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Environmental Impact Assessment – Definition

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Definition

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the assessment of the environmental consequences (positive and negative) of a plan, policy, application, or real initiative. An EIA is mandated by the Environment Protection Agency and must be completed before a decision to move forward with the proposed action.

A Little More on What is an Environmental Impact Assessment

The mains purpose of the EIA is to ensure that policy makers bear in mind the environmental affects when determining whether or not to continue with a proposed project. The International Affiliation for Impact Evaluation (IAIA) defines an environmental effect assessment as “the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and different relevant outcomes of development proposals prior to predominant decisions being taken and commitments made”.
EIAs are precise in that they no longer require adherence to a predetermined environmental result. Instead, they require policymakers to account for the environmental impacts of their policies and to justify their choices in the light of specific environmental studies and public feedback.

EIAs began in the 1960s during a time of growing environmental attention. They acquired formal recognition in 1969 with the enactment of the Environmental Protection Act. EISs have replaced the manual filing of annual environmental assessments. An environmental assessment (EA) provides more information which assists an organization to decide whether or not to prepare a full environmental effect statement (EIS).”

References for Environmental Impact Assessment

Academic Research on Environmental impact assessment (EIA)

●      Towards the sustainable corporation: Win-win-win business strategies for sustainable development, Elkington, J. (1994). California management review36(2), 90-100. This paper explores the different pressures on a business to improve its environmental performance. This article traces the development of some of those pressures, highlighting industries in the firing line, and examining some of the concerns of consumers. It also explores the rapidly expanding area of corporate environmental reporting, including forms of environmental disclosure, target audiences, and leading exponents of the field.

●      Scenario analysis in environmental impact assessment: Improving explorations of the future, Duinker, P. N., & Greig, L. A. (2007). Environmental impact assessment review27(3), 206-219. This paper analyses the increased importance of scenarios and scenario analysis in organizational planning in pursuit for sustainable development. It investigates the low use of these processes in environmental impact analysis (EIA). In this paper, the authors review the state of the art associated with scenarios and scenario analysis, and describe two areas where scenario analysis could be particularly helpful in EIA.

●      Environmental impact assessment in Australia, Thomas, I. (1998). Federation Press, Sydney) ISBN1(86287), 283.

●      Life cycle assessment as a tool in environmental impact assessment, Tukker, A. (2000). Environmental impact assessment review20(4), 435-456. This paper aims to show the similarities between the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the life cycle assessment (LCA), contrary to the belief that they differ fundamentally. The main aim of this paper is to show that both the EIA and the LCA have the same functions, and the only differences between them exists in their names.

●      The theory of environmental impact assessment: implicit models of policy making, Bartlett, R. V., & Kurian, P. A. (1999). Policy & Politics27(4), 415-433. This paper analyses literatures produced on effective EIA. Findings show that most guides are as a result of imaginations and cannot be be applied in a pratical situation. As a first step in developing a theory of EIA, the authors identify six categories of implicit models based on survey of scholarly and practitioner literature. Implications of the theory in this literature is document and discussed further.

●      Environmental impact assessment: challenges and opportunities, Ortolano, L., & Shepherd, A. (1995). Impact assessment13(1), 3-30.

●      Improving alternatives for environmental impact assessment, Steinemann, A. (2001). Environmental Impact Assessment Review21(1), 3-21. This article investigates problems with the development of alternatives for environmental impact assessment, based on a study of EIAs in the US, and proposes ways to improve environmental decision-making.

●      Strategic Environmental Assessment: An Overview, Therivel, R. (2013). In Strategic Environmental Assessment in Action(pp. 19-31). Routledge.

●      Walking the sustainability assessment talk—Progressing the practice of environmental impact assessment (EIA), Morrison-Saunders, A., & Retief, F. (2012). Environmental Impact Assessment Review36, 34-41. This paper tests the existing objectives for EIA in South Africa against sustainability principles and then critique the effectiveness of EIA practice in delivering these objectives. The outcome of the research suggests that notwithstanding a strong and explicit sustainability mandate through policy and legislation, the effectiveness of EIA practice falls far short of what is mandated. The authors propose different methods in which EIA can be manipulated to increase sustainability.

●      Environmental impact assessment including indirect effects—a case study using input–output analysis, Lenzen, M., Murray, S. A., Korte, B., & Dey, C. J. (2003). Environmental Impact Assessment Review23(3), 263-282. This paper examines a method that uses input–output analysis to calculate the indirect effects of a development proposal in terms of several indicator variables in environmental impact statement. Using results from a case study, the authors conclude that employing input–output analysis enhances conventional EIA, as it allows for national and international effects to be taken into account in the decision-making process.

●      Monitoring and post-auditing in environmental impact assessment: a review, Dipper, B. (1998). Journal of environmental planning and management41(6), 731-747. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a procedure for predicting environmental impacts of projects prior to their development, while post-auditing seeks to assess the accuracy of such predictions. This paper analyses a literature review which examines the need for post-auditing, highlighting several benefits to EIA performance that could arise if the results were effectively used.

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