One of Guyana’s main lending partners, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has released a report which targets more comprehensive public consultations for public projects.
According to the bank, the new report identifies 10 key elements that can help projects improve their sustainability and reduce potential social conflicts, from proper community engagement and legal foundations to adequate monitoring of results.
The report – Social Impact Assessment: Integrating Social Issues in Development Projects – looks at how governments and other key players can better utilize social assessments in their projects to improve development outcomes, ensure greater social acceptance of the project and manage potential risks, among others.
The recommendations are in keeping with international best practices.
“Social impact assessments are a powerful tool to facilitate the integration of social issues in the planning and implementation of projects,” says Janine Ferretti, Chief of IDB’s Environmental and Social Safeguard Unit. “It improves the quality and sustainability of projects, supports and strengthens national requirements, and enhances project acceptance and local ownership.”
The Spanish-language edition of note will be launched during the VI Regional Policy Dialogue (RPD) at the IDB’s headquarters in Washington, D.C on September 11-13.
Since 2015, the Environmental and Social Safeguards Unit (ESG) of the bank has held a series of 5 RPDs on Environmental Licensing and Compliance.
These dialogues have brought together hundreds of senior officials from the licensing and enforcement authorities in countries within the Latin American and Caribbean regions to better understand the challenges and needs to strengthen environmental and social permitting and compliance. The note will be a key point of conversation throughout this year’s Dialogue.
The Social Impact Assessment (SIA) note is structured around 10 key elements, which should be embedded in an SIA process in projects of moderate to high risk, scale, and complexity – typically big infrastructure investments.
A recent IDB study of 200 conflict-affected infrastructure projects have revealed that social drivers led to conflicts in many cases, including a lack of community benefits (84%) and reduced access to resources (78%).
“These elements are not addressed separately or sequentially. They inform each other, and may be studied, consulted on, and managed at different times of the project cycle,” IDB said.
Among the 10 elements were Stakeholders’ Engagement, Benefits and Opportunities, Risk Identification, Design and Implementation and Monitoring, Adaptive Management and Evaluation.
With regards to consultations, the report noted that stakeholder analysis and meaningful engagement are essential parts of the SIA process, providing inputs to informed decision making. For Benefits and Opportunities, the SIA process provides the basis for determining how a project can benefit local communities and other stakeholders and promote local ownership and support for the project.
According to the IDB, the earlier the SIA starts, the easier it is to maximize benefits and minimize risk, and to add value to the project through improved designs and implementation.
“This note on Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is part of a series of guidance and good practice publications prepared by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Unit.
The series covers assessment and management of environmental and social risks and opportunities, and aims to provide guidance on international good practice and IDB’s requirements in applying environmental and social sustainability principles.”
The report would be critical to Guyana, as over time there have been questions about the way projects are initiated without much stakeholders’ input and even implemented, again without them.
The IDB has been lending Guyana billions, for roads and electricity projects, among other things.
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