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Updated to: 16 February 2015Download as PDF
Country contact on EIA
ACEIE: Congolease Association for Environmental Impact Assessment
Telephone : (242) 551 26 79 / (242) 650 58 66
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
History of EIA
Environmental Impact Assessment is mandatory in Congo since June 1986 through Decree No 86/775 which describes Environmental Impact Assessment obligations and procedures. The Congolese constitution gives an important place to the environment because there are five articles citing provisions relating to environmental protection and health, in particular Articles 35, 36, 37, 38, and 63.
It is the 003/91 Law of 23 April 1991 on the protection of the environment that governs the overall framework for environmental management in the Congo. Its objectives are:
- Strengthening the existing legislation focusing on the protection and preservation of wildlife and flora, marine and river resources, the exploitation of dangerous, unhealthy or unfriendly facilities, planning and development;
- The management, maintenance, restoration and protection of natural, cultural and historical resources;
- The prevention and fight against the damage to the environment and health of people or their property.
It is this law that mandates in Article 2, the environmental impact study for any economic development project.
The Decree of 1986 has been repealed and replaced by the Decree n°2009-415 of 20th November 2009 now sets the scope, content and procedures of the study and instructions for environmental and social impact.
Year of introduction of EIA legislation
Legal framework for EIA
Year of introduction of enabling law
Law No 003/91 of 23 April 1991 on Environmental protection
Approving authority of enabling law
President of the Republic of Congo
Year of introduction of first national detailed regulation for EIA
Decree No 86/775 of 7/06/86 describes Environmental Impact Assessment obligations and procedures.
Approving authority of first national detailed regulation for EIA
The Decree was issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure and Environment (Ministère du Tourisme, des Loisirs et de l'Environnement). Currently, the ministry in charge of environment is the Ministry of Foresty Economy and Environment (Ministère de l'Economie Forestière et de l'Environnement).
Recent updates and additions to the EIA legislation
The specific decree on EIA obligations has been updated since its first version of 1986. The enabling law was promulgated 1991 and the decree n°2009-415 of 20th November 2009 now sets the scope, content and procedures of the study and instructions for environmental and social impact
Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA
Sectoral codes were developed in a legislative form for many fields (e.g. forest, water, electricity, mining and hydrocarbons)
Law No. 24-94 of 23 August 1994 Code regulates oil exploration activities, research and production of hydrocarbon resources on the extent of the territory.
Law No. 4-2005 of 11 April 2005 on the Mining Code regulate the exploration, research and production of solid mines on the extent of the territory.;
Decree No. 2007-274 of 31 May 2007 establishing the conditions for prospecting, exploration and exploitation of minerals and conditions for the exercise of administrative supervision;
Decree No. 2007-293 of 31 May 2007 fixing technical rules for the exploitation of the quarries and geomaterials.
Law No. 16-2000 of 20 November 2000 on the Forest Code;
Law No. 37-2008 of 28 November 2008 on wildlife and protected areas.
Law No. 10-2003 of 10 April 2003 on the Water Code;
Law No. 14-2003 of 10 April 2003 on the electrical code.
Law No. 9-2004 of 26 March 2004 on the domain of the State Code;
All these codes contain aspects related to the protection of the environment and advocate the EIA as a tool for the preservation of the environment.
Current enabling legislation for EIA
Law on Environmental protection No 003/91 of 1991
Current national detailed regulation for EIA
Guidelines are described in Decree n°2009-415.
Objective of EIA
Decree No. 2009/415 of 20 November 2009 fixing the scope, content and procedures of the environmental and social impact assessment says in Article 2 (definitions) that the environmental and social impact assessment and notice must allow (i) the proponent to plan, design and implement a project that minimizes negative environmental impacts and maximize the benefits of cost and efficiency; (ii) the authority to make an informed authorization decision; (iii) the public to better understand the project or program development and its impacts on the environment and populations.
Scope of EIA application
Decree No. 2009/415 of 20 November 2009 fixing the scope, content and procedures of the environmental and social impact assessment and notice provides that (public or private activities that may have direct or indirect significant impacts on the environment are subject to the advice of the Minister responsible for the environment Article 7).
Exemptions from EIA application
Article 7 of Decree No. 2009/415 provides that the category C of low-impact activities which are not subject to either a study nor an environmental impact notice includes:
- projects undertaken for domestic and craft purposes and do not touch sensitive areas or have no releases to the environment;
- projects that are implemented in response to an emergency declared by the national authorities and that shall necessarily be implemented.
