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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 4: Project Screening
ment. Depending on the nature and scale of the project, these
processes may need to be supplemented or complemented for
application to bioenergy projects or programmes. The level of
detail of analysis can vary, and beyond legal obligations it is up
to the Project Task Force—in consultation with the competent
authorities at local and national levels—to determine how much
time and how many resources to invest in carrying out more
detailed analysis. For large scale projects or programmes, a series
of detailed probing questions
<Mod8: Evaluating Impacts>
provide a framework for assessing impacts and possible mitiga-
tion measures. This assessment has to be carried out by technical
experts in the various felds, in cooperation with the project
leaders and stakeholders.
If an assessment of ecologically and/or environmentally sensitive
areas has been carried out—by the Bioenergy Task Force or
some other competent authority—a simple screening can show
whether the proposed project is located in a high risk zone. If
the project is located in the vicinity of a high risk area rather than
in it, an initial risk screening should be carried out to assess
whether project implementation would have signifcant negative
impacts on these areas, for instance by disrupting buffer zones
or ecological corridors, or by reducing water availability. If so, the
proponent should propose possible mitigation options to reduce
negative impacts.
If no existing map of high risk areas is available, the proponent
should be responsible for carrying out a rapid site evaluation,
under the scrutiny of the relevant national authorities. Such
an assessment should engage local stakeholders, who can
contribute local knowledge on biodiversity and other important
ecosystem services that would affect their livelihoods. A rapid
appraisal can draw on standard social impact assessment
techniques but will require careful local consultation (RSB, 2011).
Evaluating the impacts of a specifc bioenergy project on food
security is distinct from a broader analysis on the food security
impacts of expanding bioenergy nationally or regionally; there
are nevertheless some common aspects, particularly for large-
scale projects that require signifcant land or water resources
or those that could even induce price changes on other
commodities. Food security is generally measured in relation
to four sub-components: availability, access, utilisation and
stability. Project-level impacts could potentially link to all of these
sub-components through several channels:
1. Income effects: change in income levels for farmers and
other affected groups;
2. Price effects: changes in prices of other food crops or goods
that affect food prices;
3. Competition for inputs: including land, water, nutrients;
4. Land use prices/pressures: changing value for land;
5. Social/rural stability; and
6. Physical impacts on natural resources at the project site.
Whether the impacts are positive or negative almost always
depend on the reference group. Higher prices for food and
non-food crops as well as the value of the land itself are benefcial
for farmers, but result in dis-benefts for urban dwellers that
purchase food. Nor is competition among uses and resources
necessarily problematic, since competition can improve effciency,
such as in the use of water, fertilisers and other inputs. Comparing
costs and benefts is a political as well as a socio-economic
exercise in that some groups will have clear advantages or disad-
vantages. In the case of food security, one must also distinguish
rural landowners from landless rural residents, since the latter will
tend to receive fewer benefts from bioenergy expansion. Conse-
quently, although a transparent analysis of food security impacts
is important, it will also lead to disagreements among different
groups on the changes that occur due to bioenergy expansion;
managing those disagreements is therefore an important element
in community engagement
Energy security at the project and/or local level is quite different
from energy security at a national or regional level; local concerns
with energy security relate to obtaining suffcient support to meet
the demand for the energy service needs of households and
businesses. Bioenergy plays a rather special role in this respect
compared to other energy sources due to its fexibility in scale
and application and its continuous availability
Where off-grid electricity is a local priority, a proje
that will increase access to electricity therefore addresses energy
security directly. In other cases, there may be areas that would
beneft from increased fexibility in energy services for cooking or
transport. It is also important to note that increase in the quantity
of energy will not necessarily lead to improved energy security;
the energy or energy services also must be affordable, reliable,
accessible and available at the appropriate time and distribution
points (e.g. electricity may be most highly valued in the evenings).
Therefore, impact assessments need to consider such aspects—
affordability, reliability, accessibility and availability—in its evalua-
tion of local energy security.
Box 2: Project Risks Mitigated by Community Engagement
Source: Herz et al, 2007
Effective community engagement can help identify, prevent, mitigate, and manage a variety of project risks:
• Financing Risk: Financial institutions and investors may delay fnancing, require more conditions or decide not to participate.
• Construction Risk: The proponent may not be able to complete the project on time or budget.
• Operational Risk: The proponent may not be able to access necessary inputs, produce suffcient output or sell at a suffcient
price, which can disrupt operations.
• Reputational Risk: The project may harm the proponent’s or fnancial institutions’ brand identity, which can translate into loss of
market value.
• Credit/Corporate Risk: Delays or interruptions may reduce the proponent’s proftability and asset values, decreasing the
proponent’s stock value, lowering its credit rating, and raising the cost of borrowing.
• Host Government Risk: The host government may withdraw permits and licenses, commence enforcement actions, impose
civil or criminal penalties on the proponent, or tighten requirements.
• Host Country Political Risk: Political forces in the host country may threaten the project.