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  • Series: Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series x
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Edited by Davide Geneletti

This Handbook presents state-of-the-art methodological guidance and discussion of international practice related to the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in impact assessment, featuring contributions from leading researchers and practitioners the world over. Its multidisciplinary approach covers contributions across five continents to broaden the scope of the field both thematically and geographically.
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Edited by Nora Götzmann

Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) has increasingly gained traction among state, business and civil society actors since the endorsement of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by the Human Rights Council in 2011. This timely and insightful Handbook addresses HRIA in the context of business and human rights.
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Samuel J. Hayes and Thomas B. Fischer

This chapter explores the use of objectives as part of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). As suggested by the title, it does this by considering objectives in several ways. To illustrate the points made in our discussion we draw on UK practice examples, own research and also from international SEA literature. Looking at how objectives are set for SEA, how objectives of SEA are drawn up and how SEA scrutinises objectives in policies, plans and programmes shows how, far from being a simple procedural technique, the use of objectives is embedded in the politics of the environment, sustainable development and decision-making.

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Maria R. Partidário

Strategic thinking is ambitious. It means expanding space and time boundaries to capture multiple interconnections at different levels, using systems lenses to understand networks, path dependencies and lock-ins, to capture priorities and uncertainties and to enable focus on the few aspects that may trigger transitions for sustainability. Routine types of impact assessments, such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and conventional forms of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), often focus on observable symptoms, taken as effects, and evaluate the impacts. These conventional assessments tend to scratch only the surface of problems, missing the underlying sources of undesirable change. In strategic thinking assessment, priority should be placed on seeking the root causes of undesirable changes. This entails beginning the search for the causes of impacts by looking from a distance, gaining perspective and revealing connections. When we look further, the biophysical patterns of change that we capture as effects, and impacts, in fact reveal political actions, social priorities, economic drivers and governance tensions, all of which, unless duly addressed, will persist, as well as its consequences. So, thinking strategically about environmental issues inevitably engages sustainability, even when the understanding of environment is narrow, as long as the root causes are examined. This has led to the conceptualization of the strategic thinking for sustainability (ST4S) model with applications in different policy and planning development contexts. This chapter elaborates on the principles and the methodological grounds of the ST4S model and how it enables SEA to act as a strategic instrument when addressing the impacts of development initiatives.

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Edited by Thomas B. Fischer and Ainhoa González

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Edited by Thomas B. Fischer and Ainhoa González

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Thomas B. Fischer and Ainhoa González

In this introduction to the Handbook on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) a brief description of the origins of SEA is provided. Furthermore, growth in practice, research and publication activities and an associated evolving understanding of SEA over time is described. In this context, the maturing of conceptual thinking along with the increasing versatile use of SEA is stressed. Finally, the book itself is introduced, including its underlying idea and rationale, as well as its structure.

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Anke Rehhausen, Marie Hanusch and Thomas B. Fischer

In many European Union (EU) member states, plans and programmes revolve around a number of concrete development ideas, i.e. potential projects. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for these types of plans and programmes therefore needs to adopt a multi-project approach. This chapter explains what this approach and its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)-based rationale looks like, using three SEAs from Germany as examples. Benefits and challenges are discussed, taking into account that one of the objectives of SEA in the EU is to address the limitations of EIA for projects, in particular the weak consideration of (a) cumulative effects and (b) alternatives.

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Naja Marot, Thomas B. Fischer, Olivier Sykes, Mojca Golobič, Tara Muthoora and Ainhoa González

Territorial Impact Assessment (TIA) is a policy Strategic Environmental Assessment type tool used in the European Union (EU), for European and EU Member States levels as well as across Member States in, for example, trans-border regions. It is closely connected with the EU concept of Territorial Cohesion, which is based on the idea that no EU citizen should be disadvantaged in terms of access to public services, housing, or employment opportunities just by living in a particular region. To date, TIA has been applied in particular to European directives and other legislation in research projects in order to assess territorially diverse socio-economic, cultural and environmental impacts (both, positive and negative). This chapter examines and reflects on the ideas behind TIA, and presents and discusses two applications in practice.

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Ainhoa González and Davide Geneletti

The intrinsic spatial nature of environmental assessment and, indeed, most planning decisions can significantly benefit from GIS-based analyses and outcomes. GIS can provide a robust evidence-base to support consistent, transparent and informed assessments and decisions. While the uptake of GIS in SEA is growing, their application remains basic, supporting in particular certain procedural stages such as scoping or the definition of the baseline environment. Spatial analysis approaches, incorporating environmental sensitivity, impact absorption capacity and risks, as well as ecosystem services considerations are however progressively being developed and applied in the assessment of alternatives, albeit much of these approaches are linked to research rather than practice. In all cases, data quality and scale limitations remain affecting the applicability and, indeed, the outputs of GIS in SEA. Nevertheless, there is a clear trend towards a proactive adoption of GIS approaches to support SEA and the steadfast improvement of spatial data coupled with technological advancements suggest a methodological shift in SEA approaches from traditional expert knowledge matrix-based methods to more objective, consistent and geographically-explicit analyses. This chapter explores the trajectory of GIS applications in SEA, and examine how GIS can support the various SEA stages. It identifies and discusses opportunities and limitations, and concludes with a set of recommendations to effectively and efficiently embed GIS in order to optimise their application in and contribution to SEA.