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Beyond hurdle jumping: managing the impact assessment process for environmental performance

Arts, J. and Morrison-Saunders, A. (2006) Beyond hurdle jumping: managing the impact assessment process for environmental performance. In: IAIA06 Power, Poverty and Sustainability: The Role of Impact Assessment, 26th annual meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment, 23 - 26 May, Stavanger, Norway.


The IA toolbox contains an array of instruments: from sustainability appraisal and SEA at the strategic end of decisionmaking to “traditional” project-based EIA and operational level environmental management systems (EMS). Development of new instruments has been accompanied by regulation to guide their application. For practitioners, however, it is not obvious which IA instrument should be applied in a particular situation or when and how these might interrelate with other environmental management tools. Mostly this depends on ad hoc choices and too often these instruments are treated just as hurdles to jump. How might IA instruments be applied in a sensible way to make better decisions and improve environmental performance (the underlying objective of all these instruments) as well as to enable learning? We contemplate a framework in which more explicit design of IA occurs throughout the planning process to optimise environmental management outcomes. This requires consideration of both content and process dimensions. The framework includes choice of instruments and IA techniques, management of risks, division of roles and responsibilities for IA undertakings, engagement of stakeholders and information as well as learning and capacity building. Managing the IA process not only guides practice, but is essential for maximising environmental management performance.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
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