Ecuador

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EIA profile

Updated to: 27 June 2011

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EIA background

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Country contact on EIA

Ministry of Environment
Secretary of Environmental Quality and Department of  Planning
Address: Calle Madrid and Andalucia ex Conservatoria de música detrás de la Universidad  Politécnica Salesiana
Quito
Tel: (593) – 2 - 3987 600
www.ambiente.gob.ec

History of EIA

Major milestones:

  • 1994: Decree 1804 establishes EIA as an evaluation instrument before the execution of projects, activities or works;
  • 1996: Creation of the Ministry of Environment;
  • 1999: Environmental Law;
  • 2002: Consolidated text of the environmental legislation of EIA procedures of the Ministry of Environment.

 

Year of introduction of EIA legislation

1999

Legal framework for EIA

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Framework/Enabling law

Environmental Law
 

Year of introduction of enabling law

Environmental Law

Approving authority of enabling law

National Congress

Year of introduction of first national detailed regulation for EIA

Consolidated text of environmental management of the Ministry of the Environment (Texto Únificado de la legislación secundaria de manejo ambiental; TULSMA), published in official register No. 725 year 2002 Decree No. 3399.

  • Book I establishes the environmental authority
  • Book VI of environmental quality, title I describes the system of environmental management (Sistema Únificado de Manejo Ambiental; SUMA) that regulates the process of environmental impact assessment at national level.

The “Rules of implementation of social participation mechanisms” from 2008 (Decree Presidential No. 1014, Articles 9-22) establish social participation as a tool for knowledge, integration and the citizen initiative to strengthen the implementation of the process of environmental impact studies and reduce the margins of risk and environmental impact. 

The Ministerial Agreements No. 112 and 212 of 2008 establish citizen participation in the environmental licensing process approved by the Ministry of the Environment.

2002

Recent updates and additions to the EIA legislation

2004

Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA

Energy and Mining sector:

  • Mining Law of 2009 (Articles 78-91)
  • Environmental regulation of mining activities of 2009
  • Environmental regulation oil and gas activities of 2001
  • Environmental regulation for electrical activities

Agriculture sector:

  • Ministerial agreement on environmental poultry farm of 2009

Infrastructure sector:

  • Ministerial agreement on technical standards for environmental prevention and control of pollution for the infrastructure sector, of 2007

http://www.mineriaecuador.com/

Guidelines

Ministry of the Environment, Directorate of Environmental Quality through their Unit of Prevention of Pollution

  • Instructions for environmental impact assessment
  • Procedure for environmental licensing

National Council of Electrical (CONELEC):

  • Manual for environmental assessment procedures for electric energy sector activities

(http://www.ambiente.gob.ec/userfiles/6162/file/Subsistema%20EIA_MAE_Manual%20para%20usuarios.pdf) www.conelec.gov.ec

Objective of EIA

The EIA is a legal instrument to prevent or minimize environmental damage caused by public and/or private investments.

Scope of EIA application

EIA applies prior to the projects, activities or works that may cause significant adverse environmental impacts. Public, private and mixed investment projects are subject to the EIA.

Ley de Gestión Ambiental (codificación 2004-019)

Institutional setting for EIA

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Central EIA authority

The Ministry of Environment is the national environmental authority.

The Ministry of Environment may accredited other state agencies as Delegated Environmental Authorities (Autoridades Ambientales de Aplicación Responsable, AAAR) according to the unique system of environmental management (SUMA). The functions of the Delegated Environmental Authorities are regulated by a Ministerial Agreement.They can approve, reject or ask for modifications of the EIA, and approve or reject environmental licenses.

The Ministry of Environment manages a register and publishes on its website a list of bodies accredited to the SUMA.

Texto Unificado, libro VI de Calidad Ambiental Titulo 1. http://www.ambiente.gob.ec/contenido.php?cd=1528 list of Delegated Environmental Authorities (AAAR)

Other key (governmental) parties involved in EIA, and their roles

The National Electrification Council (CONELEC) is the Delegated Environmental Authority (AAAR) for the activities of the electricity sector (Ministerial Decision of 2005).

