Explaining the political nature of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): a neo-Gramscian perspective

Bond, Alan, Pope, J, Fundingsland, Monica, Morrison-Saunders, Angus, Retief, Francois and Hauptfleisch, Morgan (2020) Explaining the political nature of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): a neo-Gramscian perspective. Journal of Cleaner Production, 244. ISSN 0959-6526

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Abstract

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a mandatory decision-support tool in every country of the world, developed 50 years ago to ensure the consideration of the environmental consequences of development decisions prior to approval decisions being made. Specifically, the aim of developing an EIA system was to make decision-making affecting the environment more accountable, through the use of objective scientific evidence. It remains the project decision-support tool of choice despite considerable research efforts failing to provide convincing evidence that it achieves this aim. Here we explain this apparent paradox by arguing that EIA supports neoliberal agendas by facilitating economic development. We present arguments based on a neo-Gramscian perspective that explains how apparent advances in the practice of EIA are sanctioned because they actually maintain the political nature of the EIA system, which continues to undermine attempts to use evidence objectively. We use a narratives of change approach to support this perspective. We conclude that EIA can only make decision-making more accountable if strategies to depoliticise it are employed, including emphasising substantive outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: hegemony,legitimacy,sustainability,environmental impact assessment (eia),politics,neoliberalism,environmental science(all),decision sciences(all) ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2300
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2019 09:30
Last Modified: 31 May 2020 23:49
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72580
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.118694

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