APPROACHES TO INTRA- AND INTERGENERATIONAL EQUITY IN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA)
Environmental impact assessment (EIA), considered the most practiced environmental management and regulatory tool in the world, is widely used in Canada to assess and manage the effects of proposed projects on the environment. The aim of EIA is to identify and manage the potential impacts of a project on the environment for both the present and future generations, and to guide the decision makers and project developers to achieve sustainability. However, conventional EIA processes have been criticized for considering only the demands of the present generation at the expense of future generations. The reason is that only the preferences of present generations are taken into consideration, while the impacts of environmental actions often affect several generations. Furthermore, there has been limited investigation globally of how intra- and intergenerational equity are understood by project proponents, decision makers and the public, and whether and how this understanding affects project impact predictions or mitigation plans. The purpose of this research is therefore to explore how intra- and intergenerational equity are integrated into EIA processes, with a specific focus on transportation (roads and highways) infrastructure development in Canada, and to identify what opportunities exist to strengthen EIA practices. To achieve the research purpose, an extensive literature review of peer-reviewed journal articles, federal and provincial legislation, policy documents and other relevant literature was completed, followed by a structured document analysis of Canadian Environmental Impact Statements (EISs). This analysis revealed two key insights: first, intra- and intergenerational equity issues need to be developed, standardized and integrated into EIA; second, EIA practices could be more responsive in addressing the principles of sustainability. This research adds new knowledge about the need to address intra- and intergenerational equity in EIA processes to improve understanding of Canadian EIA in relation to multigenerational equity, thereby contributing to better decision-making in EIA across Canada and elsewhere. This research has laid the groundwork for more detailed research to improve the conventional procedural methods in Canadian EIA, as well as EIA in general, with regard to intra- and intergenerational equity. In summary, this research found that to develop EIA practice both environmentally and socially, the first step is to incorporate intra- and intergenerational equity in all sustainability driven assessment.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Sustainability, Intra-generational Equity, Intergenerational Equity, Transportation (roads and highways) Infrastructure Development Sector.
Master of Environment and Sustainability (M.E.S.)
School of Environment and Sustainability
Environment and Sustainability