Summary of the Workshop To strengthen meaningful stakeholder engagement and public participation in EIA processes, the Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE) partnered with Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) to convene a regional workshop on “Environmental Impact Assessment Policy and Practice in the Mekong Region.” Forty-nine experts from across the region met from 1 to 3 December 2014 at the InterContinental Hotel in Bangkok. Participants included stakeholders and practitioners representing government EIA agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The event was jointly organized by Pact, the lead implementing partner for MPE, and AECEN, which is hosted at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) also supported the meeting. The workshop was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is the primary donor for MPE. The EIA practitioners from government and civil society discussed EIA policy and practice as a tool for advancing sustainable development. The event provided opportunities to learn, discuss, and exchange ideas for improving EIA policy and practices in the Mekong region. Session topics included:
- EIA laws and policies in Mekong countries
- Public participation and stakeholder engagement
- Roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in the EIA process
- Key gaps to be addressed to improve EIA implementation
- Regional opportunities in the context of ongoing EIA reform processes to strengthen EIA policy and practice
Overall, the event was well received by participants and resulted in a number of recommendations to guide the further work of organizers and participants. The workshop provided an important opportunity for government and civil society to work together on identifying obstacles and potential solutions. MPE and AECEN expect the ideas generated – and the relationships developed – to bring strong momentum to work on improving EIA policy and practice in the Mekong region. Follow-up events and initiatives are forthcoming.