Mainstreaming deliberative principles in Environmental Impact Assessment: current practice and future prospects in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Benham, Claudia F., and Hussey, Karen E. (2018) Mainstreaming deliberative principles in Environmental Impact Assessment: current practice and future prospects in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Environmental Science and Policy, 89. pp. 176-183.

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Abstract

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a highly complex social-ecological system that is under pressure from a variety of human activities, including coastal development for industrial purposes. A 2012 World Heritage Committee review found that the speed and scale of large industrial developments along the GBR coast exceeded the capacity of governments to manage their impacts. Ameliorating the impacts of large developments in the GBR is likely to require changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes that form the centrepiece of Australian environmental legislation. As part of this, environmental managers must find ways to ensure that EIA decisions reflect both best-available science and community concerns. It has been suggested that innovative forms of structured decision making, such as public deliberation, could democratise impact assessment decisions, and could be accommodated within existing EIA processes, but the literature on this question is predominantly theoretical. In this paper, we explore the extent to which participatory and deliberative approaches have been integrated into existing EIA processes, using data from a survey of local residents in an area of the Great Barrier Reef coast undergoing rapid industrial development. We find that current processes provide few formalised opportunities for deliberative engagement, but that the principles of deliberative democracy could provide a foundation for more robust decision making, provided that such processes are part of an adaptive strategy of review over the life of a project, combined with genuine openness on the part of proponents and regulators to accept and respond to community knowledge. We elaborate on this through discussing a series of principles to support the integration of deliberative practices into EIA decision making.

Item ID: 55886
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6416
Keywords: environmental policy; EIA; participatory governance; deliberative democracy; marine environment; World Heritage
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Funders: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australian National University (ANU), Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS)
Projects and Grants: RCS Phyllis Montgomerie Award
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2018 04:23
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160507 Environment Policy @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 100%
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