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Environmental impact assessment of infrastructure projects: a governance perspective

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Environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been promoted as an instrument for preventive environmental management in construction projects, but its performance in safeguarding the environment through influencing project decision-making is questioned. This paper probes the underlying reasons from a governance perspective as an important supplement to the regulatory and technical perspectives. A framework, with process integration, professional governance, and public engagement being its key components, is proposed to analyze the governance arrangements that enable or inhibit the effective functioning of EIA, based on which a comparative study of three infrastructure projects in China, the United States and Finland was conducted. The results reveal that, while the level of process integration and public engagement of EIA determines the degree to which EIA influences project decisions, it is the professional governance that controls the accountability of EIA. The paper has implications on institutionally where efforts should be directed to improve the performance of EIA.
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Keywords: cross-national comparative studies; environmental impact assessment; project governance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Construction Management and Real Estate, School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai, P.R. China 2: School of Science, Aalto University, Aalto, Finland 3: Department of Environmental Management, Peking University, Beijing, P.R. China

Publication date: March 3, 2016

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