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Updated to: 09 October 2013Download as PDF
Country contact on EIA
Mr. C.E. Nelom (Acting Director Environmental and Social Assessment)
Mr. Q. Tjon-Akon (Field officer Environmental and Social Assessment)
Mrs. Y. Babb-Echteld (Field officer Environmental and Social Assessment)
Mrs. M. Danoe-Alimoenadi (Field officer Environmental and Social Assessment)
NIMOS: Nationaal Instituut voor Milieu en Ontwikkeling in Suriname
(National Institute for Environment and Development in Surinam)
Tel. +597 520043
Fax. + 597 520042
History of EIA
EIA practice is relatively young in Suriname. Although EIA’s were conducted before the existence of NIMOS (1998) there was never an established EIA system as such. The EIA approach that NIMOS has introduced was drafted in the year 2001 and disseminated from 2003 onwards.
Legal framework for EIA
Year of introduction of enabling law
Besides an obligation to conduct an EIA for investments over US $ 40 million, EIA is not formally mandatory. This generic EIA obligation comes from the 1991 environmental agreement. The new Environment Act that is currently under development will establish a legal framework for EIA.
Year of introduction of first national detailed regulation for EIA
EIA regulation and procedures have been drafted, but not yet formalised.
Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA
None exist (check)
Five (voluntary) guidelines have been issued: a generic guideline on EIA (updated in 2009) and guidelines for EIA for Power Generation and Transmission, Social Impact, and one for EIA in Forestry and Mining. All were issued by NIMOS.
New versions of the guidelines became available in 2017 in English and Dutch.
Objective of EIA
The generic EA guidelines do not set a clear objective for EIA. The EIA guidelines for the forestry sector state that an environmental assessment may 'be undertaken to determine potential changes in environmental status arising from proposed activities, policies or other developments...or to simply establish the prevailing environmental status quo'.
Scope of EIA application
The generic EIA guidelines state that all activities which are likely to have adverse environmental impacts are subject to EIA, and that EIA applies to both public and private initiatives.
EIA guideline part I (2009)
Exemptions from EIA application
The EIA guidelines state that project proponents may apply for an exemption from EIA in cases where:
- immediate project implementation is required to address matters of health or safety, or to prevent environmental damage;
- for matters of national importance;
- if an EIA for the activity has been approved before, and the EIA has not changed considerably since then, and public debate has been adequate.
Environmental Assessment Guidelines; volume I; 2009.
Institutional setting for EIA
Central EIA authority
Within EIA practice, the National Institute for Environment and Development (NIMOS) has a central role. NIMOS was set up in 1988 as the executive and research arm of the National Council for the Environment (NRM), which provides the government with advice on the development of environmental policy and its implementation. When the Ministry for Labour, Technological Development and Environment was set up in 2000, NIMOS was given additional responsibility to advise on environmental management to this ministry, as well as to report on progress with implementation.
NIMOS has issued guidelines on EIA, advises on screening decisions for EIA, advices on the scope of EIAs, and reviews the EIA reports prepared.
Other key (governmental) parties involved in EIA, and their roles
NRM and NIMOS work in close cooperation with line ministries responsible for the approval of projects that affect the environment. The sector ministries are responsible for implementing the National Environmental Management Agreement (1991). There is an Inter-Ministerial Advisory Commission (IMAC) which can act as an co-ordinating body.
Mandate for exemption of EIA obligation
The EIA guideline states that NIMOS may exempt activities subject to EIA from the EIA obligation in certain cases.
(De)centralisation of EIA mandates
No specifications for decentralisation of EIA mandates have been made.
Overview EIA procedure
The EIA guidelines suggest the following steps of the EIA process:
- Screening: Includes the categorization of a project
- Scoping: Formulation of Terms of Reference
- Assessment process
- Review process: done by NIMOS
- Decision making: NIMOS gives recommendations for issuing of sectoral permit
- Compliance Monitoring
Important documents of the EIA process as suggested by the EIA guidelines are: Starting document (Screening), Terms of Reference (Scoping), EIA report, review report, response letter of NIMOS on licence application.
The proponent submits an application with general information on the project to the permitting agency, who sends the documents to NIMOS for an advice on the need for an EIA. NIMOS uses the screening guidelines (Annex 1 of the EIA guidance) and the screening list (Annex 2 of the EIA guidelines) to decide on screening. Annex 1 provides a screening process consisting of several steps and a checklist to identify impacts. The outcomes of screening is that the activity is categorised into one of the categories listed in Annex 2. These are :
- Category A activities are requested to submit a full EIA.
