Evaluating the Social Impacts of Environmental Change and the Environmental Impacts of Social Change: An Introductory Review of Social Impact Assessment

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [The University of Manchester Library]On: 08 October 2014, At: 15:36Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK</p><p>International Journal ofEnvironmental StudiesPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/genv20</p><p>Evaluating the Social Impactsof Environmental Change andthe Environmental Impacts ofSocial Change: An IntroductoryReview of Social ImpactAssessmentC.J. Barrow aa School of Social Sciences &amp; InternationalDevelopment , University of Wales Swansea ,Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP, UKPublished online: 17 Sep 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: C.J. Barrow (2002) Evaluating the Social Impacts ofEnvironmental Change and the Environmental Impacts of Social Change: AnIntroductory Review of Social Impact Assessment, International Journal ofEnvironmental Studies, 59:2, 185-195, DOI: 10.1080/00207230210922</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207230210922</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. 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Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f M</p><p>anch</p><p>este</p><p>r L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>5:36</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Environ. Studies, 2002, Vol. 59(2), pp. 185195</p><p>EVALUATING THE SOCIAL IMPACTS OFENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE AND THE</p><p>ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF SOCIALCHANGE: AN INTRODUCTORY REVIEW</p><p>OF SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT</p><p>C. J. BARROW</p><p>School of Social Sciences &amp; International Development, Universityof Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK</p><p>(Received in final form 28 August 2001)</p><p>This paper presents an introductory review of social impact assessment (SIA), focusing on itspotential for environmental managers. The origins, value, weaknesses, and principles areconsidered, and the process of SIA is briefly outlined. The SIA process is especially usefulfor those pursuing sustainable development, those interested in natural resourcesdevelopment, urban environments, the potential for and consequences of the relocation ofpeople, biotechnology impacts, or conservation. SIA is still evolving, and is not a perfecttool; nevertheless, it is likely to grow in importance. Some suggested further readingsources are presented.</p><p>Keywords: Social impact assessment; Environmental management; Sustainable development</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>Planners and decision makers increasingly accept that social impacts need</p><p>to be considered along with environmental because:</p><p> They are often closely interrelated; It is a wise response to the growing demand for social responsibility</p><p>(increasingly backed by legislation);</p><p>ISSN 0020-7233 print; ISSN 1029-0400 online # 2002 Taylor &amp; Francis LtdDOI: 10.1080=00207230290015487</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f M</p><p>anch</p><p>este</p><p>r L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>5:36</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p> It can improve environmental management and the quest for sustainabledevelopment.</p><p>Social impact assessment (SIA) runs parallel with, overlaps, or is used</p><p>by: environmental impact assessment (EIA); risk and hazard assessment;</p><p>technology assessment; project, programme and policy monitoring and eva-</p><p>luation; and a number of other planning and management fields. (The</p><p>Author has recently published an introductory review: Barrow, 2000, see</p><p>Suggested Further Reading.) Governments, funding agencies and non-</p><p>governmental organisations (NGOs) seek to improve development efforts</p><p>by trying to establish likely impacts in advance, so those which are un-</p><p>wanted can be avoided or mitigation and contingency measures can be</p><p>put in place. Social and socio-economic problems cause misery, waste</p><p>money, and hinder efforts to establish stable governance vital for satisfac-</p><p>tory environmental management. In an increasingly crowded world, SIA</p><p>is vital for the avoidance of human problems, which often lead to environ-</p><p>mental damage.</p><p>SIA is an evaluative process that uses descriptive and analytical tools,</p><p>often derived from the natural sciences, economics and planning as much</p><p>as the social sciences. The public, planners, lawyers, engineers, resource</p><p>developers, conservationists, and many others come into contact with</p><p>SIA, especially those dealing with large-scale mining, highway develop-</p><p>ment, dams, and other large projects or policy changes.