EIA stands for environmental impact assessment. This is a general term for studies conducted by governments and companies before they begin large projects. The studies examine what short- and long-term environmental effects the project will have on nearby ecosystems and people. Based on the results, governments may approve or ban projects and companies may make changes to their original ideas so that emissions, construction, storage or disposal activities are more environmentally friendly.

Strength: Boosts Efficiency of Project

EIA helps the overall efficiency of the project. The more in-depth an EIA is, the more likely it will spot long-term problems for the project, not only with sustainability but with waste in general. This often saves companies money, allowing them to change their plans rather than find out after the project has begun that one part of the plan causes too much pollution or wastes energy.

Strength: Versatile Application Range

EIA can be applied to nearly any major project. Although it is concentrated primarily on construction projects, it is a process that may be applied to any country and most developing nations use some type of EIA. The process has such general aims (define environmental impact and make decisions accordingly), that it is very versatile.

Strength: Improves Public Relations

EIA processes show that companies and governments care about their projects and the effect they will have on the environment. A plan that uses the EIA process properly will be better for it. Construction projects will be more appealing for those living nearby, and customers will appreciate the energy savings and environmental mindfulness the company shows, even if the EIA was required in the first place.

Weakness: Relies on Technical Inputs

One of the disadvantages of an EIA is that it relies heavily on technical data and examinations, from tests in the field to analysis programs that compare data and predict events. If this technical data is measured inaccurately, or if the EIA system does not have access to the proper tools, then it will not be effective.

Weakness: Costly Time Delays

EIA always means delays, for both government and company projects. This can be annoying for those planning the projects who have deadlines that must be filled. As a result, EIA projects are sometimes hurried along more than they should be.

Weakness: Requires Preparation and Follow-Up

Preparation and follow-up are both keys to a successful EIA. Preparation is needed to fully study the environment and note its unique characteristics, while follow-up is needed to make sure the EIA accurately noted any potential problems. Unfortunately, many countries skip one or both of these key steps.