At the request of a government authority, the NCEA can prepare an independent advice on the scope and quality of the information in Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) or Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
The NCEA does not prepare ESIA /SEA reports, nor does it advise on the decision to approve a project. The NCEA's role is to check if an ESIA/SEA offers a solid basis for public debate and political decision making. This can be done in the scoping, review and implementation/monitoring phases of the ESIA/SEA process. All advisory reports are published and available on the NCEA's website.
Types of advice
Depending on the request, the complexity and/or political sensitivity of the proposed investment our advisory reports may be prepared by:
- an NCEA technical secretary with or without a visit to the project site;
- a working group of experts with or without a visit to the project site.
Example of advice by a working group with site visit
In order to prepare an advice for complex and/or political sensitive project or programme, the NCEA puts together a tailor-made working group of experts:
- The chair of the working group is responsible for contacts with the competent authorities and for a well-balanced advice with sound scientific content and clear messages for decision makers. Chairs typically have significant (international) experience with complex decision-making processes.
- A technical secretary coordinates the activities of the working group and is responsible to draft the advice based upon expert input.
Both the chair and the technical secretary are permanent staff members of the NCEA secretariat.
- The experts of the working group cover the relevant fields of expertise for the project in question together . They are not NCEA employees. When appointed as a working group expert they act in a personal capacity, not on behalf of any organisation. To secure the independent position of the working group, the experts selected have no stake in the project.
In principle, the working group visits the country requesting the advice. The working group meets with relevant (representatives of) stakeholders who have an interest in the project. These stakeholders provide important project and site-specific information. Government staff responsible for ESIA and or SEA may collaborate with the NCEA working group. In this way, the preparation of the advisory report can be considered as an on-the-job training exercise.
Experience has shown that an advisory report can be finalised in six to eight weeks from the moment the formal request for advice is received. With optimal support from the requesting authority the NCEA is able to visit the country in the fourth or fifth week. The main findings of the draft advice are usually presented to the government before the NCEA leaves the country.