Conceptual and Methodological Advances
Edited by Frank Vanclay and Ana Maria Esteves
Chapter 1: Current Issues and Trends in Social Impact Assessment
1. Current issues and trends in social impact assessment Frank Vanclay and Ana Maria Esteves Introduction Building on its predecessor, The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment (Becker and Vanclay, 2003), this edited book outlines current developments in thinking in the field of social impact assessment (SIA). Like its predecessor, it is firmly rooted in the philosophy outlined in the International Principles for Social Impact Assessment (Vanclay, 2003) and emphasizes that the focus of SIA should be on: managing the social issues associated with planned interventions; taking a holistic and integrated approach to impact assessment; and stressing that greater attention needs to be given to ensuring that the goals of development (project benefits) are attained and enhanced. In this current understanding, SIA is much more than the act of predicting impacts in a regulatory context (the old traditional view); it is the process of managing the social aspects of development (Vanclay, 2006). The chapters in this book build on these foundations and contribute to this now established understanding of SIA. While there is consensus that SIA can make an effective contribution to sustainability, unfortunately its potential contribution is not being fully achieved – at least not in the way that SIA is actually practised. As several contributors to this book comment, most notably Bruce Harvey in his challenging foreword, typically the people who commission SIAs (and all too frequently the people who do SIAs) have traditional understandings about SIA. This traditional perspective limits the potential of SIA to make a real...
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