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World Bank Annual Meeting Policy Forum – October 10 th , 2013 E nvironmental and Social Assessment and Management: Strengthening all levels of the Integrated Framework Cumulative Impact Assessment: Making it work: challenges and options Emmanuel Boulet Principal Environment Specialist

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World Bank Annual Meeting Policy Forum – October 10 th , 2013

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World bank annual meeting policy forum october 10 th 2013

World Bank Annual Meeting Policy Forum – October 10th, 2013

Environmental and Social Assessment and Management:

Strengthening all levels of the Integrated Framework

Cumulative Impact Assessment:

Making it work: challenges and options

Emmanuel Boulet

Principal Environment Specialist

Inter-American Development Bank


Assessment methodologies are well established

Assessment methodologies are well established…

  • General consensus on needs and definition

    • Address “blind spots” of the project-focused ESIA process

    • Definition e.g. “changes to the environment that are caused by an action in combination with other past, present and future actions”(Hegmanet al.)

  • Methodologies exist and their value is proven

    • Identify the Valued Ecosystem Components (VECs)

    • Consult stakeholders on VECs and agree on key ones

    • Define the geographical and temporal scale

    • Build scenarios and assess impacts of each scenario on key VECs (VEC-centered perspective)

    • Identify impact and risks mitigation strategies following the mitigation hierarchy


But there are challenges to make it work in a project centered safeguards framework

…but there are challenges to make it work in a project-centered safeguards framework

  • Roles and responsibilities: attribution of impacts to a specific project is in effect impossible

  • General attribution methodology considers:

    • Comparison with/without the Project

    • Relative contribution of the Project to the resulting cumulative impact

  • Interdependence of effectiveness of mitigation strategies: considering each project in isolation leads to sub-optimal solutions.

  • Example: cascade hydropower:

    • With/without a specific project in the cascade generally does not make a lot of difference to the overall cumulative impact

    • Cumulative impact >> ∑(project impact): each project can have a small contribution to a resulting significant cumulative impact

    • Management dilemma: e.g. barrier effect on migratory fish.

  • Who owns and manages the resulting cumulative impact?


Attribution challenge chiriqui viejo river

Attribution challenge: Chiriqui Viejo River

  • Nine hydropower plants are being developed in cascade on the Chiriquí Viejo River, in western Panama.

  • The tailrace of each project -

    • in effect converting the river

    • in a succession of small

    • reservoirs and dewatered

    • stretches.

  • Consider cumulative impact

  • on the river with/without a

  • specific plant. For each plant.


What are the options or how to make it work

What are the options or how to make it work ?

  • Public Sector: appropriate regulatory and institutional framework in place, e.g. for hydropower cascade:

    • Planning tools at the river basin scale, e.g. watershed management plan,

    • Stakeholders representation, e.g. river basin committees

    • Authority which “owns” the cumulative impacts at river basin scale

    • Lessons learned: Sequencing is important. CIA recommendations are unlikely to be acted upon if the key elements of such framework don’t already exist.

    • Private Sector: best efforts to engage and contribute to a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach for the implementation of management actions that are beyond the capacity of an individual project proponent

    • Lessons learned: Requires a champion. Who is willing to own by default the cumulative impact issues ? Often difficult to implement in practice due to the attribution challenge and a “tragedy of the commons” situation.

  • Synergies public/private: “the Panel finds that this absence of complementarities between public and private sector development efforts is partially responsible for the observed flaws.” (Compliance Review Report of loan 2266/OC-PN “Pando-Monte Lirio Hydroelectric Power Plant Project).


Another outcome of cia process river offset for the reventazon hydropower project in costa rica

Another outcome of CIA process: river offset for the Reventazon Hydropower Project in Costa-Rica

  • A CIA process was carried out considering all existing and future developments in the Reventazon River basin

  • Conclusion of the CIA was that cumulative impacts on key VECs (fish, tourism, water quality, etc…) would be significant.

  • As a consequence of the CIA process, decision was taken in line with the mitigation hierarchy to develop and implement a river offset: e.g. commitment to leave a free flowing and healthy river system untouched recognizing that cumulative impact on the developed river system can’t be further mitigated.


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