Strategic Environmental Assessment
The VCC and the Environment Law Clinic at Columbia Law School were awarded a grant from the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity at Columbia University to analyze the effectiveness of existing tools and policy frameworks for multi-stakeholder planning and strategic environmental assessments. While environmental impact assessments are typically required for individual mining projects, this overlooks competitive uses of land and water and the combined environmental impacts when there are many projects operating in a country or region. Many negative impacts of resource extraction can be avoided by planning along development corridors, rather than applying mitigation strategies in response to community grievances. The aims of this research are to propose how and when strategic environmental assessments can be integrated into planning processes in the pre-contracting phase and to support governments at the ministerial level in their implementation, looking at tools and institutional framework enabling participatory and cross-ministerial process. The preliminary findings of this research in the context of Uganda were presented in a conference on this topic in Maputo, Mozambique, in April 2012. The research is now continuing in the context of Sierra Leone, in partnership with Sierra Leone's Environmental Protection Agency.