Introduction. Environmental and social impacts of a proposed project are often closely linked. While impacts on the bio-physical environment have become the primary focus of environmental impact assessment, understanding how decisions may have consequences outside the traditional conception of environmental impacts (e.g., the biophysical environment) is equally important to understand when analyzing potential impacts. Thus, social impact assessment is a tool for project planners and decision-makers to understand the social consequences of a project, plan, or program. Undertaking SIA may also generate benefits for both the affected populations as well as the project proponent. Benefits can include: reduced impact on communities or individuals; enhanced benefits to those affected; avoidance of delays and obstruction; lowered costs; better community and stakeholder relationships; and improved project/activity proposals generated from input via the SIA process1.
SIA is considered an integral part of the ESIA because the human relationship with the environment is considered part of the comprehensive legal definition of “human environment.” The meaning of “human environment” has evolved as a result of court decisions from NEPA-related litigation. These court decisions have clarified what was already in CEQ's Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1500-1508) which states that the "human environment" is to be "interpreted comprehensively" to include "the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment" (40 CFR 1508.14). Agencies need to assess not only so-called, "direct" effects, but also "aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social, or health" effects, "whether direct, indirect, or cumulative" (40 CFR 1508.8)2. In addition, international best practice recognizes the interconnection between environmental and social impacts and the need to account for both in the impact assessment process.
USAID Visions, Strategies, & Policies.
- Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy (2012)
- ADS Chapter 200, Introduction to Programming Policy (Partially revised 2014. Effective date 2012)
- ADS Chapter 205, Integrating Gender Equality and Female Empowerment in USAID’s Program Cycle (Partially revised 2013. Effective date 2012)
- Health and Safety/Human Rights
- USAID Global Health Vision FY 2012-2016
- Maternal Health Vision Action Plan (2014)
- ADS Chapter 204, Environmental Procedures (Partially revised 2013. Effective date 2006)
- USAID Strategy on Democracy Human Rights and Governance (2013)
- Involuntary Resettlement - Regulation 216 (22 CFR 216.2(d)(vii)) (1980)
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
- LGBT Vision for Action: Promoting and Supporting the Inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals (2014)
- USAID Youth Policy: Youth in Development: Recognizing the Demographic Opportunity (2012)
- ADS Chapter 201, Introduction to Programming Policy
- Social Soundness
- ADS Mandatory Reference (2014)
- Stakeholder Engagement Factsheet PDF (263 KB)
- Guidelines on Compulsory Displacement and Resettlement in USAID Programming
- Asian Development Bank Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing Countries in Asia
- Inter-American Development Bank IDB-9: Environmental and Social Safeguards, including Gender Policy
- International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards
- National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Guidelines and Principles for Social Impact Assessment
- United Nations. A Comprehensive Guide to Social Impact Assessment
- United States Forest Service (USFS) Economic and Social Analysis Handbook
- United States of America Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Appendix F Social Impact Assessment Methods
- World Bank A User’s Guide to Poverty and Social Impact Analysis
- IAIA's Social Impact Assessment: Guidance for Assessing and Managing the Social Impacts of Projects
Points of Contact.
Teresa Bernhard, E3 Bureau Environmental Officer
Yuliya Neyman, Land Governance and Legal Advisor in USAID's Land Tenure and Resource Management Office