Investigating communication of findings in Environmental Impact Assessment and developing a research agenda for improvement

Alan Bond, Francois Retief, Angus Morrison-Saunders, Jenny Pope, Reece C Alberts, Claudine Roos, Dirk Cilliers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) aims to embed consideration of the significance of predicted environmental consequences (the findings) of proposed developments into approval decision making. Achieving this aim relies on adequate communication of the findings of the EIA to the stakeholders, especially the decision makers responsible for the approval decision. However, the naïve assumption that this communication of findings can be effectively achieved through the publication of a written report pervades legislation worldwide, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. As a first step towards improving such communication, this research identifies the contingent conditions associated with effectively transferring EIA findings from an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to decision makers and other stakeholders based upon literature review. The transmission of meaning is found to be the major theme underpinning good communication, subdivided into discourse, readability, and legitimacy. Based on a clearer understanding of the limitations associated with an EIS as a communication medium, and acknowledging there are likely to be better mechanisms for transferring the meaning of the findings of an EIA to decision makers and other stakeholders, a pragmatic research agenda is outlined. This includes some initial suggestions of other research fields (like semiotics and social psychology), or technologies (like AI) that may provide learning and improvement opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107453
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Volume105
Early online date10 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • environmental impact assessment
  • ; environmental impact statement
  • communication
  • meaning
  • semiotics
  • social psychology
  • verbatim
  • gist

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