- Category B activities need to submit additional information. Three paths are distinguished that can be the outcome after screening of the additional information: 1) No further assessment is required; 2) an Environmental management plan, social impact assessment/ waste management plans/ EIA statement/ ecological impact study, etc are required; 3) a full EIA is required.
- Category C activities do not require EIA.
In case an EIA is needed (Category A or B), this is announced in the media. When an EIA is not requested for a Category B project, this is also published in the media. The pubic may appeal this decision.
Screening requirement and authority
The non-binding EIA guidelines provide for screening. NIMOS decides on the need for an EIA.
Environmental Assessment Guidelines; Volume I; generic, 2009.
Provision for sensitive areas
The screening checklist includes (under characteristics of the proposed area) a check on whether the project will affect any areas that are protected by legislation and/or have uniqueness natural features.
Annex 1 Environmental Assessment Guidelines, 2009.
Contents of the starting document
The information submitted with the application for a permit should contain:
- Name, address and contact point of the applicant;
- Location, site characteristics, design, size and duration of project;
- A non-technical explanation of the project, including purpose;
- Demonstration of need and justification;
- Detailed site plan, including a map;
- Possible impacts on the environment;
- Other information on request.
NIMOS takes 14 working days between submission of the starting document and the screening decision.
After NIMOS has decided that an EIA is needed, the proponent is required to publish an announcement stating the intent to undertake the project, according to the EIA guidelines. This may be accompanied with announcements of public consultations: where the public can make comments on issues that they would like to see addressed in the EIA. The proponent organises this consultation. In the scoping phase, the proponent also proposes a Terms of Reference (ToR) to NIMOS. Annex 6 of the EIA guidelines provide instructions for scoping (including a checklist). After assessing the ToR, NIMOS issues project specific guidelines for the content of the EIA report. NIMOS may consult other authorities in setting the guidelines.
The voluntary EIA guidelines give provisions for scoping.
EIA guidelines, 2009.
Contents of the scoping document
The ToR can be considered the scoping documents in this system. The EIA guidelines do not set out the content of the ToR, but do indicate which issues need to be considered when drawing up this ToR (in Annex 6 of the guideline).
Environmental Assessment Guidelines; volume I; generic, March 2005.
No timeline is specified for scoping.
Assessment and reporting
The EIA guidelines states that the EIA should cover both social and environmental effects. The guidelines do not prescribe a specific method for assessment. Review criteria for the EIA report, as given in the Annex 10 do provide some suggestions on how to decide if a method is appropriate.
Contents of the EIA report
The recommended structure for the EIA report is:
- executive summary;
- legal and institutional framework;
- project description;
- justification for the project;
- evaluation of project alternatives;
- description of the existing environment (baseline);
- environmental impacts(positive and negative);
- Environmental Management Plan;
- significance of residual impacts (after mitigation);
- public consultation (including a list of stakeholders, methodology for consultation, public concerns & responses to those concerns);
- Monitoring Plan;
- plan for decommissioning;
- project impact management summary management table;
Environmental Assessment Guidelines; volume I; Annex 9, 2009.
Annex 8 of the EIA guidelines describes the review process. NIMOS is responsible for undertaking EIA review. After receiving the EIA report from the proponent, NIMOS conducts a quick compliance check using a checklist and the project specific guidelines/ToR. NIMOS may request additional information.
Once the EIA report is considered complete, NIMOS uses a Technical Circulation Checklist to determine which governmental agencies should receive the report with an invitation to submit comments.
The executive summary of the EIA report is send to potentially affected people. The public (all) may comment on it.
For the more in-depth review, the review team that NIMOS sets up evaluates the EIA report against the checklist in Annex 10 (with an explanation in Annex 11) of the guidelines, and draws up a review report. The Review Report contains a project impact management summary table. This table compares the project action-potential impact-proposed mitigation measures-proposed monitoring plan and makes additional recommendations. The report conclusions includes:
- a description of compliance with legal requirements (or non-compliance);
- recommendations for approval or denial of the Sectoral Permit;
- proposed condition for the authorization, including the mitigation measures , the environmental management implementation plan and the monitoring plan.