The Ministry of Natural Non Renewable Resources (MRNNR) is the ministry that regulates, promotes and develops policy for the mining and oil sector. The Ministry of Natural Non Renewable Resources coordinates with the Ministry of Environment in environmental matters.Environmental licenses for mining and oil and gas activities are awarded by the Ministry of the Environment. In 2009 the National Government issued the resolution (No. 1630) "Art, 1.- . transfer to the Ministry of the Environment, all competencies, authority, functions, and delegations related to environmental issues from the Department of Environmental Protection of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum; the National Department of Mining and Environmental Protection (DINAPAM) and the National Department of Environmental Protection of Hydrocarbons (DINAPAH)".

Resolution no. 1630 of 2009

(De)centralisation of EIA mandates

The provincial governments (that are accredited through the SUMA) have the authority to assess and approve studies of environmental impact assessments, environmental sheets, environmental management plans and environmental licenses.

Local municipalities of major cities such as Quito and Guayaquil are also accredited to the SUMA and function as Delegated Environmental Authorities.

EIA procedure

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Screening

Screening requirement and authority

Environmental sheets and draft ToR are revised by the Delegated Environmental Authority (Autoridad Ambiental de Aplicación Responsable, AAAR); the Ministry of Environment or another State Agency accredited to the SUMA. The authorities request additional information, approve or reject the sheets or draft ToR. 

Screening process

The proponent submits an application to the competent environmental authority in order to start the process of environmental licensing of the proposed activity. The proponent prepares a draft environmental sheet or in the case of possible significant negative environmental impacts the proponent directly prepares draft terms of reference. The competent environmental authority (the Ministry of the Environment or AAAR) reviews the draft.

Texto únificado, libro IV de la calidad ambiental art. 15

Provision for sensitive areas

The classification takes into account whether the proposed activity or work affects national protected areas. All activities, projects or works in the state protected areas, protective forests and forest heritage areas are subject to the preparation of environmental impact assessment, and must be processed by the Ministry of Environment. Protected areas are legalized and managed through the National System of Protected Areas (Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, SNAP).

Procedures for the Galapagos Islands are subject to the special law for the Galapagos Island region. The law dictates that "… all actions proposed for its implementation or execution in such jurisdiction shall be subject to environmental impact assessment process ".

Contents of the starting document

The minimum content of the starting document is:

  • Data of the proponent
  • A brief description of the project, activity or work
  • Location (important to note whether located within and/or influencing a protected area, protective forest, or forest heritage area)
  • Significance of environmental impacts (physical, biotic, landscape, cultural, social and economic)
  • Waste generation
  • Legislation
  • Level of social acceptability
  • Location in indigenous territories
  • Archaeological sites

The document has attached: the certification of land use granted by the municipality where the project located; as well as: identity document, legal document of the legal representative; and payment to the Banco Nacional de Fomento.

Timeline Screening

11-20 day

Scoping

Scoping requirement

Development of the scope of the EIA is required. The scope should cover all phases of the lifecycle of an activity or proposed project. The scope includes mechanisms to involve the criteria and observations of the actors in the area of influence.

For mining activities the Ministry of Environment established technical rules of the content, features, and minimum conditions of the terms of reference for the elaboration of environmental impact studies.

Texto Únificado, Libro VI titulo 1 Ministerial Agreement no. 011 of 2010

Scoping process

In the case the project, activity or work might generate negative environmental impacts, the proponent develops terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment. The terms of reference determine scope, focus, and the methods to be applied in carrying out the environmental impact assessment. The ToR are elaborated on the base of the characteristics of the activity or proposed project including the criteria obtained through citizen participation. The environmental authority reviews, and if necessary modifies, the draft terms of reference. After this the environmental authority approves of rejects the ToR.