Article 5 of 775/86
Institutional setting for EIA
Central EIA authority
The Ministry in charge of the Environment, oversees the activities related to environmental impact assessment in the Congo. Currently this is the Ministry of Forest Economy and Environment
Under the authority of the Ministry of Environment, the Directorate General of the Environment (DGE) is the governing body for environmental management in the Congo. DGE coordinates and supervises the work of the technical committee of validation of the environmental impact assessment and notice. It is also responsible for environmental and social monitoring, and enforcement of the measures recommended by the environmental management plan of each project in the enterprises.
Other key (governmental) parties involved in EIA, and their roles
Other ministries are authorized to identify violations in the EIA process.
Also, decentralized territorial authorities, the private sector, civil society are involved in the impact study process.
Mandate for exemption of EIA obligation
Article 7 of decree 2009/415 exempts projects of category C from EIA. It is not specified which authority decides on those exemptions.
(De)centralisation of EIA mandates
The Ministry of Forest Economy and the Environment (MFEE) is the only decision-making authority for environmental impact assessment and notice. The process is thus centralized. Aspirations to decentralize it have been announced through the Ministry though.
Aspirations of the Ministry of Forestry Economy and Environment report
Overview EIA procedure
Decree No 2009/415 classifies projects into three categories which have different requirements regarding the environmental and social assessment. On the basis of this, screening is done and it is determined whether an environmental and social impact assessment study, an environmental and social impact notice or no environmental and social impact assessment has to be conducted.
Title IV of Decree No. 2009/415 defines the procedure for the environmental and social impact assessment and notice in three chapters that relate to the stages of the EIA process:
- Chapter I makes provisions on the framing, implementation of EIA or environmental impact notice and public investigation. It determines that any project that is subjected to an environment and social impact assessment and notice should undergo a public inquiry organized by the developer. Thereafter the developer prepares the draft terms for the scoping of the study. The impact assessment and notice are carried out by a consulting firm, a non-governmental organization or an association approved by the Minister in charge of the environment (Article 21). The overall approach of the environmental impact assessment and notice should be based on fairness and efficiency.
- Chapter II focuses on the validation of the environmental impact assessment or notice, the public hearing of the public consultation and technical analysis. It provides that that the validation of a study or impact notice is subject to a written request by the proponent to the Minister in charge of the Environment (Article 26). The costs related to it are the responsibility of the proponent (Article 28). The validation process takes place in two phases. The first involves a public hearing or public consultation and the second one a technical analysis.
- Chapter III on the Environmental and socialmonitoring and control provides that monitoring the applicability of measures proposed in the environmental management plan rests with the administration responsible for the environment. It may, however, if necessary it could make use of independent expertise.
Article 7 of Decree No. 2009/415 classifies projects into three categories which have different requirements regarding the environmental and social assessment.
- High-impact activities which are subjected to an environmental impact assessement are classified as Category A;
- In Category B are medium impact activities, which are subject to an environmental impact notice;
- In Category C are activities with low impact, which are not subject to either an environmental impact assessment or an environmental impact notice.
A Ministerial order which should define subjected activities is still expected.
Screening requirement and authority
Screening is integral part of the EIA procedure. It is implicitly mentioned that the Ministry for the Environment is responsible for the screening decision.
Provision for sensitive areas
Article 4 of the decree 2009/415 provides that an environmental impact assessment and notice are also required for all activities located in sensitive or protected areas. However, no specific requirements are formulated for these areas.
Contents of the starting document
Under Article 37, the report of the environmental and social impact assessment or notice and the feasibility study of the project are available to the public for thirty days from the date of publication of the notice of Consultation in the media.
According to Decree 2009/415, scoping is has the purpose to identify the elements of the environment that may be affected by the project and for which a public, professional or legal concern arises. It also aims to ensure that the ways of informing and involving the public are clearly defined. The results of this exercise are provided to the proponent in the form of guidelines, on which the rest of the procedure is based.
The scoping process begins with a mandatory public inquiry after which the proponent develops terms of reference for the scoping of the environmental impact assessment or notice.
After this step, the proponent formulates a request to carry out the environmental impact assessment or notice to the Minister for the Environment together with a copy of the project. The Minister for the Environment has 10 days to react to the request and 5 days in case the proponent reminds him of the request after the first 10 days.
Articles 15 to 19 of Title IV of Decree 2009/415 are devoted to the scoping procedure.
Contents of the scoping document
The scoping document contains the terms of reference of the EIA prepared by the proponent. It is approved by the Ministry of the Environment in the presence of the representative of the Minister in charge of the concerned sector.
Assessment and reporting
Article 21 of the 2009/ 415 decree states that the environmental and social impact assessment and notice are carried out by a consulting firm, a non-governmental organization or an association accredited by the Minister for the Environment.
