Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Recommend mit-
igation or com-
pensation meas-
Mitigation or compensation measures may be built into the selected intervention alternative.
Practitioners shouldalso identify the agency ororganization responsible formitigation orcom-
Step 7
Develop monit-
oring and man-
Development of such programs assures that impacts are managed through the four phases in
the life cycle of a dam, including planning, construction, operation, and decommissioning. It
allows practitioners to compare actual impacts with projected impacts.
Step 8
Source : Adapted from Tilt, Braun, and He 2009.
The legal framework for SIA in China has been slow to take hold but is gaining mo-
mentum. In the 1990s, the Institute of Investment Research within the State Planning Com-
mission (the predecessor of the NDRC) issued guidelines and methods for SIA in its large
investment projects (Li and Shi 2011; NDRC 2007). At the eighteenth National People's
Congress in 2012, which ushered Xi Jinping into the top leadership position, the State
Council passed a new directive on “social risk assessment” ( shehui fengxian pinggu ) that
provided a stronger administrative mandate for considering the social costs of large devel-
opment projects before they are initiated. In an interview with the New York Times , En-
vironmental Minister Zhou Shengxian reflected on the importance of the directive, saying,
“No major projects can be launched without social risk evaluations.… By doing so, I hope
we can reduce the number of mass incidents in the future” (Bradsher 2012). Mass incid-
ent ( quntixing shijian ) is a euphemism commonly used to refer to public protests and other
forms of dissent. It is too early to tell what kind of statutory authority the “social risk as-
sessment” directive will have—whether it will eventually be legislated into law or passed
as a State Council ordinance—but it signals unequivocally the political leadership's recog-
nition that the mounting social costs of development projects need to be addressed at high
administrative levels.
Assuming that the institutional and legal challenges of SIA can be addressed, which is
admittedly not a sure bet, there are even more basic scientific questions that confront SIA
practitioners in China and elsewhere. One of the most problematic aspects of conducting
SIA of large dam projects is ensuring that the analysis takes place at the proper temporal
scale. For example, multilateral development agencies, national governments, and private
developers alike tend to monitor primarily the initial years of resettlement, which has the
effect of missing the long-term problems that communities must face. Evaluations during
the initial years of resettlement may give a false reading of success, effectively sidestep-
ping the question of how social impacts unfold over time. In the case of dam projects,
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