The triple bottom line and progress toward ecological sustainable development: Australia's coal mining industry as a case study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Resources, 2013, 2 (1), pp. 26 - 38
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© 2013 by the authors. licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. A common goal shared by the world is to achieve well-being for the planet-for this generation and generations to come. The world formalized this common goal when it accepted the concept of ecological sustainable development (ESD) at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and through the adoption of the United Nation's Agenda 21. This paper explores the capacity of New South Wales' planning system to deliver on this shared goal. It does this through an evaluation of the triple bottom line (TBL), as an impact assessment framework, in the context of coal mine development proposals. The evaluation is performed against ESD principles, and draws from the experience of the authors in reviewing a recent coalmine expansion application in New South Wales, Australia. During this review the authors encountered opportunities to improve the impact assessment process. The opportunities identified relate to the process of robust and consistent drawing of impact boundaries and selection of scales (geographic and temporal), in which to conduct an impact assessment. The findings are significant, as they offer a path toward greater discussion around, and realization of, opportunities for achieving development in each TBL domain, i.e., social, environmental and economic.
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