Impact assessment, simply defined, is the process of identifying the future consequences of a current or proposed action.
IAIA is the International Association for Impact Assessment, the leading global network on best practice in the use of impact assessment for informed decision making regarding policies, programs, plans and projects.
IAIA was organized in 1980 to bring together researchers, practitioners, and users of various types of impact assessment from all parts of the world. IAIA involves people from many disciplines and professions. Our members include corporate planners and managers, public interest advocates, government planners and administrators, private consultants and policy analysts, university and college teachers and their students.
One of the unique features of IAIA is the mix of professions represented, which provides outstanding opportunities for interchange: to advance the state of the art and science of impact assessment in applications ranging from local to global to develop international and local capability to anticipate, plan and manage the consequences of development to enhance the quality of life for all. To ensure professional specialty interests are fully addressed, IAIA offers a number of special interest-area sections.
IAIA activities seek to (1) develop approaches and practices for comprehensive and integrated impact assessment, (2) improve assessment procedures and methods for practical application, (3) promote training of impact assessment and public understanding of the field, (4) provide professional quality assurance by peer review and other means, and (5) share information networks, timely publications, and professional meetings.
IAIA members number more than 1,600 and represent more than 120 countries.
As of July 2009, IAIA Affiliates were active in Eastern Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Ghana, Germany, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Ontario (Canada), Portugal, Quebec (Canada), South Africa, Spain, and Western and Northern Canada.
IAIA's first Branch (a group comprised entirely of IAIA-International members), the Washington (DC) Area Branch, was organized in September 2001 and the Ireland-UK branch was formalized in June 2008.
International conferences are held annually. The 2011 conference was in Puebla, Mexico, 28 May – 4 June. Other sites have been Geneva, Switzerland (2010); Accra, Ghana (2009); Perth, Australia (2008); Seoul, Korea (2007); Stavanger, Norway (2006); Boston, Massachusetts, USA (2005); Vancouver, Canada (2004); Marrakech, Morocco (2003); The Hague, The Netherlands (2002); Cartagena, Colombia (2001); Hong Kong (2000); Glasgow, Scotland (1999); Christchurch, New Zealand (1998); New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (1997); Estoril, Portugal (1996); Durban, South Africa (1995); Quebec City, Canada (1994); Shanghai, PRC (1993); Washington, DC (1992); Champaign, Illinois, USA (1991); and Lausanne, Switzerland (1990). We now regularly anticipate 700 or more participants at these events.
Regional special meetings are organized to make information exchange and networking opportunities available to those who might not be able to attend the international conferences, as well as to focus attention to specific issues. IAIA held a special meeting on "International Experience and Perspectives in SEA" in Prague, Czech Republic, in September 2005 and another on "Assessing and Managing Cumulative Environmental Effects" November 2009 in Calgary, Canada. Other special meetings include:
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in IA, Washington, DC (2013)
- SEA Implementation and Practice: Making an Impact?, Prague, Czech Republic (2011)
- Health Impact Assessment, Dunedin, New Zealand (2010)
- Climate Change and Impact Assessment Symposium, Washington, D.C., USA 2010
- Climate Change and Impact Assessment Symposium, Aalborg, Denmark 2010
Training programs are held regularly in conjunction with IAIA international conferences. These range from one day to one week in duration and deal with a variety of impact assessment issues.