European Practice and Experience
Evaluating Sustainable Development series
Edited by Clive George and Colin Kirkpatrick
Chapter 1: Impact Assessment and Sustainable Development: An Introduction
Clive George and Colin Kirkpatrick I. INTRODUCTION The United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 successfully established the concept of sustainable development as an underlying principle for strategic policy and planning. But the translation of the principle of sustainable development into practice has presented new challenges in ﬁnding workable solutions to the complex trade-oﬀs that can arise between the diﬀerent, and often conﬂicting, dimensions of sustainable development. The growing complexity of policy-making in terms of the goal of sustainable development has encouraged a growing interest among researchers and practitioners in developing a practical and evidence based approach to public policy appraisal and evaluation. As a result, impact assessment, deﬁned as the systematic assessment of the potential or actual eﬀects of a public intervention on the economic, social and environmental ‘pillars’ of sustainable development, is now used as a tool for policy-making in the European Commission, most member states of the European Union (EU), other OECD countries, and in a growing number of developing countries and transitional economies.1 II. IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT The last decade has seen a growing international interest in the development and use of evidence-informed policy and practice across a wide range of public policy issues. While the design and implementation of public policy has always been of concern to public sector researchers and policy makers, the importance of good regulation has come to the forefront today because of the rise of the ‘regulatory state’ (Majone 1994, 1997)...