From Open Energy Information
Development Impacts Assessment Toolkit

Development Impacts Assessment

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Governments set national goals and priorities—social, economic, and environmental—that establish the context for government policies and programs. At the same time, many countries have defined low emission development strategies (LEDS) as a guiding framework for development.

The purpose of development impacts assessment (DIA) is to identify and assess the impacts, including both positive impacts (e.g., improved air or water quality, or reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and often referred to as “co-benefits”) and negative impacts (e.g., increased water usage, decrease in jobs) of government actions. DIA aims to support more informed decision-making by considering how policies and programs intended to meet one goal may impact other development priorities.

DIA explores interactions between development goals and LEDS actions. Impacts can be categorized in line with social, economic, and environmental development goals.

Why conduct DIA?

Informs and supports decision-making on policies and programs to meet development objectives:

  • Links key development priorities and low-carbon transport strategies
  • Improves effectiveness of development plans
  • Can be applied to national policies and programs, and to projects at the national, regional, and municipal level

Involves new partners that may not otherwise be interested in climate protection

Can increase access to climate and private finance


  • Education – assessing the impact of development on curriculum and learning approaches
  • Energy access – evaluating how development changes energy supply and demand
  • Gender – considering how national growth transforms social norms for men and women
  • Public health – understanding how development impacts air quality and human wellbeing
  • Rural development – gauging the impact of development on towns and non-urban communities

Example: A program to improve the health of rural farmers through the use of biogas (from animal waste) for cooking can contribute to both rural development (commercially viable biogas sector) and environmental protection (community health, sanitation, and reduced GHGs).


  • Jobs – estimating the number of jobs (net) that will result from a proposed policy
  • Balance of payments – understanding how national development impacts the global economy
  • Energy security – considering how development affects a nation's dependence on foreign oil
  • Gross domestic product – evaluating how national growth changes economic output
  • Local industry – estimating the impact of development on small businesses and entrepreneurs
  • Trade – assessing how development influences the way nations exchange goods and services

Example: In assessing the development impacts of a policy to improve energy security through expanded solar energy, the impact of switching from imported fossil fuels to solar power may improve public health through improved air quality.


  • Air – considering how development impacts emissions levels and air quality
  • Biodiversity – gauging the impact of development on plants, animals, and ecosystems
  • Climate resilience – estimating how development influences environmental sustainability
  • Greenhouse gases – understanding how national growth impacts global emissions
  • Water – evaluating how development changes water supply and demand

Example: A program aimed at reducing GHG emissions through high-efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) may reduce peak electricity demand and fossil fuel imports.

Get Started

To consider how these development goals impact your country, learn how to assess development impacts and explore ways to use the DIA toolkit.