The Development of the Environmental Impact Assessment Process in Botswana

The Development of the Environmental Impact Assessment Process in Botswana

Eagilwe M. Segosebe (University of Botswana, Botswana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0441-3.ch002
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The desire to protect the natural environment and the resources it hosts is at the core of every country's ambition to achieve long-term sustainable development. Yet, the history of development shows that environmental protection always came about as an after the fact activity. Nations around the world, including the industrial countries, most of the time reacted to adverse impacts of the environment rather than acting proactively to prevent undesirable outcomes of development. The 1970s decade is seen as a watermark in the development of legislation aimed at protecting the environment particularly in the developed world. This development and requirement to have projects subjected to environmental impact assessments spread to developing countries like Botswana in the 1980s. Botswana embraced the ideal to protect the environment to achieve sustainable development. Toward this end, the government of Botswana carried out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on major projects voluntarily, even before the passing of the maiden EIA Act of 2005 and its supplement of 2011 and accompanying guidelines in 2012. After this and particularly in the 1990s, Botswana rigorously pursued its position on the international terrain where the country signed and ratified some international conventions and protocols. This chapter concludes by suggesting that the next area of focus for Botswana is on monitoring the outcomes of projects for which EIAs have been conducted.
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This chapter begins by suggesting that environmental destruction is often inadvertent and that only in rare cases do people’s activity seem to harm environmental resources deliberately as in the case of hunting. Then a global picture of the state of the environment is reviewed followed by a brief explanation of what Environmental Impact Assessment entails. Following on this a narration of how Africa was introduced to the new concept of environmental management is addressed. Then a brief on how the development of environmental impact assessment came about in Botswana is narrated, as well as the extent to which environmental concerns were considered in National Development Plans after independence. It is demonstrated that government concerns about environmental impact dates back to the period prior to the attainment of independence as shown by some of the Legislation that dates back as early as 1961. Notwithstanding the existence of legislation related to environmental impact, evidence on the ground showed growing concern by government about the ever-increasing pressure on natural resources due to increase in human population. Adverse environmental consequences drove government to motivate for the formulation and adoption of the National Conservation Strategy of 1992, as well as the enactment of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act of 2005 and a revised Act of 2011 with associated regulations to ensure an effective application of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure. What is of interest as suggested later is that government implemented EIA on some projects even before the EIA Act was enacted and adopted e.g. the Metsimotlhabe Water Transfer Scheme.

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