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Designing an effective sustainability assessment process

Bond, A., Morrison-Saunders, A. and Stoeglehner, G. (2013) Designing an effective sustainability assessment process. In: Bond, A., Morrison-Saunders, A. and Howitt, R., (eds.) Sustainability Assessment Pluralism, Practice and Progress. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Oxon, UK, pp. 231-244.

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At this stage of the book it should be clear that sustainability assessment is very complex and sustainability assessment needs careful design if it is to help to achieve sustainable development. Chapters 3 and 8 have set the scene for considering what matters in sustainability assessment, while chapters 9-12 provided examples of some existing practice which is summarised in this chapter in order to highlight the critical areas which need to be addressed if practice is to be considered effective (judged by our own evaluation framework). Chapters 13 and 14 dealt specifically with the issues of pluralism and knowledge and learning and we recognise that these are critical to effective Sustainability Assessment, and have provided some insights on the best ways forward.

This chapter aims to help future practitioners navigate through the sustainability assessment design process. We argue that it is not (necessarily) appropriate to pick an off-the-shelf process, but that it is necessary to gain an understanding of the ways in which sustainability assessment will influence outcomes, values and perceptions so that it is designed to be fit-for-purpose. Indeed, the practice chapters have made it clear that in some countries, whilst the approaches taken have a sustainability remit, this in no way relies on formal or legal process requirements. In designing sustainability assessment, our argument is that an effective assessment process seeks to achieve the six imperatives of sustainability (as set out in Chapter 1 by Gibson), which must always be considered as criteria against which the process will be tested, through achieving effectiveness in all aspects of the evaluation framework. If efforts are not made to achieve effectiveness in all aspects, there will be a gap between the aspiration of the assessment process and the goals which are achieved.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group
Publishers Website:
Notes: Chapter 15
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