Challenges and Prospects for Integrating the Assessment of Health Impacts in the Licensing Process of Large Capital Project in Brazil

Document Type: Perspective

Authors

1 Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sérgio Arouca (Ensp), Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2 Institute of Global Health, University of Geneva, Genève, Switzerland

3 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

4 University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Abstract

Brazil was one of the first countries in Latin America to institutionalize a National Environmental Policy in 1981, including the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process of economic activities with anticipated impacts on the environment. Today, EIA practice in Brazil comes with a number of limitations: it is constrained by its environmental advocacy role; application is strongly oriented towards large capital projects; and social responsibility considerations are only partially included. Consequently, EIA studies mainly address issues connected to localised and direct environmental impacts, largely ignoring any socio-economic and health impacts. This perspective paper highlights limitations of current EIA practice in Brazil with a focus on health considerations in impact assessment. While recognizing the positive impact to municipalities where large capital projects are being developed and operated, adverse impacts on health are a reality with measurable evidence in Brazil. Therefore, we argue that specificities on how to systematically assess and monitor potential health impacts cannot remain invisible in the Brazilian legislation, as currently seen in the reformulation of the licensing process in the country. The process of better integrating the assessment of health impacts in the licensing process of large capital project in Brazil must, however, not be based on the imposition of an external model but should be promoted by internal stakeholders from the environmental and health sector, incorporating the experiences gained in various case studies from all over the country

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Main Subjects


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