The author assumes that effective Impact Assessment procedures should somehow contribute to sustainable development. There is no widely agreed framework for evaluating such effectiveness. The author suggests that complexity theories may offer criteria. The relevant question is ‘do Impact Assessment Procedures contribute to the “requisite variety” of a social system for it to deal with changing circumstances?’ Requisite variety theoretically relates to the capability of a system to deal with changes in its environment. The author reconstructs how thinking about achieving sustainable development has developed in a sequence of discourses in The Netherlands since the 1970s. Each new discourse built on the previous ones, and is supposed to have added to ‘requisite variety’. The author asserts that Impact Assessment procedures may be a necessary component in such sequences and derives possible criteria for effectiveness.

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Environmental Impact Assessment Review
Department of Public Administration

Nooteboom, S. (2007). Impact assessment procedures for sustainable development. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 27(7), 645–665. doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2007.05.006