National Impact Assessment Programme (NIAP)
EIA has come a long way in Pakistan, after becoming a legal requirement under the Pakistan Environment Protection Ordinance (PEPO) 1983. Pakistan was among the first countries in the region to frame an environmental legislation in 1976–77, but due to the political situation in the country, it took another seven years before the first environmental ordinance was enacted, in 1983. Following the promulgation of PEPO’83, the Environmental Assessment Guidelines were prepared in 1986 to support the EIA process in the country. In the late eighties and early nineties EPAs, both federal and provincial, were established, along with other supporting infrastructure. This chronology indicates that Pakistan was well on its way to effectively establishing EIA systems in the country; but despite a robust start and all the hard work that followed, EIA had not been able to accomplish its full potential of incorporating environmental concerns into development planning. The ineffectiveness of EIA in Pakistan can be attributed to a variety of reasons including weak institutional capacity, lack of coordination among various organizations, a poor EIA review process, negligible public participation in EIA and ineffectiveness of Environmental Tribunals established under PEPA 97 due to lack of awareness.
Since EIA was already a legal requirement in Pakistan and various international agencies had agreed to improve its status in Pakistan, these factors provided a very conducive environment for the initiation of a nationwide programme like the National Impact Assessment Programme (NIAP) to support impact assessment. For NIAP the advantage was that the requisite legislation, infrastructure and institutions were already in place and functional. The need therefore was to strengthen them and streamline their implementation. NIAP aims to strengthen this already existing structure by improving the federal and provincial coordination mechanism by reviewing the existing EPA structures and improving it. NIAP also aims to review and strengthen the already existing Environmental Tribunals. An EIA mapping practice has already been carried out under the project to improve the overall EIA procedures in the country.
An essential value addition made by NIAP has been the introduction, for the first time in Pakistan, of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which aims at integrating environmental considerations into decision making and is applied during the development of policies, plans and programmes. SEA is a new approach for Pakistan and not yet a legal requirement, however it should also be seen in the context of sustainable development.
Programme Objectives, Goals and Scope
NIAP aims to improve and strengthen the process of Environmental Impact Assessment and to introduce Strategic Environmental Assessment in development planning initiatives taking place in the country.
The programme seeks to promote sustainable development in Pakistan by strengthening the EIA process and introducing SEA in development planning. Improved EIA will lead to more environmentally conscious development at the project level, while the introduction of SEA will facilitate improved planning, not only by the integration of potential impacts into plan development and decision-making, but also through improved coordination between the authorities involved in planning.
The project has been implemented at the national and provincial levels, as well as in Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. While federal government departments are key partners, they will implement the programme across the country through their respective provincial and regional offices.
The project achievements to date include:
- Assisting provinces in the formulation of the Provincial Environmental legislation. Balochistan Assembly passed the Act on January 13, 2013. The other provinces have done the spadework and the bill is in advanced stages of the approval process.
- Providing a forum to the federal and provincial institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Planning and Development Departments to discuss the opportunities and challenges resulting due to the passage of the 18th Amendment
- An extensive review of the implementation of Pakistan Environmental Protection Act of 1997 was held. This is the only and the most extensive review of PEPA 97 undertaken since its promulgation.
- An extensive review of the EIA curricula being taught in tertiary level academic institutions was undertaken to assess its effectiveness. Based on the review results, an outline was developed and later approved by the Higher Education Commission’s National Curriculum Revision Committee. Based on the outline, a detailed EIA curriculum has been developed for the approval and consideration of HEC and tertiary level academic institutions.
- A Pakistan specific EIA textbook is being developed for tertiary level academic institutions.
- Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir has volunteered its Hydro Power Plan for piloting SEA. The work on SEA has been initiated and is in advanced stages. Work on the preparation of Gilgit city’s master plan for piloting SEA has been initiated.
- A web based tracking system and database is being developed to track EIA process at the federal and provincial level.
Sponsors and Partners
The Programme was funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and implementing partners include: the Planning Commission of Pakistan, Environment Wing of the Climate Change Division, Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency; provincial EPAs, and IUCN Pakistan. The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment provided technical guidance to the Programme.
Project Manager NIAP
House No 2, Street 83, Sector G-6/4, Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel. +92 51 2271027-034; Fax +92 51 2271017