- land access
- stakeholder engagement
- social assessment
Socio-economic baseline studies, social impact and risk and opportunity assessments, due diligence exercises, and development of work plans and budgets for pre-feasibility and feasibility studies
The definition of a Social Impact Assessment is:
“The process of analysing (predicting, evaluating and reflecting) and managing the intended and unintended consequences of human environment of planned interventions (policies, programmes, plans and projects) and any social change processes invoked by those interventions so as to bring about a more sustainable and equitable biophysical and human environment” (Vanclay, 2002).
The purpose of an SIA as defined by the IFC (2012) is:
- To identify and evaluate environmental and social risks and impacts of the project.
- To adopt a mitigation hierarchy to anticipate and avoid, or where avoidance is not possible, minimize, and, where residual impacts remain, compensate/offset for risks and impacts to workers, Affected Communities, and the environment.
- To promote improved environmental and social performance of clients through the effective use of management systems
- To ensure that grievances from Affected Communities and external communications from other stakeholders are responded to and managed appropriately.
- To promote and provide means for adequate engagement with Affected Communities throughout the project cycle on issues that could potentially affect them and to ensure that relevant environmental and social information is disclosed and disseminated.
Key challenges, issues and risks that projects face include the following:
- Project permitting legislation in many countries does not require that a comprehensive SIA is prepared leading the importance of social impacts to be downplayed on projects.
- ESHIAs are often fast-tracked to support permitting for rapid project development and this can lead to a sub-standard impacts analysis and the development of social management plans with limited community consultations which fail to meet community expectations.
- SIA practitioners generally do not implement the plans that they develop so there is limited learning from experience and a tendency to churn out generic SIAs with unrealistic social management plans that are often not implemented.
- SIA practitioners often raise the expectations of communities during ESHIA public consultationsas their goal is to get the document passed with minimal objections by local permitting agencies. This can lead to conflict with the company at a later stage when the resources are not there to meet community expectations.There is often limited engagement between the SIA and RAP planning teams resulting in the duplication of data collection and conflicting messages on the project.
The IFC has broadened the definition of SIA in the context of ESHIAs to include a sustainable development component. This ensures that the assessment includes the identification of positive impacts and opportunities for enhancing the socio-economic wellbeing of the people who live and work in the project’s area of influence, leading to the development of a Social Impact Management Plan.
The SIA process therefore should:
- Include local knowledge and values into the design of the project and help decision-makers identify the most socially beneficial course of action for local, regional, and national interests
- Help affected communities and agencies plan for social change resulting from a proposed action
- Bring about a more ecologically, socio-culturally and economically sustainable and equitable environment and promote community development and empowerment, build capacity, and develop social capital
- Ensure that development maximises its benefits and minimises its costs, especially those costs borne by people. A good assessment and management system enables continuous improvement of environmental and social performance, and can lead to better economic, financial, social, and environmental outcomes
- Comply with both national legislation and international guidelines, including lender requirements in order to gain access to funding
- Enable the project proponent to be recognised as a socially responsible organisation and achieve a social licence to operate for all project developments.
In addition to preparing full Social Impact Assessments in the field, Intersocial also undertakes comprehensive social reviews and social due diligence assessments on behalf of natural resource companies and lender institutions.