Regulators’ perceptions of environmental impact assessment (EIA) benefits in a sustainable development context

Claudine Roos, Dirk Cilliers, Francois Retief, Reece Alberts, Alan Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


The costs of conducting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are well known. Yet the benefits of EIA are much more intangible, leading to a situation where some question its value as the tool of choice for informing decision makers of the sustainability consequences of their actions. Exponents of EIA have thus called for more research on the benefits of EIA in order to provide better evidence on its costs versus benefits, and therefore its value as a decision-making tool. This paper contributes to this evidence by exploring the perceived potential benefits and perceived realised benefits of EIA from a regulators’ perspective in the context of sustainable development. Using South Africa as a case study, one third of all the officials responsible for EIA review and decision-making (referred to in this paper as the “regulator”) were surveyed to identify their perceptions of the benefits of EIA, and their ideas on how to bridge the gap between potential benefits and realised benefits. The paper contributes suggestions for the analysis of benefits in a sustainable development context, and identifies some additional benefits currently missing from the literature. In a South African context, the key potential and realised benefits as perceived by regulators are the protection of biodiversity, public participation, access to information, mitigation of environmental impacts, and legal compliance and enforcement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106360
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Early online date8 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • benefits of EIA
  • sustainable development
  • perceptions
  • regulators
  • quadruple bottom line
  • Regulators
  • Benefits of EIA
  • Perceptions
  • Quadruple bottom line
  • Sustainable development
  • RISK

Cite this