I consider the following one to be the most precise and appropriate to this research: By social impacts we mean the consequences to human populations of any public or private actions that alter the ways in which people live, work, play, relate to one another, organize to meet their needs and generally cope as members of society. The term also includes cultural impacts involving changes to the norms, values, and beliefs that guide and rationalize their cognition of themselves and their society. This definition was proposed by Interorganizational Committee on Principles and Guidelines for Social Impact Assessment .
This definition serves the basis for the Social Impact Assessment. It should be also mentioned that Social Impact Assessment originated from the Environmental Impact Assessment. Therefore, I consider it necessary to define the notion of the EIA first. 2. Delineation of EIA and SIA Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) can be defined as a process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and managing the biophysical, social, health and other relevant effects of development proposals before major decisions are taken and commitments are made .
EIA has been originally devised in order to study various aspects of the new project and possibly minimize the negative influence of large scale development schemes on surrounding ecosystems and natural resources. In the process of EIA researchers take into consideration various impacts, which could potentially important, like direct, indirect and cumulative. EIA is of great importance and can be implied in the process of planning to ensure that new development opportunities are environmentally friendly and adjustable to the natural potentials .
EIA is a component of the wider notion known as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which on its side serves the basis for the programs and policies of EIA. Social impact assessment (SIA) is quite close to EIA, however, it has the other field of study. Instead of investigation of the impact of new projects on the environment it focuses on the human side of the phenomenon. More precisely, in the process of SIA researchers investigate possible social and cultural impacts of the new projects on people, communities and certain individuals in particular .
It should be mentioned that different researchers have different application of the SIA. Sometimes, SIA is viewed only as a part of the EIA process is focused only on the influence of the new projects on the way of lives of people, who are or can possibly be affected by the project . However, in some cases SIA is regarded as a completely separate investigation, which focuses on the variety of demographic, social and even cultural aspects and is conducted in order to make sure that the new project corresponds to the needs and expectations of people affected and that it will maximize their opportunities and participation in the project.
This point of view proposed by Vanclay is particularly valuable . SIA is an essential component of the wise project planning. However, it could be carried out at the stage of the implementation or after-implementation evaluation as well. SIA is conducted in order to investigate the possible risk factors, which could be either external or created in the process of the project implementation.
Generally Social Impact Assessment can be defined as a framework for evaluation of all impacts on humans and on all the ways in which people and communities interact with their socio-cultural, economic and environmental surroundings . In the process of the SIA researchers are driven by several motifs. First of all they are interested in various social consequences of possible risks either direct or indirect. Further, they have to introduce effective measures of elimination and prevention of possible threats and forecast community response to new project .
SIA conceptual domain is quite close to the EIA due to that fact that it incorporates the study of social, economic and biophysical effects and accepts that they all are interrelated and change in one of these domains will prompt that change in two others. On the other hand, it should be mentioned that SIA is not restricted to the study of possible threats but is also concerned with human perceptions and responses to the project . 3. Social and Environmental Impact Assessment of the hydropower plants.
Further, I will investigate the application of EIA and SIA to the implementation and evaluation of the hydropower plant projects. EIA can be applied to investigate the possible influences of the project on physical environment, which involves the study of the water quality change, erosion, flood risk, and climate change, biological environment, involving the study of impacts on aquatic life and possible dangers to endangered species, and influences connected with resettlement sites, incorporating the research of soil erosion, waste management and over-exploitation of natural resources .
SIA is aimed at study of the social peculiarities of the area, where the hydropower plant should be constructed. This study includes the research of characteristics of the area population, such as its size and location, level of income, ethnicity, education and public health resources and cultural peculiarities. It should be also mentioned that in any new project evaluation SIA is primarily concerned with population resettlement, as this is the most essential and prominent problem associated with the construction of the new hydroelectric power plant especially if it also involves the construction of a large dam .
In the hydropower project assessment SIA is closely associated with EIA particularly due to the fact that it investigates different social impacts, which are for the most closely interrelated, either directly or indirectly, with environmental issues, which are incorporated into the field of study of EIA . Hydroelectric power development is conditioned by the ever-growing energy consumption, which in its turn is due to the growth of the word population.
It is forecast that during the next two decades hydropower will further develop as a source of energy and till 2020 it is expected to double. This is partially due to the fact that now the world is in constant search of the alternative sources of energy. Today world greatly depends on fossil fuels, which is the main producer of energy. However, humanity already realized the danger of this source of energy, which is the main contributor to global warming process due to the emission of CO2 and a number of other greenhouse gases.
In this respect hydropower energy is considered as powerful and more environmentally friendly source of energy . It should also be mentioned that SIA and EIA does not stops only on the study of the possible threats and evaluation of the present hydropower plants. EIA and SIA is particularly important due to the fact that it research data can and should be actively used in the processes of country policy-making, as well as project planning and implementation.
Once the new project is well-considered its negative impact on environment and society is reduced or even completely eliminated. The other benefit of SIA and EIA is that their data can be used as a prediction of future changes. Lets have a closer look at several case studies in order to realize the importance of EIA and SIA to the careful hydropower projects planning and policy implementation ( Taylor, Bryan, Goodrich, 2004).