Subjectivity in the Logic of Zambia’s Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) Process: The Bedrock of Controversial EIA Approvals


Makweti Sishekanu
Environmental Law and Social Safeguards Specialist,
Zambia Institute of Environmental Management;
Part-Time Lecturer in Environmental Law,
Department of Education and Social Sciences Education,
University of Zambia.

Morgan Katati
CEO - Zambia Institute of Environmental Management
Lecturer in Climate Change Law and Policy,
University of Lusaka;
PhD Scholar in Climate Change and Energy Transitions,
University of Dundee.


In the recent past, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in Zambia has provoked controversy and conflicts of interests arising from a Ministerial approval of large scale open-pit mining operations in the Lower Zambezi National Park. This paper argues that such controversies and conflicts of interests are themselves quintessentially a symptomatic manifestation of the legal form, nature and character of the EIA rules. This paper is a critical analysis of the EIA process with the objective of demonstrating how the process is created around highly subjective regulatory culture bereft of objective scientific standards. The locus classicus of this paper is that the subjective approval process is itself a recipe for controversial and highly contested EIA approvals which turns EIAs into project authorization formalities rather than regulatory mechanisms for enforcing the precautionary and prevention principles in the spirit of environmental protection. This observation also highlights a stark distinction between EIA process and practice, i.e. the rules of procedure on paper and the actual EIA practices on the ground.


Believer’s perseverance, command-and-control, decentric regulation, environmental and social safeguards, subjectivity, syndrome.             Revue LEAD - ISSN 1746-5893