Safeguarding the Environment: Environmental Impact Assessment at USAID

USAID uses an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process to evaluate the potential impact of USAID’s activities on the environment prior to implementation. 

The purpose of the EIA procedures is to assure that: the potential adverse impacts of development activities on ecosystems, environmental resources, and human health and welfare are identified prior to implementation; that this information fully informs the decision of whether or not to proceed to implementation,; and that activities are designed and implemented to minimize these impacts. The procedures are a life-of-project process for achieving sustainable actions that promote community self reliance.

In systematically reducing risk and safeguarding people and resources, the procedures strengthen development outcomes and advance USAID’s mission, assisting partner countries in their development journey by increasing self-reliance and promoting resilience

USAID fulfills the requirements of 22 CFR 216 through the Agency's environmental procedures. These consist of:

  1. Federal regulation, 22 CFR 216, which defines USAID’s pre-implementation EIA process and environmental requirements in Sections 117, 118 and 119 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.
  2. Mandatory operating policies set out in USAID’s Automated Directives System (ADS), which define the policies and procedures that guide the Agency's programs and operations.

Key requirements

In summary, USAID’s environmental procedures require that:

  1. Environmental considerations are taken into account in activity planning/early design.
  2. Prior to implementation, all activities undergo a formal EIA process defined by 22 CFR 216. This process is recorded in 22 CFR 216 documentation which must be approved by the Mission Director (or equivalent) and the Bureau Environmental Officer.
  3. Environmental mitigation and monitoring conditions resulting from this EIA process are written into procurement instruments (contracts, awards, cooperative agreements, etc.), implemented and monitored.
  4. Operating units must report annually on the environmental compliance status of each project in their portfolio.
  5. Environmental compliance documentation is maintained and used to actively manage implementation.

(Subtopics in this section, available via the navigation bar at left, provide more information about elements 2 and 3, which are the most complex aspects of the process.)


All USAID staff with responsibilities for design, procurement, and/or management and oversight of USAID project and activities have environmental compliance responsibilities. USAID’s Environmental Officers at the Mission, Bureau and Regional levels advise on the environmental compliance process and lend their expertise throughout the project life cycle. See “Mission Processes, Roles and Responsibilities” page for more information.


Environmental Procedures