How do we know if environmental impact assessment is effective?

Project Overview

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) has a relatively long history as an environmental management tool. It is well established, widely practised and arguably well regarded. But its effectiveness is debated.  In Canada recent changes to federal legislation and some provincial systems may compromise the capacity of EIA to help environmental management, mitigate risks and impacts, maximize benefits, and improve and support development.

Effectiveness is a long-standing issue in EIA research—the theme is fundamental to the development of EIA and essential to understanding its contributions to environmental management. However, systematic evaluations of the actual impacts and influence of EIA on environmental quality and policy are rare, and the Canadian context is no exception.

A working definition of effectiveness…

The most overarching definition of the effectiveness of environmental assessment is the extent to which it identifies, assesses, and finds ways to mitigate or eliminate the potential negative impacts of development, and importantly how well environmental assessment helps or improves environmental management and ultimately the state of the environment.

Our research aims to go beyond process studies. We are working to develop criteria that can be used to better understand the impact of EIA on environmental management and decision-making, and provide research that examines the nuanced factors that help shape its effectiveness. 

We aim to provide applied and practical information that can help in the development and improvement of EIA and the advancement of best practices in the private and public sectors.

Our Universities

The University of British Columbia

The University of Saskatchewan

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At the IAIA 2013 Conference in Calgary, Alberta
Brandon Gregg, Kevin Hanna, Bram Noble and Wanda Leung

News 2015

The US House of Representatives passed a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, setting up a confrontation with US President Obama, who has vowed to veto the measure.

The bill, which passed the Senate last month, is headed to Mr. Obama’s desk.

Mr. Obama’s expected veto of the bill will not represent a rejection of the pipeline itself. Because the pipeline crosses an international border — with Canada — the president retains the final authority to make the final decision on whether to build it. From the NYT.

Alberta Oil
magazine just published its national survey on energy literacy, the culmination of 1,396 online interviews of a representative sample of Canadians conducted by Leger.

The results are particularly interesting coming from Alberta Oil, a magazine destined for the desks of the energy sector's senior executives and decision-makers.

Summing up the survey's findings, Alberta Oil editors wrote that opposition to energy projects is ''not just for West Coast hippies anymore.'' From the Tyee.

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