The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) is an independent expert body that provides advisory services and capacity development on environmental assessment.
In international cooperation, the NCEA operates under an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1993, with a special focus on countries eligible for Dutch International Cooperation. In addition, the NCEA also works in several other countries, under agreement with donors such as the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Dutch Embassies, the World Bank, European Union, etc. In international cooperation, the work of NCEA consists of the following activities:
- advice on Terms of Reference for and reviews of environmental assessments of plans, programmes and projects (EIA/SEA);
- capacity development of systems and institutions to improve the environmental assessment practice;
- knowledge and learning resources on environmental assessment;
- Dutch Sustainability Unit.
In the Netherlands the Commission has a legal status to act as an independent advisor since 1987, issuing non-binding advice to government agencies responsible for environmental assessments.
Core of our international work is to assist environment and sector ministries, environmental assessment professionals and non-governmental organisations to achieve better environmental assessment practice. In this way, the NCEA aims to contribute to sustainable development. This should result in a better environment, better governance and less poverty in the countries with which we cooperate.
The NCEA believes that effective EA is the outcome of an interlocking system where various actors play a role. The effectiveness of EA to steer projects, policies, programmes and plans in a more sustainable direction depends on the quality of all elements of the decision making and implementing systems at national and local levels: regulations, procedures and processes; authorities, experts, NGOs and media; compliance, enforcement and the judicial system.
The functioning of a EA system depends on capacities at individual and organization levels, on the capacity for interaction between organizations, and on 'enabling conditions' such as legislation and funding. The NCEA aims to develop the EA systems and engages in activities at various of these levels. It builds upon existing capacities and is aware of the importance of the specific context in a country. Together with its stakeholders the NCEA analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the EA system (e.g. by using EIA mapping) and identifies the capacities that can be enhanced given a certain time frame. Because strengthening capacity for effective EA system is a continuous learning process, the Commission intends to set up multi-annual programs.
The NCEA works demand driven. The NCEA consists of a secretariat of 12 staff members involved in international cooperation (out of 58 staff members in total). For advisory services, tailor-made working groups of experts are installed. For capacity development projects, external experts are called upon when necessary. In order to have quick access to experts, the secretariat manages a database containing several hundred experts.
Our core principles
We are independent and transparent. This means that we are not accountable in content to a governmental body or other funders and that our advisory reports are published on our website and thus freely accessible.