Contents of the scoping document

Terms of reference document.

The content must include the following information:

  • Baseline data
  • Project with its location and description
  • Analysis of alternatives
  • Identification and evaluation of environmental impacts (physical, biotic, socio-cultural, economic and public health) for the phases of construction, operation and closure
  • Legal and institutional analysis
  • Description of the environmental management plan
  • Environmental monitoring plan
  • Description of technical equipment
  • Public participation mechanisms
Timeline scoping

21-30 days

Assessment and reporting

Assessment process

The proponent develops the EIA with a multidisciplinary team. In the baseline and evaluation the following issues are taken into account: physical, biological, landscape, cultural, social, economic and archaeological issues. The environmental management plan must be developed to minimize, mitigate and compensate for significant environmental impacts. The contingency plan is included. It is important to develop mechanisms to involve civil society in the area of influence.

The proponent submits a draft environmental impact assessment to the competent environmental authority and makes it available to the public. After this the process enters into the public participation process. The proponent organizes the public participation in coordination with the environmental authority.

General Environmental Law

Contents of the EIA report

An environmental impact study must contain at least the following:

  • Executive summary;
  • Base line study;
  • Description of legal framework and institutionalization;
  • Identification and evaluation of environmental impacts;
  • Description of project, activity or work;
  • Analysis of alternatives;
  • Assessment of risks;
  • Environmental management plan;
  • System of monitoring /tracking environmental;
  • List of professionals who participated in the drafting.

Texto Únificado Libro VI Título I

Review

Review process

If only an environmental sheet is required, the Delegated Environmental Authority (AAAR) reviews the environmental sheet. And if the environmental sheet is approved the environmental license will be issued.
 
Where an environmental impact assessment is required, the proponent presents the environmental impact assessment before the AAAR. The AAAR reviews the environmental impact assessment and reviews the compliance with the public participation. The AAAR reviews in coordination with the Environmental Authority for Coordination (Autoridad Ambiental de Aplicación de Coordinación, AAAC).  AAAC are the governmental authorities which are involved in the EIA process but are not accredited to take decisions.

In the process of reviewing the public may observe and comment on the draft of the environmental impact assessment.

Review expertise

In the process of reviewing the Environmental Authorities for Coordination (Autoridades Ambientales de Aplicación de Coordinación, AAAC) plays a role as advisor.

For projects, activities and works in state protected areas, forest heritage areas and protective forest the Department of Environmental Quality of the Ministry of Environment reviews and coordinates the assessment of environmental impacts with the Directorate of Biodiversity and Forestry Division of the Ministry of Environment. 

Decision-making

Integration of EIA into decision-making

The environmental license is a requirement prior to the execution of the project, activity or work involving environmental risk.

Competent authority

The Ministry of Environment, which is the National Environmental Authority and the Delegated Environmental Authority (AAAR) are the authorities to take the decision on the approval or rejection of environmental licenses.

In the case of activities, projects or works proposed by an AAAR the Ministry of Environment is the competent authority. In the event that the Ministry of Environment is the proponent of an activity, work or subject to environmental license the National Council for Sustainable Development determines the authority.

Decision justification

The competent environmental authority specifies the technical and legal considerations underlying the decision.

Decision publication

The ministerial resolution of environmental license approval is published.

Timeline decision-making

11-20 days

Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement

Compliance monitoring

The development of a follow-up plan to ensure compliance of the management plan and to provide information to analyze its effectiveness is mandatory. The competent environmental authority reviews the plan.

External monitoring

The monitoring plan should include internal and external control.

Non-compliance penalties

Suspension or cancellation of license.

EIA evaluation

The proponent prepares an environmental monitoring plan. The plan may involve several mechanisms:

  • Internal monitoring
  • External environmental control
  • Community surveillance
  • Environmental auditor
Payment system

Payments for issuing of environmental licenses to the competent environmental authority is regulated by the regulation of the Ministry of the Environment (TULAS, book IX on “the rights or rates for the services provided by the Ministry of Environment and the use and exploitation of domestic goods that are under his charge and protection”).