</p><p>SIA, like EIA, should be anticipatory; i.e. undertaken at the earliest</p><p>stages of planning before decisions have been made. When this is the</p><p>case SIA has the potential to help determine the optimal course of action</p><p>and to reduce the risk of unwanted (perhaps difficult to cure) impacts</p><p>this is the best approach for environmental management and sustainable</p><p>development. In practice it is often started when a proposal has been se-</p><p>lected, and so is less powerful. Sometimes SIA is applied retrospectively;</p><p>this can still be valuable for improving resource exploitation and conserva-</p><p>tion strategies; an assessment can give a clearer idea of how exactly the pro-</p><p>cess of damage proceeds so that decision makers, rather than make do with</p><p>vague ideas about encroachment on reserves, illegal logging, etc., can for-</p><p>mulate policies likely to work. Retrospective SIA can add to hindsight ex-</p><p>perience and understanding of how change takes place.</p><p>There are two ways in which SIA can be adopted, either: as an integral</p><p>part of planning, decision-making, and monitoring; or as a bolt-on</p><p>186 C. J. BARROW</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f M</p><p>anch</p><p>este</p><p>r L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>5:36</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>extra. For EIA, the trend has been toward the former, and SIA is following a</p><p>similar path, so that now it is becoming an important part of integrated</p><p>environmental management. It is not enough for environmental managers</p><p>to assess physical impacts, they must also consider social, cultural, and</p><p>socio-economic issues which are often crucial. Environmental managers</p><p>seeking to understand and manage natural resources need to be aware of</p><p>social institutions, social capital, property rights, peoples capabilities,</p><p>needs, fears and aspirations; SIA can furnish this information. Social capital</p><p>comprises the abilities, traditions and attitudes, which help ensure a group</p><p>of people will support each other, respond to challenges (including environ-</p><p>mental changes) in a constructive manner, and innovate. In many situations</p><p>social capital has been damaged or lost, is being eroded, or is at risk. People</p><p>who lack social capital may be very differently affected by the same envir-</p><p>onmental conditions than those who have it. SIA can provide information,</p><p>which indicates whether environmental degradation will occur, or whether</p><p>conservation efforts or sustainable development efforts will work.</p><p>Although some anthropologists would claim much earlier origins, the</p><p>expression social impact assessment began to be used around 1973 during</p><p>feasibility studies for the Trans-Alaska (oil and gas) Pipeline. The 1969 US</p><p>National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) contained a clause calling for</p><p>federal agencies to make integrated use of the natural and social sciences</p><p>when preparing environmental impact statements (EISs). In 1973 and</p><p>1978 the US Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued guidelines</p><p>to improve preparation of EISs, which stressed all impacts on the human</p><p>environment, including social, were to be considered. The 1978 CEQ</p><p>Guidelines in effect provided a legal foundation for SIA in the USA,</p><p>although it was not specifically mandated.</p><p>SIA in the USA came into the limelight in 1983 when the US Nuclear</p><p>Regulatory Commission undertook an impact assessment before re-opening</p><p>the Three Mile Island nuclear reactors, the radioactive leak had forced eva-</p><p>cuation and caused much local concern. A citizens group legal action</p><p>forced the consideration of social and psychological impacts; otherwise</p><p>the EIS would have been restricted to physical impacts. Further progress</p><p>was made in 1985 when the Northern Cheyenne Tribe fought a court action</p><p>against the granting of a large federal coal exploitation lease because the</p><p>EIA had included virtually no coverage of social, cultural or economic</p><p>impacts on them. The Tribe won their action, preventing the mining.</p><p>There have subsequently been a number of cases where indigenous peoples</p><p>SOCIAL IMPACT 187</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f M</p><p>anch</p><p>este</p><p>r L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>5:36</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>or citizen groups in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and else-</p><p>where, have reacted to development proposals with demands for SIA. For</p><p>example, in Canada the 19741978 Berger Commission Inquiry into the</p><p>social, economic and environmental impacts of the proposed Mackenzie</p><p>Valley Pipeline (to convey oil and natural gas from beneath the Beaufort</p><p>Sea in the Arctic to British Columbia and Alberta, crossing lands inhabited</p><p>by ca. 30,000 Native Peoples) included in-depth hearings in villages (in</p><p>local languages), and granted funding to support the Native Peoples to</p><p>make their case. The Inquiry had considerable impact on natural</p><p>resources development, helped establish the value of SIA, and taught the</p><p>lesson that it must genuinely involve local people.