Traditional EIA’s are lost public relations opportunities. Their message of “this is what we expose you to” is rather negative and fails to do justice to the societal benefits of a project. By focusing on impact reduction, each traditional EIA reaffirms the notion that industries are polluting and that increases people’s motivation to ban rather than welcome any new development projects.
It is time to go back to basics. Remember that the main purpose of environmental risk assessment is to increase the acceptability of the risk. Reducing levels of pollution is important, but it is not the primary objective. Whether something is acceptable depends on a great number of factors, of which pollution is only one. It comes down to weighing interests and making informed decisions.
The biggest challenge is to overcome the polarization that can occur when weighing interests. Local residents organize themselves increasingly against industrial and other large-scale projects and the associated emotions make it challenging to have objective and factual conversations. In these situations a depolarizing approach to environmental assessment; such as the EM 3.0 approach is necessary.