The contribution of capacities and context to EIA system performance and effectiveness in developing countries: towards a better understanding
EIA has the potential to contribute towards more sustainable development through well-informed decision-making. Evaluation studies conclude that this potential is utilised to a considerable extent in rich western democratic countries such as Canada and The Netherlands, but hardly in
developing countries. EIA capacity development programmes have not been able to structurally change this situation in developing countries, where there is lack of insight into the root causes of low EIA performance. There is growing evidence that context-specific characteristics such as the
political system and the capacities of the key stakeholders are insufficiently considered in evaluations of EIA system performance. Most evaluations focus primarily on procedural shortcomings. As a consequence, capacity development activities that arise from EIA system evaluations do not tackle
the underlying constraints. The aim of this article is to identify factors influencing EIA system performance in developing countries, and a conceptual model was developed to provide insight into those factors, building on a review of the current approaches and insights. A thorough assessment
of EIA system performance is considered a necessary first step before capacity development activities can be identified, aiming to develop EIA systems that utilise the potential for EIA in a country.