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Converting project risks to development opportunities through SIA enhancement measures: a practitioner perspective

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This paper draws on social impact assessment (SIA) and benefit-sharing literature as well as practical SIA project experience in more than 18 different countries. It suggests four practical steps to promote the implementation of enhancement measures in projects: (1) early consideration of positive impacts, benefits and beneficiaries; (2) meaningful consultation and empowerment of beneficiaries; (3) including benefit enhancement measures in project finance agreements; and (4) independent monitoring of project benefits. The paper proposes that enhancement measures should be culturally appropriate, relevant to the project objectives and activities, cost effective, and contribute to the project being a good corporate neighbour. The paper argues that it is critical that employment generation is monitored in order to confirm it has the positive impact predicted in SIAs, as sometimes there is little review of who gains from the employment opportunities and how equitably the benefits are distributed within local project affected communities. The paper recommends that enhancement should not be seen as an add-on in SIA processes but rather as a core means to convert project risks to sustainable development opportunities.
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Keywords: benefit-sharing; benefits; enhancement; environmental and social action plans (ESAP); labour accommodation plan; project affected peoples; social impact assessment (SIA); social management and monitoring plans (SMMP); well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Social Sustainability Team of Mott MacDonald Ltd. (an international engineering and development consultancy firm), Victory House, Trafalgar Place Brighton, BN1 4FY, UK

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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