Payments are made to the bank account of the Ministry of Environment of the Banco Nacional de Fomento.

 

Public participation

Public participation requirements for EIA process stages

The minimum and mandatory citizen participation moments organized by the proponent (in coordination with the AAAR) are:

  • during the elaboration of the terms of reference and prior to its submission to the competent environmental authority (AAAR) for their review and approval;
  • prior to the presentation of the environmental impact study to the competent environmental authority (based in the draft EIA).

The Delegated Environmental Authority (AAAR) shall take into account the implementation mechanisms for citizen participation to be executed by the proponent.
 

Libro VI articulo 20

Access to information

Public access to information on the EIA is regulated by the general Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information (2004).

Information dissemination

The announcement for social participation mechanisms, and the announcement regarding the completion of the draft environmental impact assessment, will be published in several media with broad dissemination at local and national levels.

The draft must be available in the places where the public can consult them and on a website.

Information provided to the community must be appropriate according to the following criteria: easy to understand (in native tongue if applicable); and provide complete and accurate information.

Reglamento de Aplicación de Mecanismos de Participación Social publicado el Registro Oficial no. 332 of 2008 y Ministerial Agreement no. 112 of 2008

Timeline for public comments

31-60 days

Costs for public

not specified

Public comments

The public may make comments and/or provide feedback to the draft terms of reference and the draft of the environmental impact assessment. Comments may be in written form or digital (e-mail).

Legal recourse

Possibilities for appeal

Appeal is possible according to administrative procedures, filed with the District Court of the Administrative Court or the Constitutional Court.

Texto Únificado, libro VI http://www.aida-americas.org/es/node/1298

Decisions that can be appealed

The decision to approve or reject the environmental impact assessment and resolution of environmental license may be appealed.

Who can appeal
  • The proponent may appeal against the decision of the AAAR via administrative procedure or with the District Court.
  • Citizens or groups with concerns may appeal to the organization that is higher in hierarchy to the AAAR that took the decision on the environmental licensing. In addition there is the possibility to appeal to the Constitutional Court.
  • Civil organizations and legal personsality (verify)
  • The National Auditor may, at any time, audit implementation of procedures and approval of studies and environmental impact assessments by determining the validity and effectiveness thereof, in accordance with the Law and its special regulations. The National Auditor must also verify compliance of efficiency, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the plans of prevention, control and mitigation of negative impacts of projects, works or activities. It may also hire natural persons or private entities to perform auditing of environmental impact studies. (Environmental Law Art. No. 25)
     

Environmental Law

EIA practice

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Annual no. of EIAs

Some 150 to 200 environmental licenses are listed and published on the website of Ministry of Environment.

Central EIA database

There is a national register of sheets and environmental licenses administrated by the Ministry of Environment and published on its website. The environmental licenses issued by the AAAR are registered by the Accreditation Unit of the National Directorate of Environmental Pollution Prevention.

Practice reviews

2001 Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline 

2006 Complementary Dreging of Amaluza Reservoir

Accreditation of consultants

The Ministry of Environment has a central register of authorized entities that are accredited to conduct environmental studies.

EIA links

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Links to laws/regulation

The “Registro Oficial” is the official publication media of the State. It publishes all laws, decrees, agreements, resolutions and other normative acts issued by the agencies and entities of the State.

Judicial magazine; www.derechoecuador.com

The structure and administration of the State can be seen on; www.estade.org

The World Law Guide, Legislation Ecuador; http://www.lexadin.nl/wlg/legis/nofr/oeur/lxweecu.htm

Other relevant links on EIA

Environmental Law Center of Ecuador (Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental) www.ceda.org.ec,

Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (Observatorio Socio Ambiental)  www.flacso.org.ec