Group for Research in Decision Analysis


At risk: The environmental and social impact assessment. The need for action

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The introduction of the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) into public environmental protection schemes and corporate performance standards has been an important development, especially as compared to the situation prevailing before the 1970s, when only technical and economic aspects were considered in decisions about project implementation. Some believe that the ESIA supports the integration of environmental and social considerations, from project design to implementation, and takes public concerns into account in decision-making. However, shortcomings in current practices and pressure to relax ESIA schemes could lead to their marginalization. It is important to respond to the many criticisms made by observers and review committees over the years about the relevance of the information contained in impact studies and about transparency in the analysis process. A solution to this problem is to find innovative ESIA methods. Using a structured stake-by-stake approach and applying multicriteria decision aid (MCDA) methods are promising ways of improving the situation. The proposals made in this paper are consistent with the characteristics of the collaborative approach used in the ESIA of projects. These proposals are designed to respond to the issues raised and to meet the challenge posed by a pressing social demand for increased citizen participation in decisions affecting the environment and society.

This paper is a revised and augmented version of a previous ``Cahier du GERAD'' which has been published in French as G-2015-29.

, 24 pages