Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) supports sound and well-balanced decision making on specific projects. In most countries ESIA is linked to the (environmental) permitting procedure a project needs to go through before implementation.
Note that ESIA is sometimes also referred to as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or Integrated Environmental Assessment (IEA).
The purpose of ESIA is two-fold:
- In the short term ESIA aims to inform the process of decision-making by identifying and addressing the potentially significant environmental, social and economic risks of projects.
- In the long term, ESIA aims to promote sustainable development by ensuring that development projects do not undermine critical resource and ecological functions or the well being and livelihood of the communities who depend on them.
figure (available as pdf) from United Nations University