A Social Impact Assessment is a process of research, planning and the management of social change or consequences (positive and negative, intended and unintended) arising from policies, plans, developments and projects (UNEP, 2007). The core focus of an SIA is on the important impacts of projects and developments beyond the impacts on natural resources.
The techniques of project financial and economic analysis and impact assessment are becoming increasingly important as methods for choosing between projects where resources, both financial and human, are limited. The use of recognised assessment techniques for project proposals has become mandatory as part of the selection and justification process for projects funded by the international financial institutions. However, while financial and economic issues relating to resource allocation for projects, development programmes and policies are all important, policy makers and development banks and institutions are increasingly concerned with other issues – including the environmental, social, gender, health, poverty and welfare impacts of projects.