Based on the review report, NIMOS drafts a response on the license application. This response letter of NIMOS should consolidate all technical review opinions.
As indicated in the guidelines, checks include consultation with relevant government staff and the composition of a multidisciplinary team to undertake the review. NIMOS can decide to contract external expertise to assist the team. In the course of the review, NIMOS may organize a closed meeting with other government officials to discuss conflicting opinions.
The timeline is not specified. In practice it varies, a review can take between 60 and 135 working days.
Integration of EIA into decision-making
The EIA guidelines state that before any permit will be issued, NIMOS will receive the application for the permit and will submit a binding advice to the licensing agency both on approval/rejection of the project and on any environmental conditions that should be attached to this decision (e.g. by a sector ministry). For projects that NIMOS considers to require an EIA, NIMOS will give advice on the project only after approval of the EIA. Any conditions NIMOS advises can then be based on the EIA outcomes.
EIA guidelines, 2009.
NIMOS approves the EIA report, while the licensing agency (e.g. sector ministry) is responsible for the license decision.
It is suggested in the guidelines that the review team also reports on the justification of the approval or denial of the project.
Publication of the decision is the responsibility of the permitting agency.
Not specified in the guidelines, responsibility of the permitting agency.
Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement
According to the EIA guidelines, monitoring of environmental conditions is a requirement. The proponent submits a monitoring plan and environmental management plan with the EIA report. Annex 12 of the EIA guidelines gives instructions for developing an environmental management plan. The guidelines state that the proponent is obliged to implement the proposed plan. The proponent also needs to conduct mandatory monitoring if it is required as an outcome of the EIA.
According to the guidelines, NIMOS and the permitting agency review the monitoring results and post-decision evaluation every year, taking into account the implementation of the Environmental Management Plan. On the basis of the monitoring results, the permitting agency and NIMOS may require additional mitigation measures and/or requirements to the permit.
Environmental Assessment Guidelines; volume I; generic, March 2005.
No information is given on penalties.
The EIA guidelines do not mention EIA evaluation with the purpose of improving future EIA practice.
The payment of a fee for processing the EIA is not yet a mandatory aspect of the EIA system.
Public participation requirements for EIA process stages
The EIA guidelines set out requirements for public participation. Its importance during the scoping and review phases is highlighted.
Public participation arrangements
The requirements for public participation as stated in the EIA guidelines include dissemination of information and the organisation of a public hearing. The guidelines further suggest that NIMOS take a facilitating role, in receiving public comments and ensuring the proponent addresses these.
Public participation guidance
Costs for public
There are no specifications set out in the EIA guideline for this aspect.
The public may make comments, both verbally and in writing, regarding issues to be addressed in the EIA when the screening decision is published, and may later comment on the conclusions from the EIA report.
EIA guidelines 2009
Timeline for public comments
Access to information
Disclosure of information is limited to the executive summary of the EIA report, which is sent to the affected people and made available at a location easily accessible to the public.
The guidelines suggest that information on the project's impacts and mitigation measures be broadcast in the media, through radio, newspapers and television.
EIA guidelines 2009
Possibilities for appeal
There are possibilities for appeal within the EIA process, as set out in Annex 5 of the EIA guidelines. Appeal must be made within 30 days of decision-making and is directed to the Minister for Environment. A hearing will be held on the appeal. The National Environmental Council advises to the minister on the appeal decision. The decisions is provided within 30 days.
Decisions that can be appealed
The public may appeal the screening decision or it may appeal the final EIA review decision.
Who can appeal
Anyone can make an appeal: government agencies, the proponent and the public.
EIA guidelines, Annex 5, 2009
Annual no. of EIAs
The number of EIAs has been growing steadily in the last years. In 2009, 14 EIAs were reviewed by NIMOS. Exact data on the numer of EIAs are not available, as EIA is still a voluntary process and NIMOS does not necessarily receive all EIAs prepared.
Central EIA database
There is no central EIA database, but NIMOS does keep records on all the EIAs that it advises on.
The Surinam Country Environmental Assessment published by the Inter-American Development Bank in 2005 contains an overview of the EIA system and reference to several EIA cases.
Surinam Country Environmental Assessment, final report, August 2005, IADB.
Accreditation of consultants
There is no accreditation system for consultants who deliver services in EIA report preparation.
There are no professional bodies specifically for impact assessment in Surinam.
Other relevant links on EIA
Website of NIMOS