</p><p>The US Agency for International Development (USAID), Americas over-</p><p>seas aid agency, issued guidelines for something similar to SIA in 1975so-</p><p>cial soundness analysis to check on proposals. By the mid-1980s the World</p><p>Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and increasingly other aid</p><p>agencies required EIA and SIA before funding development projects.</p><p>In 1981 the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) was</p><p>founded, providing an important forum for the exchange of EIA, SIA, tech-</p><p>nology impact assessment, and hazard and risk assessment news, views and</p><p>research findings. The IAIA now plays a central role in the promotion,</p><p>improvement, and regulation of impact assessment, including SIA,</p><p>world-wide; and can be reasonably described as the main professional</p><p>body (see Suggested Further Reading, Internet Sites).</p><p>THE CHARACTER, PRINCIPLES AND AIMS OF SIA</p><p>SIA draws on over three decades of theoretical and methodological devel-</p><p>opment to improve foresight of future change and understanding of past</p><p>developments. It is difficult to agree upon a precise definition of SIA, or</p><p>a universally accepted list of its aims, and it is a field, which is still evol-</p><p>ving. However, the following should be acceptable to most practitioners:</p><p> A social impact is a significant or lasting change in peoples livesbrought about by a given action or actions.</p><p> SIA is a process for systematic assessment of such changes; it should beanticipatory, it aids understanding, planning and (so far not often</p><p>enough) policy making; it is iterative, i.e. adding depth and detail as it</p><p>proceeds through its successive stages.</p><p>188 C. J. BARROW</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f M</p><p>anch</p><p>este</p><p>r L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>5:36</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>Guides to SIA were published thick and fast between the late-1960 and</p><p>mid-1980s; unfortunately, many were cookbooks which did little to</p><p>improve theory or methods. Retrenchment after the late-1970s led to a</p><p>shift to more reflection and research on methods, approaches and theory,</p><p>in contrast to the often hurried and sometimes shoddy consultancy of the</p><p>previous decade. Different conceptual frameworks shape the approach</p><p>adopted for SIA, although all share a broad similarity and some common</p><p>elements. Often the SIA focus is on the community because it is the</p><p>level at which the costs and benefits of change are most acutely felt. The</p><p>community also offers a manageable unit and some assessors work with</p><p>those active in community development. The opposite conceptual orienta-</p><p>tions of SIA are: politicalthe acceptance that the assessment is value-</p><p>laden and seeks to empower locals; and the technicalthe gathering of</p><p>empirical data to give expert judgement as objectively as possible.</p><p>So far, SIA has mainly been applied at project-level, i.e. with a site-</p><p>specific and limited time-span focus. Until recently widespread uncer-</p><p>tainty, paucity of reliable data, and the lack of knowledge, meant that</p><p>assessors found it easier to cope with small-scale and short-term issues.</p><p>SIA, like EIA, has tended to dwell on negative (unwanted) impacts,</p><p>although it can also predict positive (beneficial). SIA should go beyond</p><p>anticipating possible impacts to suggest development alternatives to</p><p>avoid, reduce or mitigate problems and maximise benefits. It can also</p><p>play a crucial role in shaping ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and</p><p>may also be a means for public involvement and empowerment, and</p><p>for improving the accountability of planners and administrators; a</p><p>means to extract useful information from locals; and a way to solicit</p><p>public opinion on proposals, alternatives, trade-offs, etc.</p><p>SIA can be a research technique, often ad hoc in approach; or a techno-</p><p>cratic planning or management tool; or a policy instrument shaped by</p><p>agreed laws and framework for application; or as a means of ensuring par-</p><p>ticipation or even the empowerment of people in the development process.</p><p>SIA aims to be multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary, usually using</p><p>a combination of objective and subjective assessment and ethical judge-</p><p>ment. It is often treated as a subfield of EIA, but if EIA and SIA are</p><p>laid out as a spectrum, then they are extremes, each clearly distinct in</p><p>terms of approach, methodology and techniques, background of practi-</p><p>tioners, and literature; however, there is also a great deal of overlap.</p><p>There is clearer separation in historical terms, EIA and SIA having had</p><p>SOCIAL IMPACT 189</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f M</p><p>anch</p><p>este</p><p>r L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>5:36</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 20...</p></li></ul>