Transformative effectiveness: Evaluating how EIA may transform stakeholders’ frames of reference to deliver strong sustainability outcomes

John J. Loomis (Lead Author), Alan Bond, Maurício Dziedzic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


The principal aim of environmental impact assessment (EIA) is to foster sustainable development. Sustainability can be conceived along a ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ continuum, in which the latter holds that substitution of natural capital is severely limited, and evidence suggests that weak sustainability prevails in decision-making supported by EIA. Therefore, based on the assumption that strong sustainability is the required goal to protect biodiversity and mitigate future climate change, the aim of this paper is to establish the concept of transformative effectiveness to better evaluate how EIA can foster the transformation of stakeholders’ frames of references towards strong sustainability. The EIA systems of the US, EU, and Brazil were analyzed to identify the implicit and explicit drivers towards transformative change to a strong sustainability goal. A literature review of transformative change within impact assessment was used for identifying the necessary changes that need to come from both within policy actor networks and from the wider social-ecological-technological system in which EIA operates. From this, a new dimension of transactive effectiveness is characterized that can help to evaluate the extent to which EIA practice is transforming towards strong sustainability as a goal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date21 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • strong sustainability
  • environmental impact assessment
  • transformative learning
  • social learning
  • social-ecological-technological systems
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Strong sustainability
  • Transformative learning
  • Social learning
  • Social-ecological-technological systems

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