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Understanding why impact assessment fails; A case study of theory and practice from Wafi-Golpu, Papua New Guinea

Roche, C., Brueckner, M., Walim, N., Sindana, H. and John, E. (2021) Understanding why impact assessment fails; A case study of theory and practice from Wafi-Golpu, Papua New Guinea. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 89 . Art. 106582.

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From an instrumental or management perspective, impact assessment (IA) is a process of identifying impacts, finding solutions and achieving project approval. A recipient community, however, has a completely different perspective. For them the IA is about living with impacts, individually and collectively, perhaps over generations, and contested processes of self-determination, consultation and exclusion. IA practitioners live in a third space, usually bound to the proponent but also aware of responsibilities to communities and eco-systems. Seeking to better understand how IA is practiced and experienced, we explore the proposed Wafi-Golpu mine, located in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea. Determinably focused on local effects we situate the proposed mine within the context of the national mining experience and discuss how IA practices see local and/or Indigenous communities. We find that the Wafi-Golpu IA is blind to local ways of being and seeing the world, with an opaque and arbitrary assessment that reflects its technical and Western basis and bias. We finish with observations about the proposed Wafi-Golpu mine and IA that is relevant to the approval process, as well as making a decolonial, Southern contribution to IA theory and practice, extractive industry regulation and mining-affected communities elsewhere.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Inc.
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