An application of Theory of Change to EIA system evaluation
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is internationally one of the most widely adopted policy implementation instruments, introduced in more than 180 countries world-wide South Africa has a long and proud history of environmental assessment practice dating back to the 1970s. Therefore, periodical system evaluation is considered a key component of any well-functioning EIA system, with various system evaluations having been conducted internationally. EIA is sometimes seen as a barrier to development due to its requirements for rigorous participatory processes and scientific investigation which may often be viewed as time-consuming and expensive. There is also a general and ongoing concern about the efficiency, quality and effectiveness of the EIA system. To this end this research had as its aim the application of the Theory of Change method of evaluation to a specific EIA system, in this instance the South African system. The research identified, through the application of the Theory of Change method, seven key evaluation questions which would inform the system evaluation with the view to making recommendations. The key evaluation questions were answered through the evaluation of identified key performance indicators, resulting in recommendations being made for improvement of the South African EIA system.