Conference Theme

IAIA19: Evolution or Revolution: Where next for impact assessment?
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Center
Brisbane, Australia
29 April 2 May 2019

Training courses: 27-28 April

Evolution sees the gradual development of organizations, practice, and systems from simple to more complex forms. Revolution represents a dramatic and wide-ranging shift to an entirely new paradigm.

The introduction of environmental impact assessment was, in its day, a revolutionary means to ensure consideration of environmental factors in decision-making. Some 50 years later, environmental impact assessment (IA) has evolved to be a substantive broad-based plank in project and policy decision making. IA has shown both flexibility and resilience, its processes being adapted and applied in a wide range of contexts and settings across the world. It has diversified its focus to strategic environmental assessment, sustainability assessment, economic impact assessment, social impact assessment, health impact assessment, and cumulative impact assessment.

The utility of IA is under question on many fronts. IA is not without its critics. It has been attacked by project and policy proponents for impeding development, and by environmental and community interests for failing to meaningfully influence decision making and protect environmental and social values. Both groups criticize it for being costly, overly procedural and political, and question the value it adds to development and environmental outcomes.

IA is generally mandated by statute law. But laws that fail to serve the interests of good governance of communities can become moribund and fail to be administered. IA will change as governments, proponents and communities rationalise competing views about values.

  • Are IA regulations adequate in terms of scope and content, and can they be effective in the future?
  • Is the mandated science-based analytical approach of IA at odds with the broader purposes sought by communities, such as promoting sustainable development, educating and empowering stakeholders, and challenging the normative values of growth?
  • What role can practitioners play in this debate and the ultimate reform of IA processes?

The conference theme is deliberately provocative, inviting delegates to consider IA from different viewpoints. It calls for reflection on the imperatives for change if IA is to be part of another half-century of good practice environmental management. Will it be enough for IA to continue to evolve? Is there a better way to ensure that impact assessable matters are taken into account in project and policy decision making? If revolutionary change is needed, what might it look like?

Conference Topics

Conference topics will allow participants to address questions such as:

  • How can IA meet the challenges of the 21st century?

  • How might evolution or revolution address common and long-standing criticisms of IA such as:

    • • Lack of independence and rigour in preparing documentation
    • • Ineffective community engagement in the process
    • • Poor consideration of cumulative impacts
    • • Limited influence on the political sphere of decision-making
    • • Lack of follow-up to determine predicted consequences and efficacy of avoidance and mitigation measures
    • • Inadequate responses to trans-boundary and global scale threats such as climate change?

  • If revolution is the way forward, who will lead it, and to what end?

  • What purposes are we seeking to achieve through IA?

  • What is done well and can IA be further enhanced?

  • What can we learn from the perceptions and practices of other disciplines?

  • Does the focus of IA need to be narrowed or broadened?

  • Are the different forms of IA evolving on convergent or divergent trajectories?

  • Is IA based on theory or simply process?

  • How can decision making, and political and dispute resolution theory inform the practice of IA?


27-28 April 2019

For 38 years IAIA has been holding annual conference events and training courses all over the world to promote best practices in impact assessment. IAIA pre-conference training courses are presented primarily by IAIA members and are open to all participants.

Official Support

This conference enjoys the official support of Tourism and Events Queensland and Brisbane Marketing.

Important Dates

  • 16 July 2018
    Deadline for session proposals
  • 16 August 2018
    Paper and poster abstract submission opens
  • 1 October 2018
    Preliminary program posted
  • 19 October 2018
    Deadline for submission of paper and poster abstracts
  • 21 November 2018
    Authors notified of paper or poster acceptance status
  • 25 January 2019
    Registration and payment deadline for presenters, session chairs, and all individuals to be listed in the final program and proceedings

    Early bird registration deadline
  • 29 April 2019
    Deadline for draft papers
  • 5 April 2019
    Final registration deadline
  • 26 June 2019
    Deadline for revised papers

General Discussions

There will be opportunities for wide-ranging discussions covering general IA topics and the work of IAIA's special-interest Sections, including:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • Earth resources extraction and processing
  • Linear infrastructure
  • Biodiversity and ecology
  • Arctic and Antarctic continents
  • Cultural heritage
  • Protected areas
  • Natural disasters and conflict
  • Corporate stewardship and risk management
  • Regulation and governance
  • Community engagement
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Strategic impact assessment
  • Social impact assessment
  • Health impact assessment
  • Cumulative affects assessment
  • Impact assessment, 'big' data, and synthesis
  • Drone technologies and remotely sensed data
  • Capacity building in impact assessment

About Your Host

  • Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand Inc.

