The broadening out of environmental assessment to also consider social and economic dimensions poses some unique challenges, not the least of which is understanding exactly what such a process might entail. This paper outlines the spectrum of possibilities and explores the issue of when and how environmental, social and economic considerations can be integrated in sustainability assessment. The integration issue is also relevant to the practice of strategic environmental assessments (SEA). A new way of conceptualising these types of assessment is put forward based on: (i) what is being assessed â the "question" that is being asked; and (ii) what approach is being used â the type of assessment selected from the spectrum of possibilities. The latter ranges from impact minimisation for each of the three sustainability pillars through to sustainability considered as an integrated concept. The combination of the question and assessment approach determines the level, extent and timing of integration of environmental, social and economic considerations that can be achieved. Additional thought needs to be given to who is performing the integration role as well as the nature of a particular proposal or its setting. This approach to thinking about SEA and sustainability assessment is illustrated with examples from Australia and the United Kingdom.
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