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When and Where Is Social Impact Assessment Required, Research Paper Example

Pages: 10

Words: 2632

Research Paper

Introduction

According to Vanclay et al. (2015), Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is concerned with the “people aspect” of developmental changes. SIA empowers communities to fight off social conditions such as inequality and poverty. The Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) produced a guidance document that suggested SIA is a methodological approach whose contribution to development can improve the community’s welfare (Vanclay et al., 2015). In poor countries, communities and individuals that have been affected by development should be empowered because the rates of economic development are usually higher than social development. The disparity of education, high unemployment rates, and social inequality are likely to occur in poor countries (OECD, 2011). Challenges such as corruption, political instability, and extreme poverty usually exacerbate social challenges in developing countries.  Despite the perceived economic growth in poor countries, their populations live in extreme poverty and cannot access basic needs (World Bank, 2012). According to Bremer (2015), countries such as Columbia, Kenya, Indonesia, and Mexico can be categorized as emerging or poor economies.

SIA is closely associated with the social development field, which is concerned with planning for social change. Social development emphasizes the need to improve the wellbeing and welfare of every person in society to enable them to attain their full potential. A society’s success is determined by each citizen’s wellbeing. A nation that wants to be socially developed should invest in its people. A nation should remove all the barriers that limit people to achieve their dreams with dignity. Social development is concerned with the dream that poor people will one day live dignified lives. It is about helping all the citizens to achieve self-sufficiency. SIA can promote social development because it promotes a community’s wellbeing through the dynamic, comprehensive and multifaceted development stages (Bremer, 2015).

According to the IAIA guidance document, all projects in a country should seek to achieve sustainable social development. Sustainable social development is a phenomenon where the current structures, processes and systems can actively support the present and future generations’ wellbeing. This paper analyzes SIA and its role in promoting sustainable social development in poor countries. This paper argues that SIA is a vital determinant of sustainable social development in a poor country. This paper integrates the findings of the case study “When and Where is Social Impact Assessment” by Rabel Brudge and Nicholas Taylor. The case study evaluates the effectiveness of social impact assessment in developed and developing countries. The case study explores the social impact analysis approaches developed by different countries and their respectiveness effectiveness. It provides a history of the spread of SIA and why different countries are considering adopting it as a national policy (Burdge & Taylor, 2012).  It explains why SIA should be implemented in various countries. The case study begins by comparing SIA with Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA).

SIA and Sustainable Social Development

When properly applied, SIA can result in sustainable development in poor countries around the world. SIA’s main aim is to create an economically and socio-culturally sustained environment. SIA promotes capacity building and community empowerment of the local community. It promotes empowerment because it ensures the local community has to consent to a project before it is established. Before creating a sustainable project, the government or private entity have to ensure the community is thoroughly engaged to make them part of the project. SIA ensures that the project being created aligns with the local community’s sustainability demands. Therefore, organizations or projects being established in a community will be responsible for meeting those demands.

It should be noted that SIA does not focus on ameliorating a project’s unintended outcomes. Rather, it provides a proactive stance for better development outcomes. SIA is an opportunity for communities to create development goals and ensure the enhancement of positive aspects of these goals. The enhancement is more crucial than mitigating the harm from the goal’s negative impact. For a poor country to establish sustainable development goals, it will have to develop a project that will ensure positive social development (Esteves et al., 2017). SIA is the tool that will ensure a community achieves positive development. SIA has a proactive stance that enables the projects taken by a community to lead to positive development.

SIA promotes the sustainability of social development by ensuring the economic, social and biophysical impacts are interconnected. A change in any one of the three factors will result in a corresponding change in the value of the other factors. The interconnection between these aspects ensures that the community will not be severely affected by a change in one of them. The interconnection promotes social development sustainability as it integrates the triple-bottom-line in communities’ projects (Esteves et al., 2017). Consequently, the interconnection will make the projects meet the current generation’s needs without affecting the demands of the future generation. SIA is concerned with the concept of cumulative effect. This concept states that a change in the economy has a reciprocal effect on the event and the society.  The concept of cumulative effect provides the framework for the sustainability principle and ensures a project meets both the current and future generations’ needs.

