Quick on the heels of Gardenio’s first thesis paper, below, his second paper is out today in Journal of Environmental Management: Using news coverage and community-based impact assessments to understand and track social effects using the perspectives of affected people and decisionmakers. This paper allows us to look at two of the ‘state of the art’ SIAs in recent years, for the Site C and Keeyask hydro projects. Each used a community-based approach where affected First Nations were funded to create their own impact assessment documents for consideration by the panel, yet the public discourse differs dramatically. We compared those documents with longitudinal media coverage to understand the longer term perspectives of affected people and decisionmakers in each case, a data source much more available than any formal monitoring in Canada. This allowed us to explore the potential of such datasets as suggested in this 2017 paper published about modernizing SIA.
Hot on the heels of Gardenio da Silva’s MES thesis defense, his first paper is out this morning in Energy Research & Social Science, Do methods used in social impact assessment adequately capture impacts? An exploration of the research-practice gap using hydroelectricity in Canada. Gardenio reviewed publicly available social impact assessments (SIAs) from 37 hydroelectricity projects in Canada to see what methods are being used to understand baseline conditions and anticipate impacts. Not surprisingly, the methods are dominated by open houses and census-based input/output tables, the approaches that are best able to be controlled by proponents and consultants. About half used interviews, and a quarter or less more rigorous approaches like participatory mapping or surveys, but most methods were poorly described. The range of impacts vary similarly: all SIAs looked at demographic change, infrastructure impacts and job creation, but fewer than half tackled issues such as gender, equity, crime, substance abuse, etc (see above). The number of methods employed was more correlated with the size of the project (p<0.001) than how recent it is (p<0.05). The paper makes some recommendations about improvements that could be made in SIA practice, and segues nicely to Gardenio’s second paper about monitoring, which should be coming along soon.
Congratulations to Gardenio da Silva who defended his MES thesis this morning on Social impact assessment (SIA) practice for hydroelectricity in CAnada: a review of methods and monitoring. Wonderful to have IA expert Meinhard Doelle examining the thesis from Sweden, John Parkins ringing in early from Alberta (in the midst of this heat wave) in a committee capacity, and colleague Andrew Medeiros managing it all as chair. It was a wonderful conversation about the practice of SIA, using hydro dams as a case, in a challenging context. Gardenio’s work leveraged secondary datsets, including SIA documents and longitudinal media coverage. Both papers within the thesis are at an advanced stage of publication, which makes the process a bit easier, but there was a lot to engage on. Great to see so many MES defending comfortably within the allocated two years.