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Defra strategy unit: input on defining 'social impacts'

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This response should be read in conjunction with our current project on measuring the social dimension of sustainable development. An overview of the project, which is due to be completed in September 2009, is provided in Appendix 1. More information on the study and related publications are also available at This response does not on the definition of social impact, as there is an extensive and comprehensive literature on this issue (see for example Barrow, 2000), which is synthesised in the definition of social impact provided by the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) in 2003, already being considered by DEFRA. Instead, the response focuses on: (i) the definition of social sustainability in the light of increasing calls to integrate social impacts with economic, environmental and political impacts within a sustainability perspective; (ii) the themes or dimensions of Social Sustainability Assessment (SSA), which provides the framework for Social Impact Assessment (SIA) to appraise and monitor the effectiveness of policies, programmes and plans; and, (iii) the desirable characteristics that sustainability indicators should have, as well as the limitations of the current indicators currently suggested by DEFRA and ONS to monitor the social dimension of sustainable development and sustainable communities.

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