Environmental Impact Assessment

Elective Course | 2 ECTS | Course: CMM 19

Instructor: Gunnar Páll Eydal

Course Catalog Description

About the Course

The course provides an introduction to environmental assessment. Students are introduced to key concepts and methods used in both Environmental Impact Assessment for projects and Strategic Environmental Assessment for plans, programs and policies. The focus is on practical application and challenges of environmental assessment with examples of real ongoing local cases. A short field trip in Ísafjörður is included in the course.


Gunnar Páll Eydal graduated in 2004 with a master´s of Resource Management from the School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University. In 1997, Gunnar graduated with a B.Sc in Geology from the University of Iceland. He specializes in planning and environmental assessment of coastal, wilderness and rural areas. In 1997-2001, Gunnar was a research associate at the Science Institute University of Iceland, Division of Geophysics. In 2005-2006, he taught courses in geology and environmental management at Ísafjörður College. From 2006-2016 Gunnar worked at Eik - planning and environmental consulting in Ísafjörður and from 2016 at Verkís - consulting engineers office in Ísafjörður. Verkís is currently directing several planning projects and environmental assessments in coastal areas.

Gunnar has been a teacher from the foundation of the UW in 2008, and he was also involved in the establishment of the coastal and marine management program in 2007-2008. Furthermore, Gunnar has been involved in spatial planning initiatives with the UW.


The course introduces concepts and methodology related to environmental impact assessments (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA). The course will also review past environmental impact studies, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Special emphasis will be placed on the scientific quality of EIA studies (design and confounding factors) and how authorities comply to regulations and directives. EIA will also be put into the context of the Water Framework Directive and the European Marine Strategy of EU. The course will also explore how to prepare and conduct an impact assessment as well as introduce the theory and methods behind various management systems. The course will also review the rationale behind such management systems as well as their principles, components and use. Different environmental and sustainability management frameworks will be evaluated.

On completion of the course, a student:

  • can recall theoretical and practical aspects of EIA and SEA.
  • can critically assess the quality of EIA studies.
  • can put EIA studies into context of the EU framework.
  • can set up EIA projects under different environmental settings, write reports and recommendations for authorities.
  • has shown ability in organizing and implementing environmental and sustainability management systems.