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- What Is An Impact Assessment And Why Is It Important?
- What is Impact Assessment ?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Click here to see examples. For most small businesses, the Assessment normally takes between hours to complete a rough baseline. The time involved largely depends on the size, age, and complexity number of operating locations of your company.
Impact assessments are commonly associated with businesses but in fact they are applicable to all areas of life. In short, an impact assessment will look at what possible outcome a specific action can have and how to minimize or prevent any negative outcomes. A good example of this is when shipping items. You can evaluate the shipping procedure to find what is known as damage indicators.
What Is An Impact Assessment And Why Is It Important?
The SIA process is approached by mostly using the cause-effect model backed by a variety of data collection tools like expert opinion and community consultations.
The realisation of the benefits of SIA depends on a well organized consultation process and the implementation of mitigation measures supported by a clearly defined conceptual framework and well established institutions. Introduction The emergence of sustainable development has moved the true benefit of development beyond only economic gains to include things such as social, environmental and trans-generational viability.
Assessing the cumulative impacts of projects helps in ensuring the balance between economic, social, environmental and trans-generational benefits whiles putting in measures to minimise the cost.
The increase in the demand for a variety of services and facilities by humanity which is influenced by technological advancement and rapid population growth necessitates government and policy makers throughout the world to respond to the service needs of their citizenry.
The implementation of programs and projects to meet these needs normally include development projects such as construction of dams, high ways and mining activities whose social impact could be either positive or negative. There is therefore the need to assess the impact of these activities during and after their implementation to minimise the cost to the society whiles maximising the benefits. It ensures that development maximises its benefits and minimises its costs by putting mitigation measures in place to deal with adverse societal impact whiles at the same time ensuring the overall sustainability of the project.
Cumulative effects are the combined impacts of a single activity or multiple activities. The individual impacts from a single development may not be significant on their own but when combined with other impacts, those effects could become significant Cooper, Some of the effects may be existing already and when combined with the effect of newly implemented projects will result in cumulative effects.
SIA could be seen to encompass Cumulative Impacts based on the scale of impacts. The purpose of this paper is to review the various approaches, importance, barriers and policy implication of SIA. The research was conducted by reviewing some journal articles on SIA and relating it to its approach, potentials and challenges.
A content analysis of a variety of journals which were mainly selected from library and internet sources was done and those that had the relevant information for this review paper was selected.
Approach and Method The impact assessment process is approached either as an information generating activity using principles of research design and scientific analysis or as a planning tool. There is a relationship between social aspects of development and the environmental impacts of proposed project therefore conducting both SIA and EIA together helps to establish the linkage between the impacts of the environment on society. The dominance of EIA over SIA when they are conducted together adversely affects the ability of mitigation measures to address social impacts of the projects.
SIA is a hybrid, an offspring both of science and of the political process and its lineage is ancient, but its emergence is recent. The historical origin of SIA has affected its approach and techniques which is both human centred and scientific, quantitative and qualitative Freudenbur, The complex nature of the societal structure reflects in the concept, approach and the techniques used in undertaking SIA.
This therefore implies that, the methods and techniques used for the SIA process must be simple enough for the community to understand and participate while at the same time establishing rigour and validity to improve the credibility of the process outcome.
The difference emanates from the fact that conventional policy analysis tools like cost benefit analysis employs the use of only quantitative methods but there are aspects of the social structure that cannot be quantified.
The cause-effect relationship is central in undertaking cumulative social impact assessments. The sources of the social impacts are identified by critically and participatorily assessing the multiple activities that will adversely or positively affect the society.
Based on the identified sources, linkages are established and the cumulative social effects predicted and mitigation measures put in place to minimise the cost and optimise benefits.
This has been depicted in Figure 1 below. Figure Source: Cooper, The conduct of SIA is based on the collection of reliable data to help access public opinion, identify sources of effects, establish linkages between the various effects, predict and propose mitigation measures. Community consultation is central to every SIA because it helps to gather the opinion of the public on the proposed project and assess its potential effect on the public especially vulnerable groups.
The opinions of experts are also used at all the stages of the process as it helps guide the technical aspect of the process and offer policy directions. The entire process used to be dominated by the opinions of experts but the increasing realisation on the importance of community participation is reducing the role of the experts in SIA.
