Setting Priorities for Environmental Management
Authors: Ayres, Wendy S.; Anderson, Kathleen; Hanrahan, David
Publication date: March 1998
Mining and industrial activities, if poorly managed, can damage the environment and leave behind contaminated materials which release pollutants for many years after the mines or enterprises have been shut down. Cleaning old mine and industrial sites is often extremely costly. Furthermore, cleaning up the sites may not result in appreciable improvements in human health or the environment. Given resource constraints, what decision rules should guide activities for remediation? Which sites should be addressed first? Which specific actions and investments are likely to provide the greatest benefits for the resources spent? This paper addresses the question of how to set priorities for environmental remediation. It offers a practical approach for selecting priority sites. And it provides a framework for choosing priority investments and activities for environmental management more broadly, if resources are not earmarked for remediation. The first part of the paper addresses setting priorities in the mining sector, and the second part addresses setting priorities for environmental management in general. While the paper focuses on Bolivian mining communities, its approach is applicable to a wide-range of problems and communities. Following the annexes is a workbook with detailed examples of how to calculate the benefits of potential investments and activities, and weigh these benefits against costs.