Implementing Next Generation Assessment: A Case Example of a Global Challenge

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Impact Assessment, Next Generation IA Components, IA Law Reform, Sustainability Approaches, Canada


IA regime design has evolved significantly over the past 50 years. Current thinking includes a package of next generation approaches such as the incorporation of requirements for regional and strategic IA, the consideration of cumulative effects and alternatives, and the inclusion of sustainability criteria and trade-off rules for decision makers. These suggested changes to IA design largely come from the recognition, through experience, of the weaknesses with current IA laws and regulations and needs to accommodate new understandings, for example about sustainability and complexity. Here, we reiterate the key generic components of next generation assessment that are broadly suitable for application in all jurisdictions with at least moderate assessment capacities, focusing on the necessary process requirements that could be captured in IA law, regulation and policy. Through an illustrative case example of Manitoba, Canada, we show how the components of next generation assessment might be implemented as a package in the context of an existing IA regime. Our application of these principles reveals the value of careful consideration of the current legislative frame as well as needs to cooperate with other jurisdictions. It shows, for example, the importance of experience with using streams of assessment and ensuring meaningful public participation. We conclude that many jurisdictions are likely to find moving consistently to this more comprehensive form of assessment to be a natural progression and that the greatest challenges will probably be in building interjurisdictional cooperation, ensuring good faith application of the sustainability criteria in decision making, and implementing regional and strategic assessments.