The SIA was more technocratic in the sense that there was a strong, almost total focus on the use of quantitative data, written information sources and expert observations. A brief description of each of the tools used for SIA has been presented in Table 1. Information presented in a checklist for Nature of cause-and effect tabular format.
Capacity exist in the environment. Projects can be of impacts against Not always able to establish Analysis assessed in relation to the carrying capacity thresholds. Modelling An analytical tool which enables the Quantifies cumulative Often requires quantification of cause-and-effect effects large investment relationships by simulating environmental Geographical and of time and resources conditions.
Some of the tools for conducting SIA has been presented in Figure 2 categorised broadly based on scoping, impact identification and evaluation techniques. The U. Countries throughout the world have various legislative instruments guiding their SIA process with Canada for instance having the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and each province having its own Environmental Assessment Act making provisions for SIA.
In the U. SIA process relies on efficient institutional and legislative instruments. Most countries have within their legislation the basis for doing SIA but fewer countries have accompanying agency regulations and procedures to carry out the assessment Burge, The efficiency of the process therefore differs from country to country based on the institutional structures in place to support the process institutionally and legislatively. These Indicators could be developed using already existing data from secondary sources or a field research which can help generate primary data.
The social indicators provide the framework and serve as the basis for the management of future social impact and assist in the development of management strategies, monitoring and evaluation.
SIA variables point to measurable change in human population, communities, and social relationships resulting from a development project or policy. These include changes in population characteristics, community and institutional structures, political and social resources, individual and family, and changes in community resources Burdge, The communal involvement in the SIA process necessitates social indicators to be less technical and easily understood in order to increase community participation in the entire process.
The development of social indicators during SIA process helps to identify the components of the social structure that will be affected by the implementation of the proposed projects. It may also generally include changes in governance structure, physical, demographic and economic characteristics. The changes in demographic characteristics manifest itself in expected changes in the population patterns either increase or decrease as a result of the implementation of the proposed project, effects on community values, life styles, community identity and community connection.
The implementation of proposed projects can affect the economic structure of the community and this could be assessed by using social indicators like employment and unemployment rates, contribution to the local economy through increases in taxes, income levels and cost of living.
The calculation of the number of jobs to be generated through the implementation of the proposed project should take into consideration not only the total number of people to be employed but also the total number of indigenous people to be employed and those who will be moved out of job.
The changes in land use and infrastructures development are some of the main indicators used in predicting the effects of the proposed project on the physical characteristics of the community.
Figure 3 shows some of the common social changes associated with mining activities. Source: Franks, The unpredictable nature of human behavior and abstract nature of certain aspects of the social structure poses a great challenge to the development of social indicators thus necessitating the use of a mixed methods approach. Social Impact Assessment SIA Process SIA process is an iterative, logical and cyclical process that helps to identify both direct and indirect impacts of proposed project while at the same time providing direction and guidance for policy decision making.
This is followed by the scoping exercise which assesses the relevant social issues and uses it as the basis for the establishment of spatial and contextual boundaries for the proposed project. The final stages of the process involves the establishment of baseline data based on present socio-economic characteristics, assessment and evaluation cumulative social effects, formulation of alternatives and development of mitigation plan and course of actions.
The stages in the impact assessment process are basically the same from the perspectives of various academics and practitioners but it is the implementation process that differs based on institutional capacities, conceptual frame work, level of participation and the relationship between community and expert opinion.
There are divergent opinions on the use of SIA. There is currently debate as to whether SIA is a planning and policy making tool which seeks to gather data and provide expert opinion on social impacts or is a means to promote much more fundamental changes in development approach Barrow, There are also philosophical dichotomies in the SIA process which affects the tools being used, the level of participations and the overall outcome of the process.
Vanclay argues that the International Principles recognizes that the methodology can be applied to events other than planned interventions, such as disasters, demographic changes and epidemics, but the primary intention is the consideration of planned interventions. The US principle in terms of the approach to the preparation of the guidelines relied on expert opinions whiles the International principle involved a wide range of stakeholders.
The differences in philosophical thinking of the SIA and the conceptual approach is a major factor contributing to the dominance of Environmental Impact Assessment EIA over SIA as the latter do not have a clearly defined conceptual framework. Buchan, however presents five ingredients which tend to overlap for a successful community participatory approach: adequate funding; sufficient time; flexibility; willingness to involve the community; and skilled SIA practitioner.
