Smartening Impact Assessment in Challenging Times

Recent dramatic events worldwide, from floods and bushfires to the ongoing pandemic, call for a revaluing of the contribution of impact assessment tools to anticipating and preparing us for such challenges. Integrating environmental and health considerations into planning and decision making, across geographic scales and sectors, is essential to ensure preparedness, mitigation, adaptation, and community resilience.

The turn of the century saw a data explosion, evidenced even more in recent times by global initiatives to measure the spread of COVID-19 and the associated improvements in air quality, for example. The related increase in the application of novel techniques and tools to manage and make sense of this data is seamlessly increasing the information available, particularly through systematic online interfaces, to support assessments and decisions. These advancements are potentially strengthening and bolstering impact assessment, planning, and decision making practice through the delivery of evidence-based, spatially robust, and transparent information. There are also indications that they can influence coordination of procedures and governance dynamics – as also made evident by the health crisis. Can we learn from past and recent experiences and take a more proactive approach to effectively making use of the growing flow of spatio-temporal data and technological innovation to enhance assessments and decisions? Would this contribute to taking better environmental action?

Against the backdrop of digital and technological progress and increasing global environmental, health and social challenges, this conference aims to explore related scientific, technological, and governance developments to reflect on whether the impact assessment community is getting any smarter at bridging the science and art of impact assessment. Are we exploiting the full potential of smart technologies and big data? Are we communicating scientific information appropriately across the various governance tiers and to all relevant players? Do we understand what the “right” information is for decision-makers and, indeed, how data and methodological innovation are influencing decisions? Is this leading to a new era of impact assessment and thinking? Or do we remain in the status quo?

These and some other contemporary questions will help address how we can make best use of scientific innovation to address pressing global and local challenges.


  • EIA


IAIA21 Smartening Impact Assessment in Challenging Times