Climate and biodiversity
Practical guidance and recommendations for integrating climate change and biodiversity into Environmental Impact Assesment / Strategic Environmental Assesment procedures
Client: European Commission / DG Environment,
Climate change and biodiversity loss are among the greatest environmental challenges the EU faces today. The reality of climate change and the need to take action has permeated the European political agendas in recent years, resulting in important legislative actions (for example the EU climate-energy legislation of 2009) and policy commitments (for example the White Paper on adapting to climate change).
Similarly, ambitious targets aimed at halting biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation across Europe are contained within the European Commission’s 2011 Biodiversity Strategy. Environmental assessment, at present, offers the only formalised process for considering climate change and biodiversity concerns in proposed plans, programmes and projects across the EU.
Environmental assessment includes Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of defined public and private projects and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of plans and programmes. Yet experience and evidence has shown that EIAs and SEAs carried out across the EU have so far struggled to effectively integrate climate change and biodiversity issues in practice.
In response to this, Milieu assisted DG Environment in preparing practical guidance and recommendations to foster greater integration of climate change and biodiversity into EIA and SEA procedures. The final output is a set of two guidance documents – one for EIA and one for SEA – to assist authorities, practitioners and stakeholders across the EU Member States to effectively consider climate change and biodiversity in the assessments.
The guidance documents provide background information on the issues, policy drivers and the complex linkages between climate change and biodiversity. They illustrate the importance of these issues in the assessments and provide evidence regarding the benefits. The guidance addresses key challenges, such as assessing cumulative effects and dealing with uncertainty and complex concepts including resilience and ecosystem services.
A number of tips, tools and resources are provided, including sources of information, assessment methodologies, and an overview of key climate change and biodiversity issues and impacts. The guidance is built upon a set of case studies which distil lessons learnt and practical experience from across the EU.
The guidance documents will be issued by the European Commission and distributed across the EU 27 in late 2011.