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University of Birzeit, Ramallah (2007)

The effectiveness of the environmental impact assessment system in Palestine

Abu Al-Quran, Ahmed H.

Titre : The effectiveness of the environmental impact assessment system in Palestine

Auteur : Abu Al-Quran, Ahmed H.

Université de soutenance : University of Birzeit, Ramallah, Palestine

Grade : Master Degree in Urban Planning and Design 2007

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process in which the environmental effects of development projects are studied so as to integrate the interest of the environment in the decision making process. An EIA system consists of the followed assessment procedure itself, the enabling and supporting legislations, the administrative arrangements and the institutional capabilities available within the country in terms of both technical and financial resources. Concerning the Palestinian EIA system, no comprehensive review have been undertaken before for the different system components and how they relate to the effectiveness of the EIA process in actual implementation. This research addresses the procedural, substantive and trans-active aspects of the effectiveness of the Palestinian EIA system through an analytical study of its various components and other external influential factors affecting its development and performance. It involves a study of relevant documentation, collection and analysis of data through questionnaires distributed among local environmental experts and developers (project owners and managers), and site visits to enterprises and industrial establishments. It benchmarks the current standing of the system in an analytical perspective and identifies shortfalls and potentials for improvements and up scaling performance. The main findings of the research have shown that the Palestinian EIA system has a secure legal basis that provides the required enabling framework for crucial aspects in the context of environmental impact assessment such as compliance monitoring and enforcement and retrospective implementation of the EIA. However, those same aspects were found to suffer from real weakness in actual implementation and achievement of their intended goals due to reasons that are mostly stemmed from the prevailing political conditions and their local internal consequences especially the loss of the overall law enforcement atmosphere. The research has also shown that the Palestinian EIA procedure itself does not have major shortfalls as pertaining to the adopted process stages and requirements and can satisfactorily cover the current pace of economic growth and development which is at severe recession. However, for the future guarantee of effectiveness and up scaling the performance of the EIA as a major environmental management tool especially when normal economic growth is recovered and a livable Palestinian State comes into existence, several improvement potentials are identified especially those emphasizing measures of objectivity, transparency and confidence in the process and its results as would be perceived by the different stakeholders and thus reflected in their involvement and interaction with the EIA process. Such measures mainly pertain to proper adoption and enactment of public participation and appeal sub-system. The research also identifies several EIA best practice and quality assurance support measures that are lacked. Those mainly relate to follow up support systems (at both the micro -project- and macro -EIA system- levels) and EIA focused technical capacity building. Availability of financial resources is a major requisite for implementing corrective actions in this regard. Finally, the research urges to utilize the increasing global awareness of the need to achieve progress on the EIA front in developing countries so that those achievements in the developed countries meet their global objectives of protecting the earth environment. This would be a continuation of previous international support that the Palestinian environmental system has received but under another context apart from that linked to political commitments under the frozen peace process


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