SIA’s Role in Promoting Sustainable Social Development

Social Protection and Poverty Reduction

In a social development dimension, SIA can result in poverty alleviation through stimulating economic development processes. Sustainable Development Goal’s goal number one is to end poverty. Other goals include dimensions such as climate change, employment and proper human settlement. These goals can directly or indirectly lead to the end of poverty. One way SIA can reduce poverty is through promoting the creation of a social protection floor. SIA can encourage the mining and energy sectors to promote society’s wellbeing through contributing benefits such as economic development initiatives and job creation. Social protection floors can also be created through the support of micro-enterprises in specific regions. SIA mitigation focuses on factors such as employment creation in poor countries or communities. According to Midgley (2014), regular employment is a key determinant of social development and the best contributor to social protection. SIA practices advocates for the creation of employment opportunities in poor communities. Skill development initiatives and financing infrastructure development can create a sustainable finance pool for social protection services. A poor country can achieve social development by direct interventions from private companies. Examples of such interventions include subsidization of farm inputs and community-based sanitary interventions. All these interventions are related to social protection floors (Aulump, 2015). SIA provides a direct link between the authorities and the people with particular infrastructural requirements. SIA helps the communities whose human rights have been violated by the unavailability of infrastructure.

Even though SIA can result in social protection and poverty alleviation through infrastructure, some issues have to be considered before it is used. Research by Burdge (2012) showed that SIA could only contribute to sustainable infrastructure through large-scale projects. Private companies may find it difficult to build infrastructures in nearby communities without the support of the government. These companies usually feel that it is the government’s responsibility to build infrastructure and provide sustainability-related. They may only build these infrastructures out of goodwill. According to Holm et al. (2013), SIA can be an effective social protection strategy if a defined framework allows the private sector to assess and identify social impacts in its sphere of duty. SIA’s social performance package entails factors such as benefit sharing, community engagement and social auditing. These factors can contribute to a community’s social protection needs and social development.

Creation of Linking Capital

The study by Burdge (2012) suggests that SIA’s process should include community participation to identify networks that can be used for further interactions. Direct and indirect networks offer ties to resources and people. Such ties may be useful in development efforts. The networks are part of social capital that can contribute to the sustainable social development of a poor country. Social capital defines the norms that can facilitate communal actions. Examples of such activities include the creation of a healthcare facility or hospital. Social capital has three primary forms; linking the capital, bridging and bonding. SIA is involved in the creation of social capital. The core focus of linking social capital is to leverage ideas and resources from institutions outside the community and allow the poor to access the resource that was previously out of their reach (Bijl, 2011). Linking social capital is a critical factor in social development outcomes as it makes the poor communities access services such as healthcare that would have been otherwise outside their reach. SIA has to be harnessed to a mode of linking capital because the poor in the community do not have access to linking social capital.

Enhancing Development Agendas in Poor Countries

According to Hildebrandt (2014), SIA practitioners should use the approach strategically for it to be effective. For SIA to influence development agendas and add value, the practitioners should participate in projects and policy-making in the long term and not treat it as a once-off process (Hildebrandt, 2014). SIA should not only be done on a single project. It should rather be incorporated in broader development situations. The government should use SIA in the local economic planning process. SIA is a planning tool that ensures the government achieve sustainable outcomes. The implementation and evaluation of Sustainable Impact Assessment need cooperative governance to promote social governance. Cooperative governance is a phenomenon where different governmental departments work collaboratively to achieve a common goal (Burdge & Taylor, 2012). Cooperative governance includes partnerships between the private sector, civil society and the national government. SIA practitioners should promote such collaborations and ensure they lead to real positive improvements in the poor communities’ quality of life.

Identification of Social Risks and Contribution to Social Justice

Structural inequality is a major cause of social conflicts and frequent labour strikes. An example of conflicts in emerging economies includes the regular labour of workers in the private sector. Such conflicts often spill over to the neighbouring communities. When mining sector employees’ strike, they may negatively affect the welfare of the hosting communities. The employed people can use labour actions and strikes to express their grievances. According to Alexander et al. (2013), the unemployed can only use protesting as the mechanism of expressing their grievances. SIA can help communities and companies mitigate the social risks associated with such unrest. According to Vanclay and Esteves (2011), SIA should be regarded as a risk management strategy and that the private sector should incorporate SIA in its management framework. A failure to manage social risk can result in loss of lives and damage of property. Alexander (2013) conducted research whose objective was to know the impacts of peaceful protests. His finding was that, in South Africa, peaceful protests always result in disruptive protests. SIA process has a grievance mechanism that can make unhappy or aggrieved community members direct their grievances to the relevant authorities.