Contents of the EIA report
The Environmental Impact Assessment should include at least the following elements:
- An analysis of the initial state of the site and its socio-economic and human environment
- A detailed description of the project activities or investments considered and the reasons and the technical justification for the selection of the chosen site
- A prospective analysis of the likely impacts of the project on the site of implantation and immediate surroundings
- A comparative analysis of implementation options and technical reasons or justifications for the choice of the assumed best alternatives of the project or activity
- An indication of the environmental risks for a neighboring state resulting from the proposed activity;
- An indication of gaps in knowledge and uncertainties encountered in the compilation of the necessary information;
- A presentation of the environmental, social and health management plan;
- An estimate of the residual impacts considered after implementation of corrective measures;
- An estimate in economic terms of environmental costs for projects in categories A and B
- Mitigation measures regarding major projects that will include (i) a program of implementation and financial programming relating thereto (ii) an emergency plan and risk management
- A non-technical summary relating to the previous sections, for public information
The environmental impact notice must include a brief presentation of the following:
- A description of the state of the site and its surroundings;
- A description of the proposed activity;
- A description of features or elements of the project that have negative or positive impacts;
- A description of features or elements of the environment that may experience negative impacts;
- A determination of the nature and significance of impacts on the environment;
- A presentation of measures to eliminate, reduce, manage or compensate for adverse effects on the environment and the corresponding estimated costs
The validation of the report is to determine whether (i) the proponent has correctly applied the guidelines and benchmarks for the type of project under consideration (ii) the proposed measures to prevent and / or correct the expected adverse effects of the project on natural and human environment are sufficient and appropriate (Article 27)
After completion of the study, the report is submitted in 10 copies with a non-technical summary of no more than twenty pages to the Minister in charge of the environment acknowledges the receipt. The validation of the EIA is subject to a written request by the proponent to the Minister for the Environment.
The validation of the EIA report is conducted in two phases (Article 30): (i) The public hearing or public consultation and (ii) the Technical analysis
Article 30 says that public consultation is required for projects of category C but this seems to be confusing as it is said that projects of category C are not subject to either an environmental impact assessment or an environmental impact notice.
Public Hearing are required for the projects in categories A and B. The public hearing takes place after the report is deposited at the ministry of environment and it is carried out by an investigating commissioner. The hearing results in a memorandum which is an integral part of the validation file of the study.
The technical committee in charge of the technical analysis is convened 15 days after receipt of the memorandum of the public hearing. The decree n°001647/MDDEFE/CAB-DGE of the 25th May 2010 determines the composition, organization and functioning of that technical commission. The technical committee has at most three months from the date of filing of the environmental impact assessment and notice to examine the report. Methods and evaluation criteria for the technical analysis are not specified. If the report is accepted through the committee, it issues a technical opinion on the environmental feasibility of the project. This opinion must be approved by the Minister for the Environment within 7 days. In case the technical committee does not consider the EIA report to be acceptable, a justified notification is immediately sent to the proponent. If within three months the administration does not react on the EIA report, the proponent can run the project, but must comply with legal and regulatory provisions relating to the environment.
Integration of EIA into decision-making
A judgment on the feasibility of the undertaking seems to imply the decision regarding the approval of the EIA report. The EIA or the environmental impact notice reports are required for obtaining an environmental license.
The Minister in charge of environmental affairs (now the Ministry of Forestry Economy and the Environment) approves the EIA after having received recommendations by the technical committee.
Advice of the validation technical committee.
Article 42 stipulates that decisions on inadmissibility of the environmental and social impact assessment or notice study reports or requests for additional information must be justified.
The decision does not have to be made public according to legislation.
The minister has 7 days to decide.
Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement
According to the Decree No. 2009/415 of 20 November 2009 social and environmental monitoring has the purpose to verify the compliance with the recommendations of the Minister in charge of environment. It requests the establishment of a quarterly report which summarizes the results of environmental and social monitoring.
The monitoring is said to be under the responsibility of the administration in charge of the environment but it can if necessary make use of independent expertise to monitor the applicability of proposed measures (article 45)
A series of penalties are provided for in the Law on Environmental Protection (Title 13)
More specifically, the decree 2009/415 states that the non-realization of an environmental and social impact assessment or notice, even though it is required, results in the suspension of the activity (Article 48). Similarly, if damage occurs to the environment due to the absence of the study or non-compliance with environmental requirements this is the responsibility of its authors (Article 49 of Decree 2009).
According to the Decree No. 2009/415 social and environmental monitoring also aims to verify the effectiveness of the implementation of measures of the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP).
