11 June 2013


by Rabel J Burdge and C. Nicholas Taylor

The purpose of  this paper is to identify those parts of the world where social impact  assessment is required and what organizations, institutions and laws there are in place to carry out and enforce SIA practice.   Some conclusions are drawn about expanding SIA practice. To accomplish this purpose we contacted practitioners in  countries where large mineral,  water, petroleum and construction related projects were likely to take place or countries with  private sector companies doing the  exploration  and development. We asked the following questions:

1. Does your country, state, province or other governmental unit have legislation that requires
Environmental Impact Assessments—e.g., NEPA style legislation?

2. If they answered yes to the  first question…” is there wording in the legislation to include the
social impacts on the human environment or human communities?”

3. Are there specific agencies or governmental organizations that have a  specific requirement
to do social impact assessment? If yes, which ones?
If there are specific requirements to do social impact assessment,  how are the regulations or
requirements enforced, e.g., terms of references, to obtain a permit or by legally enforceable
legislation? Many countries now have some type of environmental policy legislation modeled after the original  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) legislation. We also received responses from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Community (EU), the  Canadian International Development Administration (CIDA)  and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).There are other reasons beyond a legal or institutional mandate to undertake SIA.  These include emerging approaches  (a business case) aligning SIA with  corporate social responsibility to minimize social risks and increase project social benefits,  including the  social license to operate and Free and Informed Consent based in human rights frameworks (Vanclay and Esteves, 2011). 

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