United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics
Economics and Trade Branch

Towards an International Framework for Integrated Assessment/ Sustainability Appraisal (IA/SA)

23 September 2005

UNEP convened a meeting on "Towards an International Framework for Integrated Assessment/Sustainability Appraisal (IA/SA)", which took place at the International Environmental House in Geneva on 23 September 2005. The meeting discussed the need for harmonizing assessment approaches, consolidating assessment methodologies, and enhancing national capacity to implement integrated assessment. The aim was to achieve consensus among governments and international institutions on the desirability of having such a framework and to establish the components of an initiative to develop the framework.

This meeting took place amidst an increased recognition of the importance of integrating environmental and social considerations in development policies, programmes and projects. Along with this recognition is the emergence of a number of assessment approaches such as strategic environmental assessment (SEA), sustainability impact assessment (SIA), sustainability assessment (SA), and integrated assessment (IA). Although varying in terminology, all these approaches aim to achieve the same overall objective of sustainable development. In this vein and in order to solidify common efforts to achieve this end, it would be useful to come up with a generic framework that builds on the strengths of the various approaches and the associated methodologies. Developing such a framework would also help reduce the confusion from the multiplicity of terminologies and encourage collaborative efforts.

The purpose of the UNEP meeting was to agree on the modalities for developing the framework, decide which relevant institutions should be involved, set up the process to be followed, and propose a clear timeframe.

The meeting was also preceded by a series of three related meetings organized by UNEP's Economics and Trade Branch. The first meeting, held on 19 September 2005, was the Second Meeting of the Network of Institutions for Sustainable Development (NISD). On 20 September 2005 was the Launching Workshop for the Rice Study Reports and Handbook on Agriculture and on 21-22 September was the Second Review Meeting for the current projects on Integrated Assessment and Planning.