The complexity and dynamism of today's world calls for tools that can speak to the many dimensions of sustainability and, at the same time, enable practical application.
Assessments in their many forms are designed to bring scientific perspectives to bear on the policy and decision-making process. The need for more credible and policy-relevant assessment is driven by the emergence of increasingly complex and urgent environmental issues that have a direct impact on ecosystems human well-being and represent a threat to economic performance of countries and corporations.
Integrated environmental assessment (IEA) involves a critical and objective analysis and clear communication of data on priority environmental trends and dynamics and their interactions with human well-being and economic development.
When we speak of "integrated," we are referring to assessment that crosses issues; spans scales of space and time; looks forward and back; and includes stakeholder perspectives. An integrated approach is timely as sustainability development is (or may be) increasingly policy-relevant or mainstream, and tools that help us understand the complexity inherent in sustainable development are needed.
In addition to helping us navigate a rapidly changing society, integrated assessment also is also an important precursor for adaptive management and governance. By connecting assessment with policy, information moves beyond pure science and becomes both salient and legitimate to decision-making processes. Inclusion of stakeholder perspectives ensures relevance, another criterion for sound assessment.
In order to move from recognition to implementation, institutions and practitioners need to grow in their capacity to use navigational tools like integrated environmental and sustainability assessments. Our work assists those in a position to implement assessments, primarily at national and regional scales.
Capacity Building for Integrated Environmental Assessment and Reporting
Training programs developed and implemented based on the GEO Resource Book and Training Manual, with the intention of increasing capacity for conducting IEA at the national, regional and ecosystem levels.
Integrated Policy Assessment for Country Environmental Assessments
Two training modules were developed for the World Bank focusing on integrated policy analysis and the use of sustainability indicators in policy assessment.
Environmental Assessments and Saskatchewan First Nations: A Resource Handbook
The resource handbook is intended to provide an overview on environmental assessment and be a helpful resource for communities. The document was developed based on needs identified by community leaders and resource personnel. The goal of the resource handbook is to improve basic understandings of environmental assessment, identify how communities can be involved and where resources can be accessed.
Global Environment Outlook
IISD has been a member of UNEP's Collaborating Centre network on GEO since GEO-1. Besides contributing to the global GEO process and reports, we also contributed to the development of the GEO Data Portal and GEO Yearbooks, and serve as a leading external partner of UNEP on capacity building for integrated environmental assessment and reporting.
Lake Balaton Regional Vulnerability Assessment
In close cooperation with the Division of Early Warning and Assessment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-DEWA), the Lake Balaton Development Coordination Agency (LBDCA), GRID-Geneva and several additional local and international partners, IISD is leading an integrated vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning initiative related to Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe.
Human Development Report + 50
The International Futures project, based at the University of Denver, has established a partnership with Frederick S. Pardee and the RAND Pardee Center for further development and use of the International Futures modelling system, with a focus on the Global Human Condition. Their joint goal is to build and apply the best quantitative support system possible for the study and enhancement of the longer-term future of the human condition.
Review of International Assessments
Given its export orientation and sensitivity to global forces of socio-economic and environmental change, the sustainability and competitiveness of Canadian agriculture requires that external conditions are constantly kept under review. With this purpose in mind, and using agriculture as its reviewing lens, IISD and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada undertook a project to analyze the results of three major multi-year international science assessments.
The European Union-Framework Programme 6 Integrated Project, SENSOR, has been designed to develop science-based ex-ante Sustainability Impact Assessment Tools (SIAT) to support decision-making on policies related to multifunctional land use in European regions. As one of more than 20 partner institutions, IISD is assisting with the development of social indicators to be used in these tools.
China Circular Economy
Our work with the World Bank's Environment and Social Development Sector Unit, East Asia and Pacific Region, and Tsinghua University in Beijing is aimed at developing a system of circular economy indicators. The indicators would track some of the key material stocks and flows of China and help, among others, national strategic planning efforts led by China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).