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Unsustainable thinking: what do we need to do to truly implement sustainability assessment?

Pope, J. and Morrison-Saunders, A. (2007) Unsustainable thinking: what do we need to do to truly implement sustainability assessment? In: IAIA07 Growth, Conservation and Responsibility: Promoting Good Governance and Corporate Stewardship Through Impact Assessment, 27th annual meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment, 3 - 4 June, Seoul, Korea.


Unsustainable thinking underlies society today. This is, of course, one of the compelling reasons why impact assessment was introduced in the first place, but, the evidence is that despite our efforts, global society is generally becoming less, rather than more, sustainable. How should we, as the IAIA community, respond to the growing crisis and how might sustainability assessment (or appraisal) become a tool for positive change? In this paper we argue that the challenges facing us demand new ways of thinking throughout all aspects of the assessment process. This includes new approaches to conceptualising development activities, new ways of engaging the public, new governance structures as well as new approaches to decision-making. We turn our lens onto IA practitioners (academics, consultants, industry and government) to consider how our current ways of thinking and approaching IA might jeopardise the progress towards sustainability. Our key concerns relate to the pursuit of individual goals, 'silo' thinking and competition between practitioners where there is a compelling need for cooperation. We offer a vision of a way forward and look forward to vigorously debating the issues.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
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