A Guide to Best Practice
Chapter 1: Environmental impact assessment: introduction to a policy instrument manifesting sustainable development
It is generally understood that the first national EIA procedure established was the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA 1969, as amended) of the United States in 1969. Thereafter, the EIA procedure first spread to the commonwealth countries of Canada and Australia, and then to Europe and also to some developing countries (Gilpin 1995; Harrop and Nixon 1999). International banks like the World Bank or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) started to make EIA a pre-condition for any loan they gave (Bastmeijer and Koivurova 2008, part 3). At the moment, practically all states have their EIA systems in place (Yang and Percival 2009). Even the transboundary EIA, an extension of domestic EIA to foreign states and other actors has, in the words of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) become . . . a practice, which in recent years has gained so much acceptance among States that it may now be considered a requirement under general international law to undertake an environmental impact assessment where there is a risk that the proposed industrial activity may have a significant adverse impact in a transboundary context, in particular, on a shared resource. (Pulp Mills Case 2010, para. 204) This is no wonder since the EIA procedure is seen as one of the most important means of implementing the goal of sustainable development.