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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 4: Project Screening
may need to be represented by the project task force. Among the
key types of stakeholders are:
• Local communities in the immediate vicinity of the project;
• People and businesses in neighbouring areas that may be
affected indirectly due to technologies and products
associated with the project;
• Those affected by changes in availability of food or water
as a result of the project (e.g. If agricultural land or water
resources may be diverted);
• Those affected by changes in availability or accessibility of
ecosystem services that may result from the project;
• Those impacted by signifcant changes in availability or prices
for inputs and outputs that may result from the project
The identifcation should also clarify the importance of the
different groups, in terms of likely impacts on their livelihoods
and likely levels of infuence on the success of the project. Local
stakeholders and experts should be consulted to identify any
other obstacles to successful bioenergy development, such
as existing land conficts or competing claims over resources.
Challenges and problems identifed by local stakeholders may
lead to a re-evaluation of the project proposal, in some cases by
considering possible alternative project sites.
There may be special need to facilitate active engagement of
specifc stakeholder groups, in particular in the case of groups
that be illiterate or who may face cultural barriers to active
participation in decision-making or negotiation processes. Where
already in existence, the Bioenergy Task Force or its equivalent,
should be actively involved in the assessment and approval
process, in support of the relevant authorities that are legally
responsible to grant investment permits and licences. A critical
issue will often be the purchase or leasing of land, the various
conditions attached to project operations and any compensation
that is deemed appropriate. Relevant stakeholders—especially
those in the affected communities—should be engaged
throughout the assessment and approval process
<Mod6: People
and Processes>.
Before the relevant authorities issue permits and licences to
commence construction and operation, the Project Task Force in
consultation with the stakeholder groups should assess whether
stakeholder concerns have been addressed in the process,
whether trade-offs between different options and impacts have
been addressed in a transparent manner and whether in the case
of compensation agreements having been made, compensation
has actually been paid to those affected.
Medium to large-scale bioenergy projects and programmes will
inevitably have signifcant implications for local communities that
live in the vicinity of the project or are otherwise directly affected
by project operations. The affected communities can face diffcul-
ties in having their voice heard in decision-making processes.
Meaningful engagement of local communities is not only in the
interest of the affected communities; failure to engage communi-
ties can lead to real costs to project developers such as when
local opposition causes delays to project implementation or
damages the reputation of project developers (examples of
the types of risks mitigated are given in Box 2). But community
engagement is more than a means of reducing risks; it can help
in identifying, preventing and mitigating environmental and social
impacts that can threaten project viability, building upon local
communities’ unique understanding of the local environment and
social context. Furthermore, project proponents can enhance
their reputation by their adoption of practices of corporate social
responsibility (CSR).
There are further advantages to community engagement in
bioenergy projects, due to the fact that the success of bioenergy
projects often depends on location-specifc factors that may be
connected to local knowledge and experience:
• Local and indigenous knowledge can improve understanding
of cultivation and properties of particular plants and crops,
which may only be well-known in some regions and applica-
• Community knowledge that is incorporated into project
design and implementation can support the replication of
technology platforms and projects or programmes in different
areas, which is quite valuable for bioenergy, due to its smaller
scale and site-specifc properties;
• Since the community will be needed in implementation, their
involvement at the design stage will make them better-
• Communities are needed especially for improving the soft
infrastructure (education, health, social networks) that
supports the integration of the bioenergy project into the local
Community engagement is arguably more important for bioen-
ergy than for any other type of energy project—renewable or
non-renewable, since there are so many potential impacts on
livelihoods and social conditions. Project developers should
carefully review the guidelines on community engagement:
<Mod6-People and Processes>.
Impact Assessment
If the project proposal has passed an initial screening and is
of suffcient scale to warrant further analysis, a more detailed
assessment of project impacts—positive and negative—should
be carried out. The risks and opportunities that arise from these
impacts can then be evaluated, and mitigation actions can be
proposed as appropriate and feasible. Impacts of special concern
for bioenergy projects will generally fall under the following
• Food security: including impacts on the availability, access,
and/or utilisation of food;
• Environment and natural resources: impacts on ecosystem
health, biodiversity, forests, land and water resources;
• Climate impacts: can include both mitigation and adaptation
• Energy security: improvement and/or increase in delivery of
local energy services; and
• Socio-economic: impacts on employment, business develop-
ment, availability of services.
Some of these impacts, such as energy security, may be closely
tied to policy objectives or priorities that are likely to be included
in a bioenergy strategy
nd can be evaluated
in that context where a strategy exists. It is useful to separate
climate impacts from other environmental impacts, since many
projects will consider carbon fnance, may have some relation
to low-carbon development strategies and/or may have special
characteristics in relation to climate adaptation.
Most countries and/or regions have some type of legal require-
ment regarding Environmental and/or Social Impact Assess-