The summary of the stages in the SIA process has been presented in Figure 4. Source: Cooper, Case study- Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board Socio-Economic Impact Assessment This case study offered a different use of SIA as a pre-project assessment tool to a post project assessment tool thus giving community perspective on ways to improve the entire process and address some of the challenges discussed in this review Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board Socio-Economic Impact Assessment, The Mackenzie Valley Review Board was established by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act in as a co-management board responsible for the environmental impact assessment process in the Mackenzie Valley.
The impact assessment process involved an extensive stakeholder consultation to help examine changes in the human environment caused or accelerated by new developments.
The assessment was undertaken by conducting over 50 meetings with approximately people which took place in 13 different communities. The goal was to interact with a wide range of stakeholders including those in the social, economic and cultural sectors. The stakeholders consulted include nurses, social workers, health and social services agencies, interagency committees, economic development officers, renewable resource committees, impact advisory groups, social and cultural institutes, land corporations, drug and alcohol counsellors, community leadership, elders and youth groups Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board Socio-Economic Impact Assessment, The Review Board analysed the views of the community in two main areas which consisted of impact concerns and process needs.
The impact concerns dealt with past, present and future social impacts of projects on communities while the process needs identified with how socio- economic issues are considered during and after the impact assessment process. Impact Concerns The social impacts identified by communities were both negative impacts associated with developments and positive impacts such as increased jobs, increased business opportunities, training and education improvements, and improved local amenities and infrastructure that offer opportunities for their socio-economic wellbeing Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board Socio-Economic Impact Assessment, The socio-economic impact assessment was to help balance these positive and negative impacts when considering the overall significance of development-related change.
The impact concerns raised by a group of high school students who were among the stakeholders for assessment process has been presented in Figure 4. These impact concerns were not different from the concerns of the other stakeholders which acknowledged both the positive and negative impacts. The students identified potential effects of new development on heritage sites due to pressure and completion in the use of resources.
The increase in population as a result of new development will also affect cultural values and put pressure on existing infrastructural facilities especially if new ones are not provided. Source: Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board Socio-Economic Impact Assessment, Process Needs The findings of the Review Board revealed that communities are losing faith in the ability of the assessment process to address their impact concerns due to past and present experiences. The community however saw the process as an important planning tool and therefore gave some recommendations to help improve upon the process.
These recommendations have been presented in Figure 6. Figure 6.
What is Impact Assessment ?
Once production of your article has started, you can track the status of your article via Track Your Accepted Article. Help expand a public dataset of research that support the SDGs. Environmental Impact Assessment Review EIA Review is a refereed, interdisciplinary journal serving a global audience of practitioners, policy-makers, regulators, academics and others with an interest in the field of impact assessment IA and management. Impact assessment is Impact assessment is defined by the International Association for Impact Assessment www. With current or proposed actions, the EIA Review audience assesses how best to evaluate the impacts of policies, projects, processes and products, and how best to make decisions and undertake management activities. The focus of EIA Review is on innovative theory and practice that encompasses any of the above mentioned impacts and activities.
This leads to efforts trying to identify changes in the user's (of science) behavior (doing things differently), competence (doing things better), and.
Frequently Asked Questions
The purpose of this paper is to offer a definition of impact assessment and to discuss some of the implications of this and other definitions. A particular approach to impact assessment is introduced, as developed for use in a variety of library and information service settings and the principles underpinning this approach are described. The importance of impact assessment in a variety of settings is outlined: from school libraries to university researcher support and from public libraries to electronic information services.
Select a CoP through the quick access menu on the left or browse our directory using the following options:. This section provides an entry point into the work of the OECD on Impact assessment of public research including downloadable factsheets. Impact analysis is a component of the policy or programming cycle in public management, where it can play two roles:. To read more about the nature of impact assessment and the challenges around the concept of impact, download the document below.
Environmental assessment EA is the assessment of the environmental consequences of a plan, policy, program, or actual projects prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action. In this context, the term " environmental impact assessment " EIA is usually used when applied to actual projects by individuals or companies and the term " strategic environmental assessment " SEA applies to policies, plans and programmes most often proposed by organs of state.
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