Mozambique country programme

Uplifting the environmental governance system in Mozambique

The NCEA has worked in Mozambique for around 18 years. By supporting the ESIA and SEA system and the capacities of several ministries, the NCEA contributed to improved and more inclusive planning processes and better decision-making.

Results were achieved in:

Inclusive regional and landscape planning

Awareness and capacity on SEA

Improved ESIA-systems.


Inclusive regional planning in the lower Zambezi Valley

The Zambezi valley lies in the north of Mozambique, and is rich in natural resources and fertile soils. It also has a high biodiversity value. Pressures on land & water were rising with the development of the agricultural and mining sectors. These led to competing claims and conflict over these resources.

To support sustainable development in the area and to overcome these conflicts, the Ministry of Economy and Finance decided to develop an integral spatial territorial plan for the region including a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). It was the first time SEA was used in this type of planning process in Mozambique.

The role of the NCEA

The NCEA was fully involved in this planning process, which took around five years: from 2011 to 2016. The NCEA provided 10 independent advisory reports, with input from different expert-groups. These reports were sometimes critical, but were always well-received and led to improvement of the overall planning process.

The results

The final product, an integral territorial plan was generally acknowledged to have been developed in a transparent and consultative process. Although the plan is not (yet) approved by the National Assembly, it is already used in various ways on district and provincial level: it guides local plans and helps determine the best resettlement areas for cyclone-affected families. 

Several years later, partners and local authorities unanimously voiced their appreciation for the NCEA’s commitment to the planning process. They indicated the process would have looked very different, or maybe would never even have taken place, without NCEA involvement. The Ministry of Environment confirmed the utility of the final plan as a ‘good example and learning process’ for all. It was also indicated that the NCEA helped to stimulate ‘good strategic thinking’. It is also due to the inputs of the NCEA that the plan now contains monitoring plans and mitigation measures to reduce any impacts on communities and the environment.

During this process, several capacity development activities took place. This was for both public (civil servants) and private (consultants) stakeholders. Consultants indicated that skills acquired here, are also used in new assignments. This shows the spill-over effects: it may also lead to improved and more inclusive planning processes in the future.


Increased awareness and capacity on SEA

SEA was introduced to Mozambique in 2009, recognizing the increasingly complex nature of development impacts and the limited possibilities in the ESIA process to address these effectively. SEA complements ESIA, as it brings various stakeholders together around strategic-level decisions on plans, policies, or programmes, while ESIA focusses on individual projects.

The role of the NCEA

The NCEA provided a comprehensive set of SEA-related capacity building activities: there have been at least ten significant training events since 2009, often in collaboration with other partners, such as Swedish SIDA and WWF Mozambique. Collaboration made inputs timely, and likely increased its effectiveness. Besides learning through specific capacity building activities,

 capacities were also increased through advice on specific SEAs. This also improved these individual processes. Besides the above described SEA on the lower Zambezi valley, the NCEA has been involved in three other SEA processes with independent advice and coaching. The manner in which support was provided -demand driven, flexible and responding to change- was an important contributing factor.

The results

Currently, government officials of various sectors, the private sector and NGOs now have considerable awareness, knowledge and capacity in integrating SEA in planning processes. The recognition that SEA is a beneficial and important tool is increasing as well.

Although capacities on SEA are increased, there are no legal requirements yet for SEA, while this would be very useful: a formal link with decision-making supports enforcement of decisions and strengthens ownership. This is despite earlier efforts of the NCEA. Although things are moving slowly, there is still progress: The integration of SEA is still ongoing. The Ministry of Land and Environment has developed a roadmap for the finalization of SEA guidelines, and to further define the institutional and legal framework for SEA. The first results have been presented in April 2021.


Improved ESIA-systems

The role of the NCEA

The NCEA’s support to Mozambique on ESIA commenced in 1998, when ESIA was introduced in regulation. This included supporting complex individual ESIA processes, contributions on the regulatory framework and the establishment of a professional exchange platform. During three separate revision rounds, in 2004, 2008 and 2015, the NCEA has provided input into the legal regulations around ESIA.

The results

This input has increased transparency in decision-making and enhanced public participation. It also led to the decentralization of some responsibilities to the provinces. Next to these successes, not all of the NCEA suggestions have been taken up in regulatory texts. For example, together with other organizations such as WCS and BioFund, the NCEA advised to formalise the inclusion of independent experts for complex projects. The Ministry of Land and Environment, however, considered this to be too ambitious and not reflecting local reality.

The NCEA support has also played an important role in establishing and operationalizing the Mozambican Association for Impact Assessment (AMAIA). The NCEA supported this organization in its training initiatives, implemented training, and provided coaching to its staff. While the existence of this platform is an important step forward, challenges remain. Currently, the organization does not seem very active in facilitating knowledge exchange: due to insufficient budgets, the organization was not able to repeat some trainings, as was originally intended. AMAIA does maintain the ESIA consultant register, and revised legislation now allows the removal of ‘poor performers’ from this register.

At this moment, there is no doubt that ESIA is widely understood in Mozambique, also in sector ministries, and that generally, projects requiring ESIA are subject to one. The Ministry of Land and Environment is clearly the process leader in these.

Quotes from evaluations
Throughout the years, our work has been externally evaluated several times. These evaluations are very explicit in the results that were achieved in Mozambique:

“The NCEA supported activities in Mozambique over the last 15 years have made important contributions to improving the overall SEA and ESIA systems and processes”[1] It is also noted that ‘NCEA inputs have led to improvements in the Ministry’s approaches with respect to participation and inclusion’[2].

Also, the way in which results were achieved is very much appreciated, both by our partners and by the evaluators: ‘The support provided by the NCEA has been largely effective. It is unlikely that a different approach would have achieved a better result.’ [3]

“The nature of the NCEA support has been an important factor in achieving these outcomes”[4]

On NCEA’s support for individual ESIA processes, external evaluators have pointed out a positive impact on decision-making: ‘NCEA comments were useful and used whenever possible’ and ‘NCEA inputs have led to improvement in the Ministry’s approaches with respect to participation and inclusion’. [5]


[1] Impact evaluation of the NCEA’s activities in Mozambique, Van der Sluys (2020)
[2] Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), 2017. Final Evaluation of the MFANL supported Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) programme 2012-2017,
[3] Impact Evaluation, Van der Sluys (2020)
[4] Impact Evaluation, Van der Sluys (2020)
[5] Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), Final Evaluation.