Changes in a particular state variable have an impact on other aspects of the environment and on the well-being of people. Many of the important impacts can be identified through the experience and knowledge of participants in an IEA.
For example, a change in forest cover for a particular region can have an impact on biodiversity of that region. An impact on biodiversity could mean that a species particularly valuable as an ecotourism resource no longer survives in the area. This could impact the ability of local residents to earn a livelihood based on ecotourism. The loss in biodiversity could also mean that a particular plant species upon which local residents relied for food or medicine resource can no longer thrive.
See Exercise 5.5.1
Sustainable development as a basic guideline for identifying potential impacts of a change in the state of the environment
The sustainable development concept as popularized by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 19872, tells us that economic, social and environmental conditions are inherently interrelated—that is, it is not possible to change the condition of one of the three dimensions without affecting the others.
In addition, the concept of sustainable development tells us that actions to meet our needs today should not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Therefore, as a basic guideline for analysing impacts, sustainable development helps us think in four dimensions: economic, social, environmental and time. It also helps reflect on environment/development linkages.
2 Also known as the Brundtland Commission