Monday, November 19, 2012

EIA has evolved in the last 20yrs > A State of the Art Review

Posted: Nov 19th, 2012

Environmental impact assessment: the state of the art

(Nanowerk News) The environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been with us for the last 40 years. The term refers to the idea of assessing proposed actions – from policies to projects – for their likely implications for all aspects of the environment – from social to biophysical – before decisions are made to commit those actions, as well as developing appropriate responses to any issues raised.In a recent issue of Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, Richard K. Morgan of the University of Otago, New Zealand, reviews the progress of the EIA, with particular emphasis on the last 15–20 years ("Environmental impact assessment: the state of the art"). He also assesses whether EIA is ready for future challenges.In his overview of the history of EIA, Morgan examines its spread around the world, recent trends in its uptake and the continuing emergence of variants, including the health impact assessment and climate-change impact assessment. He also explores current issues in EIA under three main headings: theory, practice issues and effectiveness. He draws particular attention to how discussions on EIA theory, especially over the last 15 years, have affected different areas of practice and evaluation.Morgan concludes that EIA is now well established around the world, with widespread use in statutory development control, environmental and international law, and lending-institution standards. He points to the fact that 191 of the 193 member nations of the United Nations have either national legislation or have signed some form of international legal instrument that refers to the use of EIA. Its use in different levels of decision making is growing, too, as is the range of decisions it is employed to make.EIA is also now well supported by a variety of professionals, agencies and institutions. Theoretical debates relating to EIA are also growing, opening pathways to alternative viewpoints and processes. New concepts such as environmental justice and inclusivity actively contribute to the development of theory and practice.

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