In connection with the environmental impact assessment (EIA), a number of international standards and guidelines apply when conducting a study. This is to ensure that the studies carried out cover the topics that must and should be covered, and that there will be an overall evaluation.

There are also threshold limit values set for a number of impacts in these standards. Some of the standards are statutory to follow for larger projects, among other things, in the countries where EU legislation applies, and others will apply as soon as members of the World Bank Group participate in the project, if the local legislation does not impose higher requirements. This is to ensure that the impacts of the planned projects are known in advance and that we know how these impacts must be dealt with in order for the project to have the least possible burden on the surrounding environment. It is the construction client’s responsibility to ensure that these studies follow the standards.

There are five, partly overlapping standards that apply to the smelter project. Here are the guidelines for how to conduct the studies. The standards can also set indicative threshold limit values, which may be used provided that no stricter requirements apply locally.

Applicable standards and guidelines

1. The European Union’s ‘Guideline for the assessment of indirect and cumulative impacts and impact interactions’

These guidelines have been developed by the EU to ensure that projects also study the possible indirect impacts. The applicable guidelines are developed on the basis of legal requirements from the EU to carry out comprehensive EIA studies in connection with construction projects. The derived impacts are most often of a more complex character than the direct impacts and it can therefore also be harder to do an active intervention and that is why it is important to have them clarified in advance. This, of course, to be able to either anticipate and totally avoid them, or be prepared for them from the start and therefore treat them properly from the start. These guidelines are therefore an extension of an assessment of the direct impacts on the environment (EIA) and legislation regarding them, and therefore helps to ensure a more realistic picture of the impacts of a given project.

See the EU’s EIA Directive here

2. The Finnish Environment Ministry’s guideline for the assessment of the impact on the environment in the Arctic region

Guidelines for EIA in the Arctic are developed to clarify the impacts of projects built in the Arctic regions. Arctic EIA guidelines therefore take account of the special conditions such as permafrost and the sensitive flora and food chain. Guidelines for EIA in the Arctic region have been prepared in consultation between 8 Nordic and Arctic Governments via the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, and are adopted by these Governments as a guarantee for the quality of EIA studies developed in the Arctic. These guidelines are intended to ensure the development of a more realistic picture of the impacts on the environment in the Arctic region. Furthermore, these guidelines will ensure that the local population are properly involved. The local population in the Arctic is different from other local populations on many points, and by involving their knowledge about local conditions it ensures greater sustainability in the project.

See the guidelines for EIA in the Arctic here

3. The International Finance Corporation’s collection of performance standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8

A collection of standards and threshold limit values that ensure a sound basis for decision-making in the field of, among other things, social, environmental, health, the use and inclusion of rural areas, biodiversity and cultural heritage, to name a few. By applying these standards, it ensures a high level of sustainability for the entire project and all its aspects, internal as well as external.

The standards must be observed by and are prepared for members and clients of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

See the IFC’s Performance Standards here

The IFC is part of the World Bank (World Bank Group) and a capital that is used to finance private, development promoting projects all over the world.

4. The World Bank Group’s sourcebook for environmental assessment

The World Bank Group (WBG) Sourcebook is a book compiled in connection with a World Bank Directive (EA 4.01, October 1991), which describes the rules and guidelines for the environmental assessment process. The WBGS has been developed as a reference book for the person responsible for carrying out the EIA, as well as others involved in the process. The aim is to identify the options that are environmentally sound and sustainable for a given project, as well as to identify any environmental impact at an early stage in the project cycle.

The WBG’s sourcebook is unfortunately not available for free, but you can read more about the WBG here

The World Bank (World Bank Group - WBG) is not a bank in the normal sense of the meaning. The WBG, to which the World Bank also belongs, is an organisation owned by approximately 180 Member States, who work to reduce poverty on a global scale and support education and development the world over.

5. The IFC and WBG’s environmental, health and safety guidelines for the aluminium industry

Guidelines for how a smelter plant project is conducted under safe conditions. Here industry specific issues are taken into account. This ensures that it is handled appropriately in relation to the possible environmental, health and safety challenges that are specific to a smelter project. By applying these industry specific guidelines, you get a broader picture of the impacts and possible pitfalls of the project. Areas and topics that may not be included in the general guidelines will be identified with regard to, for example, the emissions that are specific to smelter plants.

See the IFC and WBG guidelines here

Regardless of whether the standards and guidelines are statutory, it is important for any project to follow them. This can ensure a sound and balanced project that provides increased certainty for a long operational life and good economic basis, and at the same time ensures the interests of the host country.