Towards sustainability follow-up : the Port of Ngqura evaluation
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Sustainability assessment has become more prominent in recent years, in the wake of the general requirement to introduce sustainability thinking into environmental assessment (EA). Although sustainability assessment practice has expanded globally, there has been very little follow-up research on the outcomes of sustainability assessment. The aim of this research is therefore, to conduct sustainability assessment follow-up through the application of the eight sustainability assessment principles described by Gibson (2006). This was achieved by evaluating a particular EIA case study in the South African context, namely the EIA for the development of the Port of Ngqura. An evaluation matrix was developed based on the fundamentals of the eight sustainability assessment principles. The results suggest that sustainability thinking was reflected in the EIA and that six of the eight principles were addressed to some extent however, two of the principles were unacceptable. The best performing principles related to ‘1. socio-ecological system integrity’, ‘6. socio-ecological civility and democratic governance’ and ‘7. precaution and adaptation’. The weakest results related to ‘resource maintenance and efficiency’, ‘2. livelihood sufficiency and opportunity’ as well as ‘8. immediate and long-term integration’. This research succeeded in taking the first steps towards advancing sustainability assessment follow-up, especially within the South African context. The results suggest the following main contributions to knowledge in relation to the main research aim: 1. The research results seem to support those who have suggested that Environmental Assessments in South Africa is, due to our broad definition of the environment, similar to what is internationally understood to be sustainability assessment; 2. There seems to be a clear focus on the social impacts and implications of the particular development, with provided support to the notion that the brown agenda is, as least in the South African context, central to EIA; and 3. The research results suggest that longer term thinking and dealing with the uncertainties it raises remains a constant challenge for EIA. The research concludes by making recommendations for future research.
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