Over the years IA has been recognized as a forward-looking instrument that is able to proactively advise decision-makers on what might happen if a pro-posed action is implemented. Impacts are changes that are judged to have environmental, political, economic or social signifi cance to society. Impacts may be positive or negative and may aff ect the environment, communities, human health and well-being, desired sustainability objectives, or a combination of these. Impact Assessment can help us design and implement better policies, plans, programs and projects that will face up to important challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, a growing popu-lation, urbanization, confl icts over increasingly scarce resources, inequities, and new technological opportunities. By critically examining development actions while they are still being conceptual-ized, IA contributes to fostering a balanced and sustainable future, and to shaping, and making better, the society that future generations will be living in. IA has the capacity to magnify the posi-tive eff ects of development by turning problems into opportunities. Informed decision-making provides options for early and smart integration of environmental, social and economic issues; it helps to develop proposals for action, for enhancing opportunities, avoiding risks and mitigating detrimental eff ects.