In this paper, we aim to better understand the factors that contribute to the substantive performance of EIA systems in low and middle income countries. Substantive performance is defined as the extent to which the EIA process contributes to the EIA objectives for the long term, namely environmental protection or, even more ambitious, sustainable development. We have therefore developed a conceptual model in which we focus on the key actors in the EIA system, the proponent and the EIA authority and their level of ownership as a key capacity to measure their performance, and we distinguish procedural performance and some contextual factors. This conceptual model is then verified and refined for the EIA phase and the EIA follow-up phase (permitting, monitoring and enforcement) by means of 12 case studies from Ghana (four cases) and Georgia (eight cases), both lower-middle income countries. We observe that in most cases the level of substantive performance increases during the EIA phase but drops during the EIA follow-up phase, and as a result only five out of 12 operational cases are in compliance with permit conditions or national environmental standards. We conclude, firstly that ownership of the proponent is the most important factor explaining the level of substantive performance; the higher the proponent's level of ownership the higher the level of substantive performance. The influence of the EIA authority on substantive performance is limited. Secondly, the influence of procedural performance on substantive performance seems less important than expected in the EIA phase but more important during the EIA follow-up phase.In order to improve substantive performance we learned two lessons. Firstly, increasing the proponent's level of ownership seems obvious, but direct change is probably difficult. However, where international finance institutes are involved they can increase ownership. Despite the limited influence of the EIA authority, a proactive strategy of, for example, working together with international finance institutes has a slightly larger influence than a reactive strategy.
- EIA performance