This issue of Impact Connector focuses on the impacts of Covid 19 in Aotearoa New Zealand. Much is already being written in the media about the short-term impacts of the virus on our livelihoods, services and ways of life. There is also much useful thinking emerging about the longer-term effects: changes to the way we work, travel, shop or recreate and the places where we undertake these activities, not just accounting for the new Covid reality but also other longer-term trends such housing people properly, or adapting to climate change. Less obvious, so far, is discussion about the impacts of measures being put in place to control and manage the effects of the pandemic.
The concept of this issue of Impact Connector is to advance discussion about the longer term impacts of Covid 19 in particular, such as the future of tourism. We also have a particular commitment as an organisation to promote impact assessment of the measures we put in place to mitigate the impacts of Covid19. These measures could include new policies, plans and programmes (ie requiring a strategic level of assessment) or specific projects such as infrastructure developments. In addition, we need to think about what impact monitoring is needed as the recovery proceeds, and how to address mitigation for adverse impacts that do arise.
Impact assessment practitioners can make valuable contributions to these ideas and activities, so let’s start the discussion now. Perhaps the most important measure for impact assessment practitioners to consider up front is the fast tracking of environmental impact assessment procedures for new investments, such as transport infrastructure projects. As Hamish Rennie argues in this issue, the Government’s new fast-track processes and supporting legislation for “recovery” projects will need careful drafting to balance the vital short-term gains of employment generation with the long-term effects on climate change and the environment.
David Bancroft, Executive Director of IAIA, blogs "IAIA believes this is not the time to make hasty decisions to move forward with potentially unwise and unsustainable infrastructure projects which will burden the world’s citizenry for generations to come." He cites a recent survey of impact assessment practitioners that reports their concerns about impact assessment in the aftermath of Covid 19. Of particular concern is the possible loss of key aspects of impact assessment in public participation, communication with stakeholders and the ongoing involvement of affected parties in impact assessment and mitigation. See the blog and some initial survey results.
Also in this issue, Dave Simmons draws on his experience and research in the tourism sector to write about the future of this sector, which has been a hot topic in these early stages of tourism recovery. Dave recognises travel is tightly bound to the problem of Covid and its international spread, and discusses how the sector will require new strategic thinking, which must be backed up by ongoing impact assessment of pre Covid tourism and the plans and programmes they put in place to recover, especially in regional Aotearoa New Zealand.
With this issue 9 of Impact Connector we are encouraging people to write their thoughts about impacts of Covid19 and the process of recovery. We ask for short reports on work you have done, commentary on measures taken or on longer term changes and their effects, with a focus on suggestions for better application of impact assessment. Like Covid 19 and our societal response to it, this issue is dynamic; we intend to add and update papers as they come in, and close this issue later in the year. Please get in touch if you have a contribution to make.