M. SADIQ SOHAIL AND MOHAMMED A. BURNEY, KING FAHD UNIVERSITY OF PETROLEUM AND MINERALS, SAUDI ARABIA
The Socioeconomic Impact Assessment (SIA) specialists face a host of challenges in interpreting the importance of social and economic impacts. The challenges include flawless valuation of highly qualitative aspects and determining the significance of the social and economic impacts. Evidence is abundant in the literature about the serious implications resulting from incomplete or prejudiced SIA analyses during execution of the projects and beyond. These challenges stem in part from the complexities, uncertainties and varying interpretations associated with social and economic phenomena. They also result from usually insufficient attention being devoted to determining the significance of social and economic impacts in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements, guidelines and literature. This paper conceptualizes the significance of social and economic impacts, and discusses some practical issues and perspectives supported by the experience in conducting recent SIA studies in Saudi Arabia. The findings are intended to help EIA and SIA specialists, regulators and other stakeholders to determine the social and economic impacts with more objectivity and accuracy.
Keywords: Socioeconomic Impact Assessment; Environmental Impact Assessment; SIA; EIA; Saudi Arabia; Significance.