Social justice defines a condition where all society’s members have similar social benefits and basic rights. Social justice is also concerned with the equitable distribution of resources. Social justice is a core value of sustainable social development as it ensures the government treats all citizens fairly. SIA can be used to document the community members who cannot access basic needs and the actions that should be taken to ensure they access them. SIA ensures the community’s involvement in the creation

A Framework for Community’s Involvement

SIA is usually motivated by community participation and relations. Most effective SIA is usually conducted at the grassroots to increase the community’s involvement. SIA needs to offer civil society an opportunity to communicate their concerns and give their opinions. Civil society’s concerns can be vital tools for empowering communities. SIA facilitates two-way communication and makes the communities understand issues regarding social development and the role they have to play to promote social development. SIA methodologies entail the use of community participation as a tool for creating an informed community (Mahmoudi et al., 2013). An informed community knows its social rights and the government’s role in promoting development. As a social development’s strategy, community participation makes the people involved in their development. Through SIA, the people can provide their insights on how the community should be developed. In SIA, participants usually explain issues such as social justice and community dynamics that affect them. Stakeholder consultation and community consultation are usually a catalyst for social and community development in regions characterized by disempowered communities that do not have entitlement. SIA adoption of community involvements shows that politics and power play a role in the poor countries development. SIA should include community-based organizations in the participation process because they can be easily accessed within a locality (Aryee, 2014). Community-based organizations can strengthen democracy and ensure that community members play a steering role in their development.

At the community level, SIA practitioners are usually viewed as the poor people’s advocates. For SIA practitioners to be effective in addressing social inequality and managing social change, they should engage with experts and make them give them insights on the methods of promoting social development. SIA sets the framework where the experts conduct future interactions with the community and create active citizenship.

Conclusion

This paper has shown that SIA can promote sustainable social development in a poor country. Poor countries are characterized by high degrees of income inequalities. Income inequalities mean that some people are well-off while others are worse-off than others. SIA is a tool for enhancing social development and promoting the community’s wellbeing. SIA helps the project initiators to enter communities and make the community become part of the project. One useful aspect of SIA is that it encourages community participation in all projects. Community participation ensures that the project initiators do not get their priorities wrong when establishing a company. For example, when a country or community faces high unemployment rates, the project initiators should ensure the projects can absorb as many unskilled people as possible. Employment is among the most effective ways of promoting sustainable social development. This paper has illustrated how SIA results in sustainable social development through analyzing and taking care of the social impacts of a particular project or intervention.

References

[ILO] International Labour Organisation. 2011. Social protection floor for a fair and inclusive globalization. International Labour Office: Report of the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group. Geneva.

[OECD] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2011. Divided we stand: Why inequality keeps rising. Paris: OECD Publishing. doi:10.1787/9789264119536-en.

[OECD] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2011. Divided we stand: Why inequality keeps rising. Paris: OECD Publishing. doi:10.1787/9789264119536-en.

Alexander P, Runciman C, Ngwane T. 2013. Media briefing: community protests 2004–2013: some research findings: Social change research unit. Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg. [Google Scholar]

Aryee, F. A. 2014. The role that Poverty and Social Impact Assessment is presently playing and can potentially play in promoting sustainability in developing countries: The case of Ghana.

Aucamp I. 2015. Social impact assessment as a tool for social development in South Africa: an exploratory study [DPhil thesis]. Pretoria: University of Pretoria.

Bijl R. 2011. Never waste a good crisis: towards social sustainable development. Soc Indic Res. 102(1):157–168.

Bremmer, I. 2015. The new world of business. Fortune171(2), 86-92.

Burdge R, Taylor N. 2012. When and where is Social Impact Assessment required? Paper prepared for the International Association for Impact Assessment annual meetingPorto, Portugal, May

Esteves AM, Franks D, Vanclay F. 2012. Social impact assessment: the state of the art. Impact Assess Project App. 30(1):35–44.

Esteves, A. M., Factor, G., Vanclay, F., Götzmann, N., & Moreira, S. 2017. Adapting social impact assessment to address a project’s human rights impacts and risks. Environmental Impact Assessment Review67, 73-87.

Hildebrandt L, Sandham LA. 2014. social impact assessment: the lesser sibling in the South African EIA process? Environ Impact Assess Rev. 48:20–26

Holm D, Ritchie L, Snyman K, Sunderland C. 2013. Social impact management: a review of current practice in Queensland, Australia. Impact Assess Project App. 31(3):214–219.

Mahmoudi, H., Renn, O., Vanclay, F., Hoffmann, V., & Karami, E. (2013). A framework for combining social impact assessment and risk assessment. Environmental Impact Assessment Review43, 1-8.

Midgley J. 2014. Social development: theory and practice. London: Sage.

Vanclay, F., Esteves, A. M., Aucamp, I., & Franks, D. M. 2015. Social Impact Assessment: Guidance for assessing and managing the social impacts of projects.

World Bank. 2012. FAQs about development.

Burdge, R. J., & Taylor, C. N. (2012, May). When and where is Social Impact Assessment required. In International Association for Impact Assessment Annual Conference, Porto, Portugal.

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