Regional workshop on Impact Assessment and the ASEAN Economic Community: A Way Forward for Regional Collaboration
May. 12, 2015 - May. 13, 2015
1. Workshop Summary
The Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE) in partnership with Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN), and other partners carried out a workshop for invited government and civil society representatives from 12 to 13 May 2015 at the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel in Vietnam. Approximately 65 participants attended from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, including: government staff from Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) departments and related ministries, such as the Ministry of Finance and Planning Commission; representatives of non-governmental and civil society organizations; international and regional EIA practitioners; and academics.
The objectives of the meeting were as follows:
Discuss and reach agreement on the establishment of the Regional Technical Working Group (RTWG) for EIA, with an initial emphasis on public participation;
Develop a Terms of Reference (TOR) and an overall road map for the RTWG to guide its implementation;
Formulate criteria and roles and responsibilities for RTWG membership;
Determine an action plan for the development of a regional EIA guideline as a first task of the RTWG.
During the workshop, participants were briefed on current practices and laws in the Mekong region pertaining to public participation in EIA processes. Presentations on the current legal framework for public participation in EIA were made by government representatives of each of the five participating countries. Participants were also informed of the findings of a comparative analysis of EIA in the Mekong region, in addition to the results of an online survey of EIA practitioners conducted by AECEN and MPE. The plenary was also briefed on best practices of public participation in the EIA process. The presentations provided context and inputs into the task of the proposed RTWG to formulate regional guidelines on public participation in EIA.
In addition to plenary presentations, the workshop featured breakout sessions in which the participants met in small groups to discuss and debate the scope and overarching goal of the RTWG. The groups were composed of a mix of government and civil society representatives from different countries. Each small group formulated and proposed options for the scope/goal and related objectives of the RTWG. Afterward, the plenary group reviewed and discussed all the proposals.
Further small group exercises were conducted to formulate suggestions for the tasks of the RTWG, the roles and responsibilities, membership qualifications, profile of potential expert advisors to the RTWG, and the next steps to officially establish the RTWG. Following each small group exercise, the results were presented to the plenary group for evaluation and discussion. Representatives of MPE led the plenary discussions and synthesized the participant’s ideas.
In the weeks ahead, MPE will finalize the TOR and request membership nominations from governments and applications for membership from civil society according to the criteria developed by the workshop participants. The aim is to fully operationalize the RTWG in advance of its first meeting in September 2015.