Overview of conference 2012

Dear conference participants and website visitors,

The Nordic-Baltic Impact Assessment conference 2012 was held successfully in early autumn 2012, in Kuressaare, Estonia. The organisers of the conference are tremendously thankful to everyone who participated in the conference – either as a participant, session moderator, or keynote speaker. The input from all of us made the event as rich in content as witnessed in Kuressaare.

The conference showed from beginning to end, right through the countries’ discussion panel that many similar issues are emerging in the Nordic-Baltic IA field. To name one, there seems to be a need to develop the concept of the environment in IA towards sustainability and a broader scope. This includes for example social, health, and gender impacts.

As IA is a relatively young discipline, many countries are currently facing changes in legislation, new types of plans and projects, new environmental issues and other transformations, which altogether mean that IA must and does adapt.

Another issue that came up as current in the region is that of assessing significance and ensuring that only the significant plans and projects are subject to assessment. Finally, follow-up was put on the agenda, as a part of the IA procedure that is receiving less attention that it should, and as something that we need to raise awareness of and practice.

Particular attention must be given to the conference keynotes. Dr Ross Marshall from the Environment Agency of England & Wales had the privilege to open the conference from the keynotes’ side, in many ways setting the framework for the following discussions with his sharp assessment of the state of IA as a whole, visualising the various aspects of IA troubling the minds of many listeners.

Dr Jenny Pope from Integral Sustainability, Australia, in her presentation clarified the concept of sustainability assessment, bridging the field to IA and giving an insight into practices worldwide. There seems to be little doubt that sustainability assessment is one of the topics receiving a great deal of attention in future IA discussions and perspective conferences.

Also a subject deserving more attention than currently given is EIA follow-up, tackled at the conference by Dr Angus Morrison-Saunders from North West University, South Africa and Murdoch University, Australia. His speech reminded all of us the important role of follow-up in EIA, and its potentials as a contributor to sustainable development.

Finally, Dr Rasmus Ole Rasmussen from Nordregio set the discussions into the scene of reality – in the societal processes taking place right now in the Nordic region, and probably witnessable everywhere. This left us pondering with the question whether IA really is trying its best in contributing to sustainability.

Many of these thoughts did not get left behind in Kuressaare, but travelled back home with us. Thank you all for being in Kuressaare. Let’s try to keep up the spirit of cooperation in the field of IA!


Thinking about the future – some plans have already been made. First of all, we have formed the Nordic-Baltic Impact Assessment Centre of Excellence, in order to uphold impact assessment discussions in the region. The future will tell what form the organisation and possible ways of work will take, at least we now have the channel to continue what was started in Kuressaare.

Some rumours of future conferences have also been heard, both Latvia and Finland have been mentioned. Wherever exactly,  we do hope to see you all at the next conference in 2014!