Willing (1999) Technical Review of Flood Control Aspects of the San Roque EIA, available at

Dr. Wayne White (2000) A Review of the Power Purchase Agreement between NPC and SRPC, available at

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