Proponent pays the full costs of the EIA report to the acknowledged agency or institution. The promoters is also responsible for the costs related to public involvement. The current practice requires project developers to pay the following amounts to allow for the Technical Committee report validation studies as set by Memorandum No. 2521:
Terms of reference:
Activities of Category A: 2.000.000 FCFA
Activities of Category B: 1.000.000 FCFA
Analysis of EIA reports and notices of environmental impacts:
Activities of Category A:
- Petroleum exploitation: 8.000.000 FCFA
- Non-petroleum extractive industries: 6.000.000 FCFA
- Chemical industries: 7.000.000 FCFA
- Other activities: 5.000.000 FCFA
Activities of Category B:
- Water conditioning and products, the establishment of factories, and the installation of thermal energy facilities: 3.000.000 FCFA
- Other activities: 2.000.000 FCFA
Public participation requirements for EIA process stages
Public participation is implemented during scoping in the form of a mandatory public inquiry, during the conduct of the study in the form of consultation meetings and during the review of the report by in the form of public hearings or public consultations.
Institut de l’énergie et de l’environnement de la Francophonie: Étude d’impact sur l’environnement d’une centrale thermique à Brazzaville,
au Congo (2006)
UN Economic Commission for Africa: Review of the Application of Environmental Impact Assessment in Selected African Countries (2005)
Public participation arrangements
The public hearing takes place after the submission of the report. It is facilitated by an investigating commissioner recognized by local judicial authorities. The ministerial order to establish the procedures for the recruitment of the commissioner is still awaited. The hearing results in a memorandum which is an integral part of the report file to be validated.
Upon receipt of the report, the Minister for the Environment informs the Local Authority of where the project will be located and of the opening of a public consultation. The notice of a public consultation shall contain (i) the relevant parts of the Decree of 2009, (i) a brief description of the project and the intended location, (iii) the organization and methods of consultation.
Public consultation is done under the watchful eye of a person appointed by the local authority. A report of consultation, in which the agent puts the collected comments and suggestions, is drawn within 5 days after the activities were finalized. The authority transmits the report to the Minister of the Environment within 5 days after this deadline.
Public participation guidance
The ministerial order which shall determine the scope and procedure of the public hearing is still awaited.
Costs for public
Not specified in legislation, but, the proponent is responsible for the costs related to public involvement.
Not specified in legislation.
Public comments in decision-making
The public hearing results in a memorandum which is part of the dossier of the environmental impact study or notice which is reviewed. Also a progress report of the public consultation is prepared.
Timeline for public comments
Under Article 37, the report of the environmental and social impact assessment or notice and the feasibility study of the project are available to the public for thirty days from the date of publication of the notice of Consultation in the media.
Access to information
The EIA is made available to the public for 30 days from the date of publication of the notice of consultation in the media. According to Article 52, the reports of the environmental and social impact assessment or notice can be consulted by any physical or legal person who expresses the need to do so.
Article 18 stipulates that during the scoping, the proponent shall notify the administrative authority and populations of the location of the project by all appropriate means that an environmental and social impact assessment or notice will be realized. The respective local authority shall inform the public of the opening of a pubic consultation by posting, written or audiovisual media (Article 33).
Possibilities for appeal
In principle, there are possibilities for appeal.
Decisions that can be appealed
Not specified in legislation, but theoretically any decision can be subject to appeal.
Who can appeal
Not explicitly specified, but theoretically, all persons/institutions can make an appeal.
Annual no. of EIAs
Central EIA database
No central EIA database exists. A joint project by ACEE and Ministry for the Environment Project regarding an EIA Information system is, however, considered.
- Very brief overview by UN Economic Commission for Africa (2005).
- Article on EIA practice for thermo electrical power plants (2006, in French).The former Francophone institute for Energy and Environment (IEPF) (now the Francophone institute for sustainable developement (IFDD)) has published a report on the EIA procedure on a thermal power plant in Brazzaville. The goal of this publication is to give insight into the EIA procedures and the project.
Accreditation of consultants
Order No. 835/MIME/DGE of 6 September 1999 sets out the conditions of accreditation for the realization of the environmental and social impact assessment and notice in the Republic of Congo.
Congolese Association for the Environmental Assessment (ACEE)
Non-governmental EIA guidance
L’Institut de l’énergie et de l’environnement de la Francophonie (IEPF) is a institute to promote the diffusion of good public participation in environmental decision making. A report has published on the EIA procedure on a thermal power plant in Brazzaville. The goal of this publication is to give insight into the EIA procedures and the project.
The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment runs the Support Program National Association for Environmental Assessment in Central Africa (PAANEEAC). This regional program, financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, supports the EIA-associations in 7 Central African countries, including Congo Brazzaville and contribute strongly to capacity development.