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close this bookConducting Environmental Impact Assessment in Developing Countries (United Nations University, 1999, 375 p.)
close this folder9. Emerging developments in EIA
close this folder9.6 Social impact assessment
View the document9.6.1 What is SIA? Why SIA?
View the document9.6.2 Identifying social impact assessment variables
View the document9.6.3 Combining social impact assessment variables, project/policy stage, and setting
Open this folder and view contents9.6.4 Steps in the social impact assessment process
View the document9.6.5 Principles for SIA
View the document9.6.6 TOR for consultants

9.6.1 What is SIA? Why SIA?

Social impact assessment (SIA) is intended to identify and quantify the impacts on human populations resulting from changes to the natural environment. The term "social impact assessment'' was first introduced in 1973 to refer to changes in the indigenous Inuit culture due to the construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline. The technique has now developed as a discipline in its own right and is applied in many countries.

SIA is predicated on the notion that decision makers should understand the consequences of their decisions before they act, and that the people affected will not only be appraised of the effects, but have the opportunity to participate in designing their future.

Social impacts may be taken to mean the effects of an action on human populations that alter the ways in which people live, work, meet their basic needs, and interact with each other. As a minimum, SIA should take into account:

• demographic impacts - including labour force, population shift, employment, displacement and relocation effects, change in population make-up;

• socio-economic impacts - including income and income-multiplier effects, employment rates and patterns, prices of local goods and services, and taxation effects;

• institutional impacts - including demands on government and social service NGOs in areas such as housing, schools, criminal justice, health and welfare, and recreation;

• cultural impacts - including those on traditional patterns of life and work, family structure and authority, religion and tribal factors, archaeological features, social networks, and community cohesion; and

• gender impacts - including the implications of development projects on women's role in society, income-generating opportunities, access to resources, and employment opportunities.

As with impacts on the physical environment, factors of scale, duration, and severity of impacts also need to be considered during SIA.