International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA)

IAIA19: 39th Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment

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Evolution sees the gradual development of organizations, practice, and systems from simple to more complex forms. Revolution represents a dramatic and wide-ranging shift to an entirely new paradigm.

The introduction of environmental impact assessment was, in its day, a revolutionary means to ensure consideration of environmental factors in decision-making. Some 50 years later, environmental impact assessment (IA) has evolved to be a substantive broad-based plank in project and policy decision making. IA has shown both flexibility and resilience, its processes being adapted and applied in a wide range of contexts and settings across the world. It has diversified its focus to strategic environmental assessment, sustainability assessment, economic impact assessment, social impact assessment, health impact assessment, and cumulative impact assessment.

Event Type:
Conference/Seminar
Date:
Apr. 29, 2019 - May 2, 2019
Venue:
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Center
Location:
Brisbane , Australia

The introduction of environmental impact assessment was, in its day, a revolutionary means to ensure consideration of environmental factors in decision-making. Some 50 years later, environmental impact assessment (IA) has evolved to be a substantive broad-based plank in project and policy decision making. IA has shown both flexibility and resilience, its processes being adapted and applied in a wide range of contexts and settings across the world. It has diversified its focus to strategic environmental assessment, sustainability assessment, economic impact assessment, social impact assessment, health impact assessment, and cumulative impact assessment.

The utility of IA is under question on many fronts. IA is not without its critics. It has been attacked by project and policy proponents for impeding development, and by environmental and community interests for failing to meaningfully influence decision making and protect environmental and social values. Both groups criticize it for being costly, overly procedural and political, and question the value it adds to development and environmental outcomes.

IA is generally mandated by statute law. But laws that fail to serve the interests of good governance of communities can become moribund and fail to be administered. IA will change as governments, proponents and communities rationalise competing views about values.

  • Are IA regulations adequate in terms of scope and content, and can they be effective in the future?
  • Is the mandated science-based analytical approach of IA at odds with the broader purposes sought by communities, such as promoting sustainable development, educating and empowering stakeholders, and challenging the normative values of growth?
  • What role can practitioners play in this debate and the ultimate reform of IA processes?

The conference theme is deliberately provocative, inviting delegates to consider IA from different viewpoints. It calls for reflection on the imperatives for change if IA is to be part of another half-century of good practice environmental management. Will it be enough for IA to continue to evolve? Is there a better way to ensure that impact assessable matters are taken into account in project and policy decision making? If revolutionary change is needed, what might it look like?

Conference topics will allow participants to address questions such as:

-How can IA meet the challenges of the 21st century?
-How might evolution or revolution address common and long-standing criticisms of IA such as:

• Lack of independence and rigour in preparing documentation
• Ineffective community engagement in the process
• Poor consideration of cumulative impacts
• Limited influence on the political sphere of decision-making
• Lack of follow-up to determine predicted consequences and efficacy of avoidance and mitigation measures
• Inadequate responses to trans-boundary and global scale threats such as climate change?
 
-If revolution is the way forward, who will lead it, and to what end?
-What purposes are we seeking to achieve through IA?
-What is done well and can IA be further enhanced?
-What can we learn from the perceptions and practices of other disciplines?
-Does the focus of IA need to be narrowed or broadened?
-Are the different forms of IA evolving on convergent or divergent trajectories?
-Is IA based on theory or simply process?
-How can decision making, and political and dispute resolution theory inform the practice of IA?

For 38 years IAIA has been holding annual conference events and training courses all over the world to promote best practices in impact assessment. IAIA pre-conference training courses are presented primarily by IAIA members and are open to both conference participants and non-participants. (You do not need to attend IAIA19 to register for a course.) Twelve courses will be offered on 27-28 April. For complete descriptions, including instructors and course levels (introductory, intermediate, etc.), click here.

  • Human Rights and Impact Assessment (27-28 April)
  • More effective impact assessment: Tools for stronger argument and clearer writing (27-28 April)
  • Cumulative Effects Assessment (27-28 April)
  • Effective Implementation of Environmental and Social Management Plans (ESMPs): How can we Improve? (27-28 April)
  • Strategic Thinking SEA/IA for Sustainability (ST4S):  Revolutionizing IA (27-28 April)
  • Theory and Practice of Biodiversity-Friendly Infrastructure(27-28 April)
  • Socio-Economic Survey and Database Management in the Social Impact Assessment of Vulnerable Community Displacement(27-28 April)
  • Resettlement Planning and Impact Assessment (27-28 April)
  • Leadership, Influencing, and Communication Skills for EIA Team Leaders (27-28 April)
  • Ecological Solutions and Planning Options for Greening the Transport Infrastructure (27-28 April)
  • Social Impact Assessment (SIA:  Fit for the Future) (27-28 April)
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Public Participation in Impact Assessment:  Working to International Good Practice Standards, an International IAP2 Certificate Course (28 April)

There will be opportunities for wide-ranging discussions covering general IA topics and the work of IAIA's special-interest Sections, including:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • Earth resources extraction and processing
  • Linear infrastructure
  • Biodiversity and ecology
  • Arctic and Antarctic continents
  • Cultural heritage
  • Protected areas
  • Natural disasters and conflict
  • Corporate stewardship and risk management
  • Regulation and governance
  • Community engagement
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Strategic impact assessment
  • Social impact assessment
  • Health impact assessment
  • Cumulative affects assessment
  • Impact assessment, 'big' data, and synthesis
  • Drone technologies and remotely sensed data
  • Capacity building in impact assessment

IAIA19 is expected to attract more than 1000 international delegates from 80+ nations around the world with a large concentration expected from Australasia and Southeast Asia. The annual conference provides a platform for delegates representing a variety of sectors to share and engage with each other.

IAIA19 participants and their guests can choose to participate in one of ten technical visits. Some are offered before the conference, and some are offered after it ends. The technical visits typically include both touristic and impact assessment-related elements, meaning you can learn about IA and explore some of Australia at the same time. Destinations include Moreton Bay, Brisbane Wharf, the Gold Coast, Darling Downs, Brisbane Airport, and the Great Barrier Reef. Check out the full list of technical visits and their descriptions here.

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