For most developers, EIAs are typical government schemes to collect revenue and frustrate investors. But if properly executed, an environmental impact assessment presents huge benefits to your hotel. How? Let’s explore.
The attainment of an eco-friendly hotel depends on a carefully thought out framework called sustainable development.
Section 58 of Kenya’s Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA, 2015) subjects every developer to a study that explores negative outcomes their projects could pose to the natural environment and society in the course of construction, operation and closure. This study is called an Environmental Impact Assessment.
EMCA gives the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) the power to recruit qualified consultants to undertake these studies and advise the State on appropriate regulatory measures.
Hotel developments cost a fortune and often require a long time to recoup returns. Kenyan hoteliers must be sure that the land they wish to develop is truly theirs and appropriate for the intended use.
The Consultant must ascertain 1) ownership, 2) capacity of the supporting environment and 3) risks it could pose to the development. How does an EIA accomplish this?
Because the Consultant’s fee is pegged on the project cost, s/he must verify the truthfulness of the title deed or lease, cost of land and in instances, the circumstances around the sale.
A great hotel offers great sites. An EIA considers the impacts of consuming or introducing such great sites on ecosystems and society.
Lastly, on tenure, the Consultant helps the client to discover environmental risks prone to the area that might jeopardize the proposed project. Is the site prone to earthquakes?
Public participation is a principle of environmental governance under EIA. It is a forum for justifying how and why communities will benefit from your project same way you plan to benefit from theirs. The best way is to have an initial information sharing/gathering exercise and a validation workshop. Sadly, this clause has been reduced to a search for falsified signatures.
Anyway, because you are keen to secure a social license to operate in this space, here are reasons why PP could benefit your hotel
- Understand the history of the site – communities have lived here for millennia, you may want to know how things have evolved
- Confirm tenure – they know the real owner(s) of the land
- Locally available labor and raw-materials
- Penetrate local politics
- Security – they could ward off wildlife and looters
- New market – they could be consumers, distributors or marketers of your products
- Effective CSR – they could guide you best on how to enhance their community
What if findings are bad, is that it? I don’t think so.
EIA is a decision-making tool. It simply states that, “Were licence and return on investment to allow, you should try out more innovations, wider dialogue with communities, landscaping and rehabilitation plans… until your hotel blends in with nature.
Finally, the EIA offers you an environmental management plan (EMP) to embed all these improvements into your management and administrative process. It outlines the actions, financial allocations, timelines and management responsibilities and makes them part of your organizational policy. During the validation I mentioned earlier, stakeholders also witness your commitment to the EMP and assist you to launch a transparent audit framework.
Your hotel is a game-changer for man and nature. Don’t compromise it because of some low-grade EIA.