Guest post by IAIA Board Member Myungjin Kim.
The Nature We Want and IAIA
Seeing plants, animals, and landscapes in the mountains is an important part of my life. Last year I climbed over 100 mountains with a trekked route of about 1300 km.
Just before IAIA16, I joined some IAIA colleagues at Mt. Ibuki in Japan. At the peak, I spotted a red fox, a Class I endangered species in my home country of Korea (where one can only see it at a zoo). They are likely disappearing because of poaching, habitat destruction, and excessive rodenticide use. In Korea 24 foxes have been introduced artificially since 2012, but it has been difficult for them to adapt and live in nature.
Later that month, I spotted a musk deer during a trek to Everest Base Camp. This species is also endangered; the musk produced by the males is in demand for the manufacture of perfumes and medicines, and the illegal market for these creatures runs in the tens of millions of US dollars in Nepal. I hear the Nepal government now tries to protect the musk deer with a highly trained guard, but numbers continue to decrease around the world. Only one musk deer has been spotted in Korea in recent years, where it was noticed by a sensor camera in the DMZ (demilitarized zone) in 2010.
Plants and animals cannot survive destructed nature – it is our duty to preserve it. Nature may refer to the general realm of various types of living plants and animals as well as the weather and geology of the Earth. In Asian countries, nature has been worshipped and respected by people for centuries. George Perkins Marsh, an author of Man and Nature, argued in 1864 that deforestation could lead to desertification (US EOP, 2011). We now recognize the severity of the global loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems (IAIA, 2002; UN, 2012).
Nature is often the most affected and damaged by human development and desire. Human desire and greed pursue convenience, and activities like road construction, industrial complex development, and urban development disturb nature. And yet destructed nature cannot sustain human life. Impact assessment is a tool to mitigate these activities and make new alternative to protect both nature and humans. But is impact assessment too late? Is sustainable development the answer for the nature we want?
The World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Ortolano, 1997). In 2005 IAIA proposed six guiding principles to promote biodiversity-inclusive impact assessment (IAIA, 2005). Korea’s environmental policy seeks to achieve the harmonious coexistence of its people with their natural communities and believes impact assessment can play an important role in meeting the challenge of a transition to sustainable development (MOE, 2011). To meet this challenge, Korean EIA decision makers and practitioners have developed policies and methodologies to facilitate this transition. For example the Ministry of Environment has conducted three national surveys since 1986 and prepared Ecosystem and Nature Maps in 2007 and 2013 documenting biodiversity changes in terms of vegetation, endangered species, wetlands, and landforms. The Map provides guidance to development proponents and EIA practitioners in the early stages of impact assessment for nature conservation.
This highlights the importance of the conservation of biodiversity, enhancing habitat connectivity, and binding ecosystem resilience. Both Korea and the world are focusing on the importance of nature, and system and methods are being reviewed to help get to the nature we want. Nature happiness is human happiness.
Where does IAIA fit in? IAIA can play role in getting to the nature we want, facilitating tools for achieving sustainable development. IAIA’s recent Strategic Plan reaffirms IAIA’s role as a global network of impact assessment professionals will help in achieving greater impact and influence in the field of impact assessment. As the late Charlie Wolf told us, “The future of IA is the future of IAIA.”
Myungjin Kim works at the National Institute of Environmental Research in Korea and currently serves as a Member of the IAIA Board of Directors.
Do you have thoughts after reading this post? IAIA members, login to join the discussion at IAIAConnect in the Members group.
IAIA, 2002, The Linkages between Impact Assessment and the Sustainable Development Agenda, and recommendations for Actions.
IAIA, 2005, Biodiversity in Impact Assessment.
Ministry of Environment, 2011, ECOREA, 10-17.
Ortolano, L., 1997, Environmental Regulation and Impact Assessment, 32-34.
United Nations, 2012, Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, the future we want, 38-40.
US Executive Office of the President, 2011, Sustaining Environmental Capital: Protecting Society and the Economy, 15-16.
Wolf, C. 2000, the Future of Impact Assessment, IAIA Presidents’ Visions for Impact Assessment: Where will Impact Assessment be in 10 Years and How Do We Get there, 5-24.