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Title: Applying an improved rapid impact assessment matrix method to strategic environmental assessment of urban planning in China

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) has become an increasingly important decision-support tool for providing information on the environmental implications of a policy, plan, or program. The goal is to safeguard the environment and promote sustainable development at the strategic level. Despite major progress in implementing SEA practices internationally, developing countries, such as China, often lag behind in applying SEA methodology. Lack of available data and time constraints arising from tight schedules create problems. The rapid impact assessment matrix (RIAM) is a potential resource for breaking through such difficulties. Our analysis of RIAM applications suggested that it could become a tool for evaluating strategic alternatives because of its applicability in interdisciplinary settings, its transparency, and its short implementation timeframe. To make it more suitable for the SEA context, we have developed two major improvements to the conventional RIAM process: assignment of weights to assessment indicators and the development of an integrated environmental assessment score (IES). The improved RIAM process was employed in an SEA of the development plan for the Nansha District in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province in China. It was used to assess five alternatives for development in Wanqingsha (WQS), a subunit of Nansha, where important ecological resourcesmore » are located and where industrial development could impact the air quality in the neighboring Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The evaluation identified WQS-A04 as the preferred alternative. This alternative involved a minimal amount of industrial development – 10% compared with the most intense development alternative – and included important wetland preservation plans. The assessment results have been incorporated into the officially approved development plan for Nansha. The improved RIAM methodology is well adapted to the technical aims of SEA and decision-making structures in China. It offers the potential for delivering timely and quality results to decision-making processes. To achieve the desired efficiency, it is recommended that an SEA procedure take into account findings acquired from an improved RIAM application at an early stage, then, at a later stage, results from more comprehensive assessments conducted using more sophisticated methods should be added, if time and data are available. - Highlights: • RIAM is a potential SEA tool due to its multidisciplinary setting and rapid process. • Weighting index and computing IES are raised for improving RIAM when applied to SEAs. • The improved RIAM boosts SEA effectiveness by timely responding to decision-making. • The improved RIAM is more suitable to an SEA bothered by tight time or data shortage. • The improved RIAM adapts to the technical aims of SEA and decision features in China.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 46; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2014 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States