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Title: Advancing the theory and practice of impact assessment: Setting the research agenda

Impact assessment has been in place for over 40 years and is now practised in some form in all but two of the world's nations. In this paper we reflect on the state of the art of impact assessment theory and practice, focusing on six well-established forms: EIA, SEA, policy assessment, SIA, HIA and sustainability assessment. We note that although the fundamentals of impact assessment have their roots in the US National Environmental Policy Act 1969 (NEPA) each branch of the field is distinct in also drawing on other theoretical and conceptual bases that in turn shape the prevailing discourse in each case, generating increasing degrees of specialisation within each sub-field. Against this backdrop, we consider the strengths and weaknesses of collective impact assessment practice, concluding that although there are substantial strengths, the plethora of specialist branches is generating a somewhat confusing picture and lack of clarity regarding how the pieces of the impact assessment jigsaw puzzle fit together. We use this review to suggest an overarching research agenda that will enable impact assessment to evolve in line with changing expectations for what it should deliver. -- Highlights: ► Strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats for IA are explored in thismore » paper ► EIA, SEA, policy assessment, SIA, HIA and sustainability assessment are reviewed ► Diversity of practice is both a strength and weakness in the current economic climate ► There are opportunities to simplify IA by focusing on common and fundamental elements ► Continued research into theory related to IA effectiveness is also essential.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4]
  1. Integral Sustainability, PO Box 79, South Fremantle WA 6162 (Australia)
  2. (South Africa)
  3. (Australia)
  4. School of Geo and Spatial Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520 (South Africa)
  5. (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22246880
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 41; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; CLIMATIC CHANGE; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENTS; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY; ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION; GLOBAL ASPECTS; US NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT