Sustainable El Dorado : appropriateness of environmental impact assessment in the state of Amazonas, Brazil
This thesis examines the appropriateness and effectiveness of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to help achieve more sustainable forms of development by mitigating the negative impacts of development in Amazonia. Initially, the appropriateness of EIA is tested as to its theoretical applicability to Amazonian enviromental issues. It is concluded that EIA is appropriate to mitigate the negative impacts of certain types of development in Amazonia. In the second part, the effectiveness of EIA is tested by determining whether EIA has contributed to improved environmental quality in the first years of its implementation in the state of Amazonas, Brazil. First, the policy, legal and institutional frameworks in Brazil and in Amazonas are discussed. Although policies are designed to promote sustainable development and environmental protection, it is determined that existing legislation restricts the application of EIA to only a few types of projects and institutions are not prepared to conduct the EIA process. Second, three case studies are analysed using an especially designed methodology. The three case studies concern oil production, the expansion of a hydroelectric plant in a mining complex and an oil palm plantation in an agricultural district. It is concluded that EIA is not effective in ensuring sound environmental management to the projects to which it is applied as it has no influence on project design and little influence on post-implementation environmental strategies. A number of constraints on the effectiveness of EIA as a tool and as a process are identified. It is also established, however, that EIA has a significant influence on the development of environmental management systems and structures. This reveals that the EIA process is open to change and actually evolving and that greater effectiveness can be achieved if the identified constraints are overcome. The thesis concludes with a number of recommendations as to how to overcome these constraints and therefore help to achieve sustainable development in Amazonia.