the insufficient definition of the term ‘environment’. The debate within the German literature has already been highlighted in Chapter 5. Although the term ‘environment’ is interpreted as encompassing bio-physical and socio-economic aspects by the broader literature (e.g. Devuyst, 2000; Morris and Therivel, 2001), the inadequate consideration of these aspects within international EIA practices indicates that the definition of the ‘environment’ is also interpreted differently (Glasson and Heaney, 1993). But it is the integrated and interweaving way of considering the three pillars of sustainable development, if environmental planning and managing for sustainability is the aim (Bond, 1995; DRL, 2002). As a compromise, the “greening” of sustainability is proposed by the survey respondents and the broader literature, where ecology is not only one part of it, but has a leading function in order to accentuate more adequately the environmental aspects (DRL, 2002). The survey participants do not perceive the federal nature of Germany (i.e. the 16 Länder) as a reason for quality differences between particular EIAs, and thus differences in its effectiveness to promote sustainability. Instead, they outline the differing knowledge of EIA practitioners as a reason for ineffectiveness, due to the lack of EIA “standards”. One, already mentioned, example of this issue is the consideration of indirect, cumulative and long-term impacts. Although guidance exists (e.g. Runge, 1996; Gassner and Winkelbrandt, 1997; TÜV Rheinland, 1990), the performance of EIA concerning these impacts is perceived as ineffective. This is also recognised in the broader literature, where the lack of a consistent conception of what, say, cumulative effects actually are, the lack of appropriate processes through which they can be assessed, and the fact that their assessment is inherently difficult, are regarded as the main reasons for their ineffective consideration (Piper, 2000; Cooper and Sheate, 2002). Therefore, environmental or sustainability standards within EIA are demanded by the stakeholders to quantify an effective promotion of sustainable development and to establish a baseline against which each EIA process can be evaluated. In consequence, the
Cordula Nieslony Discussion 41 process would be comparable and transparent, and an exchange of experiences would be possible. Within this research, it was intended to address this issue by providing a SAT against which the EIA practice can be compared and assessed, and which can function as an orientation aid. Herewith, the criteria given were held more generally in consequence to results of previous studies, where more detailed criteria were not suitable in practice. Although general criteria seem to be advantageous to achieve practicality and flexibility over time, as the positive results of the field test may indicate, there might be the criticism that they are not sufficient in translating the “official” sustainability principles such as defined by the Rio Declaration. As already emphasised, the exact translation was not the prime aim of this approach in designing a SAT, but the practicality, relevance and broad acceptance by the EIA stakeholders.
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