6-1 Implications of the widening environment and sustainability agenda

Early EIAs focused only or primarily on impacts on the natural or biophysical environment (such as effects on air and water quality, flora and fauna, noise levels, climate and hydrological systems). However, over time, increased consideration has been given to social, health and economic impacts. This trend has been driven partly by public involvement in the EIA process. It is reflected by the evolving definition of the term ‘environment’ in EIA legislation, guidance and practice.

In many EIA systems, a broad definition of ‘environment’ is adopted. This can include effects on:

  • human health and safety;
  • flora, fauna, ecosystems and biological diversity;
  • soil, water, air, climate and landscape;
  • use of land, natural resources and raw materials;
  • protected areas and designated sites of scientific, historical and cultural significance;
  • heritage, recreation and amenity assets; and
  • livelihood, lifestyle and well being of those affected by a proposal.

Depending on the EIA system, some or all of these impacts may require analysis and evaluation. Often, however, health, social and other nonbiophysical impacts are either not considered or are inadequately addressed. An alternative approach is to undertake separate, but parallel, assessments of social, health and other impacts when they are considered to be particularly important for decision-making and not adequately addressed by EIA or other similar processes (such as risk assessment). The preferable approach is to undertake an integrated analysis.

July 26, 2006 Uncategorized — brendan @ 2:48 pm


  1. Dear Sir,

    The changing trend from biophysical & natural to human health is welcome move for environmental impact assessment. We can go on widening the scope of environmental concerns for sustainiability & intergenerational equity. But I feel more important is a legal framework for humanities ” Right to Environment ” and clear boundaries for global concerns, specific country concerns, local project and effected vicinity concern. If all the environmental mitigation cost is loaded on to the project, the development will slow down. Therefore the concern are to be clarified. Like providing good health services from tax payers money is role of Governance system. However if any project is making adverse impact on health of humanity, it need to be specific arising out of project activities. Should UNU thinks merit in consideration, given the opportunity, I am available for further contribution.

    Comment by Manohar Lal Baharani — April 16, 2007 @ 10:31 pm

  2. I do agree with Manohar Lal, however, we have to consider every aspect of development and ways in which it will affect. The best way for is finding the balance whereby project is not delayed and same time environment is not impacted.

    Comment by Vinesh Prasad — November 17, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

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