The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment

The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment

Conceptual and Methodological Advances

Elgar original reference

Edited by Henk A. Becker and Frank Vanclay

This important Handbook presents an indispensable overview of the range of new methods and of the conceptual advances in Social Impact Assessment (SIA). Recent increased attention to social considerations has led to substantial development in the techniques useful to, and the thinking in, SIA. A distinguished group of contributors provides an up-to-date and comprehensive account of the cutting-edge in SIA development.

Chapter 16: Involving the Public

Richard Roberts

Subjects: economics and finance, valuation, environment, environmental sociology, research methods in the environment, valuation, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, research methods in social policy, sociology and sociological theory


Richard Roberts Introduction The current practice of public involvement is, in many ways, the by-product of a cross-fertilization of populist ideas, the information revolution and widespread disenchantment with a society where neither industry nor elected officials appear to act ‘in the public interest’. Although it is very difficult to ascertain a definite beginning, some analysts believe that the current form of public participation began at a ‘grassroots’ level and that community development and participation ‘just happened’, with the initiative coming from the people (Roberts, 1995). The last two to three decades have seen the development and implementation of environmental impact assessment (EIA), social impact assessment (SIA) and public involvement (PI) in many developed and developing countries around the world. The process, approach and ultimate form have varied greatly in different countries. Similarly, the legal framework for these activities ranges from very formal, legislated requirements to much less formal policy or regulated approaches. In 1993, the World Bank set a precedent by requiring public consultation in EIAs for all projects which they are funding. The World Bank requires consultation with affected groups in the very early stages of project design and planning and again when the draft EIA is prepared. The major change is that public participation is required for projects that affect cultural and indigenous people, that involve involuntary resettlement (for example, associated with dams) or that depend on local responsibility for their success. As this is seen as a minimum requirement, many organizations...

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