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CHALLENGES OF THE SOCIALIMPACT ASSESSMENT

As follow-up to Bulletin 45, this note is aimed at referring to some of the flaws/questions that have been pinpointed regarding the Social Impact Assessment a little over one year since publication of the laws establishing this instrument; that is, the Hydrocarbons Law and the Electric Industry Law.


Over the past few years it has become obvious that society refuses to accept many projects of a diverse nature and in many cases has made it possible to stop them. Thus the importance of having an instrument that would not only pinpoint their impacts (both positive and negative), but that would also have an influence on optimum decision-making and that would contribute to the coveted goal of sustainable development.


Despite the fact that Mexican environmental regulations have taken into account the participation of society in topics such as the environmental impact evaluation procedure, it is also certain that this procedure is intrinsically dissimilar from the social impact assessment. As opposed to the former, the purpose of which is to foresee an impact on the environment, the latter pertains to the effects that a specific project will have on the community. And, although it is important to mention that legal ordinances regulating the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) fail to spell out what should be understood as social impact and, even though this might seem obvious, in reality its limits are an important factor.


In this respect, one of the grounds for the Hydrocarbons Law is set forth as follows: It is essential for the energy sector to establish procedures that would allow authorities with jurisdiction to be afforded complete, timely information with respect to the relationship that would be generated between a Project and a community so as to safeguard at all times the well-being and development of communities, ensure the feasibility and profitability of projects and mitigate investment risks and operating costs for developers and investors.



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