Opinion of tools
Name of the tool
Social Impact Assessment
Positive comments about the tool
• SIA helps us to understand how a proposed action will change the lives of persons in communities and regions.
• SIA’s alert planners, decision-makers and project proponents to changes in the primary and secondary zones of influences.
• The SIA process includes suggestions for alternatives to the proposed action as well as enhancement and mitigation measures.
• A well done SIA will produce qualitative and quantitative indicators of social impacts that decision-makers and people can understand.
• SIAs are that it can predict the likely negative (unwanted) impacts of a proposed development in time to allow these to be avoided or mitigated
• SIA helps to ensure that positive impacts (benefits and opportunities) are not missed or under-exploited.
• SIA discloses the impact of previous developments, so that any information already gleaned can be collected and fed into future planning, or used to assist current conflict mediation.
Negative comments about the tool
• SIA is poorly funded compared with EIA.
• There is a lack of standardisation of approach.
• SIA has not been as widely adopted as EIA, possibly because:
1. There has been minimal consensus as to the definition and even label for SIA
2. still need better models to understand the casual linkages between biophysical, land-use, financial and subsequent social impacts
3. SIA is not required in the planning/decision process
• SIA is criticised for being ‘a theoretical’, descriptive and insufficiently explanatory.
• It is difficult to repeat an SIA study and get reasonably comparable results. This is because the theoretical basis has been poor.
• SIA can sometimes produce misleading or imprecise findings.
• SIA is less likely to deliver clear, concise, relatively straightforward recommendations than EIA, because social issues can be complex and difficult to address.