Sustainability Assessment is an increasingly important tool for informing planning and development decisions across the globe. Required by law in some countries, strongly recommended in others, a comprehensive analysis of why Sustainability Assessment is needed and clarification of the value-laden and political nature of assessments is long overdue. Currently the writing on the subject is limited and comprises, for the most part, guidance documents and completed assessments. This book overcomes these shortcomings by simultaneously providing the knowledge, inspiration and range of assessment tools in decision-making students require to tackle Sustainability Assessment challenges nested within wide-ranging values and sustainability-grounded evidence. The collection details the current state-of-the art in relation to Sustainability Assessment theory and practice, and considers the pluralistic nature of the tool and the implications for achieving sustainable decision-making. The contributors set out the context for Sustainability Assessment and then outline some contested issues which can affect interpretations of whether the decision tool has been effective. Current practice worldwide is assessed against a consistent framework and then solutions to some of the inherent weaknesses and causes of conflict in relation to the perceived sustainability of outcomes are put forward. The book is unique in setting out state-of-the-art in terms of Sustainability Assessment practice by focusing on those countries with developing experience. It also covers emerging factors influencing effectiveness of decision-making tools and evaluates how they affect the performance of Sustainability Assessment. Written by authors among the leading university academics teaching impact assessment courses in the most acclaimed universities worldwide operating in this field, it is ideally suited for the growing numbers of courses in impact assessment education and training.
The structure of the book -- pt. 1 Introduction -- pt. 2 Sustainability assessment: pluralism -- pt. 3 Sustainability assessment: practice -- pt. 4 Solutions? -- pt. 1 Introduction -- 1.Why sustainability assessment? -- Introduction -- Trends and implications -- Transitions and institutions -- The evident lessons -- Six imperatives for sustainability assessment -- References -- Environmental assessment and sustainability timeline -- 2.The changing theory of impact assessment -- Introduction -- Defining scientific theory -- Theoretical underpinnings in the early years -- The changing nature of IA theory -- The changing normative basis for IA theory -- Developments in theories of decision making -- Causal theory -- Theory and pluralism -- Conclusions -- References -- pt. 2 Sustainability assessment: pluralism -- 3.Challenges in determining the effectiveness of sustainability assessment -- Introduction -- Critical debates -- Contested meanings of sustainable development -- Sustainability and context -- Contested time horizons and spatial boundaries -- Holism versus reductionism -- Process versus outcomes -- Measuring effectiveness -- Pluralism and effectiveness -- Conclusions -- Notes -- References -- 4.Contested time horizons -- Introduction -- Time horizon issues -- Length of time horizons -- Cultural value of resource -- Resilience of resource -- Who absorbs costs or profits from project impacts? -- Cases -- Case #1 Solar Calendar in southern Utah -- Case #2 Reefs, marine fishermen lifeways in St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Case #3 Hallandsas railway tunnel in Sweden Discussion References -- 5.Contested spatiality: geographical scale in sustainability assessment -- Introduction -- Sustainability across geographical, social and ecological scales -- Sustainability in practice: cases studies of scale issues in sustainability assessment -- Scoping and scale - assessment processes in Quebec (Canada) -- Mining - bioaccumulation of radio nuclides Kakadu (Australia) -- Murray-Darling Basin Authority (Australia) -- Key ideas for sustainability assessment practice -- References -- 6.Legal pluralism: notions of standing and legal process constraining assessment -- Introduction -- Context of sustainability assessment -- Sustainability assessment as part of improved governance: international initiatives -- Standing and access to justice in Australia -- Challenging Australian environmental decisions -- Australian federal approaches to judicial review -- New South Wales: state approaches to judicial review -- Potential for legal review of sustainability assessment in Australia -- Learning from international and national approaches to improving environmental governance -- Concluding comments -- References -- 7.Pluralism in practice -- Introduction -- Context -- Conceptualisations of sustainability -- Values and interests -- Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) for sustainability assessment -- What's your bottom line? -- Process expectations -- Embracing pluralism in sustainability assessment -- Strategic approaches to sustainability assessment -- Deliberation in sustainability assessment -- Sustainability assessment as a learning process -- Conclusion -- References -- pt. 3 Sustainability assessment: practice -- 8.Framework for comparing and evaluating sustainability assessment practice -- Introduction -- Procedural effectiveness -- Substantive effectiveness -- Transactive effectiveness -- Normative effectiveness -- Pluralism -- Knowledge and learning -- Conclusions -- Notes -- References -- 9.Sustainability assessment in England -- Introduction -- Procedural effectiveness -- Substantive effectiveness -- Transactive effectiveness -- Normative effectiveness -- Pluralism -- Knowledge and learning -- Conclusions -- Notes -- References -- 10.Learning by doing: sustainability assessment in Western Australia -- Introduction -- The evolution of sustainability assessment in Western Australia -- The practice of sustainability assessment in Western Australia -- External regulator-led sustainability assessment -- Internal proponent-led sustainability assessment -- Procedural effectiveness -- Substantive effectiveness -- Travsactive effectiveness -- Normative effectiveness -- Pluralism -- Knowledge and learning -- Concluding remarks -- References -- 11.Sustainability assessment in Canada -- Introduction -- Sustainability assessment as public practice -- Evaluating formal sustainability assessments in Canada Seven sustainability assessments -- The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry (1974-1977) -- Ontario's class environmental assessment of timber management on crown lands (1987-1994) -- Development of an urban growth management strategy for British Columbia's Capital Regional District (1996-2003) -- The Voisey's Bay mine and mill environmental assessment (1997-2002) -- Whites Point quarry and marine terminal environmental assessment (2004-2007) -- Kemess North copper-gold mine environmental assessment (2005-2007) -- Mackenzie Gas Project environmental assessment (2004-2009) -- Lessons and prospects References -- 12.Sustainability assessment in South Africa -- Introduction -- Procedural effectiveness -- Substantive effectiveness -- Normative effectiveness -- Transactive effectiveness -- Pluralism -- Knowledge and learning -- Summary and conclusions -- Notes -- References -- pt. 4 Solutions? -- 13.Better engagement Introduction -- Letting many voices be heard: methods for better engagement -- Influencing decisions -- Making engagement work: embedding solutions in sustainable structures -- Conclusions -- References -- 14.Better learning -- Introduction -- Theory and types of learning -- Examples of learning from sustainability assessment practice -- Learning in proponents -- Learning in consultants -- Learning in regulators -- Learning in the public -- Learning in researchers -- Better learning -- Critical reflection in sustainability assessment -- Critical and reflective engagement in sustainability assessment -- Facilitating emancipator learning -- Conclusions -- References -- 15.Designing an effective sustainability assessment process -- Introduction -- Summary of practice -- Procedural effectiveness -- Substantive effectiveness -- Transactive effectiveness -- Normative effectiveness -- Pluralism -- Knowledge and learning -- Some reflections on the theory of effectiveness -- Connecting criteria and imperatives -- Better process? References -- 16.Integrating sustainability assessment into planning: benefits and challenges -- Introduction -- Sustainability in planning -- Integrating planning and sustainability assessment contents -- Integrating planning and sustainability assessment processes -- Methodological challenges -- Conclusions -- Acknowledgements -- References -- 17.Conclusions -- Introduction -- The focus on pluralism -- A robust evaluation framework -- Representing sustainability assessment practice -- What key challenges face sustainability assessment? -- Are the recommendations made in Part 4 realistic? -- References.