    Founded in 1987, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) is the peak self-governing professional association for environmental practitioners in Australia and New Zealand.

    It is a membership-based organisation that:

    • Regulates the activities of its membership through a code of ethics and professional conduct
    • Certifies the proficiency of environmental practitioners, including impact assessment specialists
    • Advocates for good practice environmental management
    • Accredits academic training for those seeking to enter the profession; and
    • Publishes a respected academic journal dealing with environmental management.

    Its membership is drawn from all areas of environmental practice, and includes practitioners with industry, government, community and academic careers.

    For more information go to:



  • The koala is not a bear.
  • This arboreal herbivorous marsupial (Phascolarctos cinereus) is widely identified with Australia, and is the official animal emblem of Queensland. Found in eucalypt woodland areas along Australia's east coast, the species is listed as 'Vulnerable' by the IUCN, and it is protected under national and state legislation.  Across its range, its habitat is being lost through encroaching development, and individual animals are at risk of dog attacks, disease and motor vehicle strikes.
  • For indigenous Australians, the koala was a source of food and associated with traditional stories.  It is also an endearing character in contemporary Australian children's stories and humor.
  • The koala's conservation status, and the potential for development to destroy its habitat, make it a particular focus of impact assessments.
  • It is a fitting choice as the logo for this conference.

Program & Technical Visits

In addition to conference sessions, training courses, and special meetings, we are planning a range of technical visits that will involve learning and laughter as we introduce visitors to this beautiful part of Australia. Potential visits include:

  • Great Barrier Reef: meeting the challenges of tourism, industrial, and port development in a World Heritage Area
  • North Stradbroke Island: transitioning a community from mining to ecotourism and conservation
  • Brisbane Air and Sea Ports: major infrastructure development, sustainability and environmental offsets
  • Gold Coast: urban development, environmental management, and the legacy of a major sporting event
  • Fraser Island: mining rehabilitation, ecotourism, dingoes and cultural heritage in a World Heritage Area
  • Darling Downs: coal mining and coal seam gas, water management and mine closure planning
  • Brisbane River: koalas, floods, urban development in the context of catchment management

About Brisbane and Australia

About Brisbane and Australia

Australia is a country that inspires the imagination and evokes images of strange animals, beautiful beaches, outback landscapes, welcoming people, and a laid-back outdoor lifestyle.

Brisbane, the river city and capital of Queensland, is a bustling international metropolis. In the heart of the city, clustered on the south bank of the river, is the conference venue and the Brisbane cultural precinct containing internationally renowned visual and performing arts venues, and the Queensland Museum and Science Centre.

Journey on the ferry across and along the sinuous river to discover the business heart of the city, the University of Queensland, and the Queensland University of Technology with "The Cube,"one of the world's largest interactive digital learning spaces dedicated to engaging and inspiring the next generation of thinkers and doers. Follow the river to Moreton Bay, a Ramsar wetland and habitat for dugong, turtles, and migratory wader birds.

The warm days and cool evenings of early autumn make dining out in Brisbane an especially enjoyable experience. Hire a bicycle and cycle the riverside boardwalks. Watch nightly as the "flying foxes" (fruit bats) wing their way among the city buildings to their feeding grounds.

Like the river that embraces the city, Brisbane and its people will embrace you and make you welcome. There is no shortage of things to do in this friendly and accessible city. A city that is the jumping off place for five of Australia's World Heritage Areas and the famous "outback,"and only 80 km from the surf and beaches of the Gold Coast, host city for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Make your participation in IAIA19 the opportunity to discover more about Australia, this large and diverse continental island.