Sociologist from Malta

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Feedback to public consultation on Water Catchment Management Plan

I have submitted the following: 

Ministry for Energy and Water Management​
(​Energy and Water Agency)

Re: Consultation on the Significant Water Management Issues in preparation for the development of the 3rd Water Catchment Management Plan  


With reference to the consultation in question, may I propose that the proposal and consultation exercise employs a social impact assessment process, to ensure greater outreach and deliberation with stakeholders. An SIA could produce valuable evidence for policy formation and implementation.  Various methods, both quantitative and qualitative could be used within social impact assessments. The former refers to generalisable data especially through numbers, while the latter produce in-depth data on matters. Research methods in SIAs may therefore include, for example, quantitative perception surveys and qualitative methods  which involve a deeper look into social realities. Besides, elite interviews may verify the advice, concerns and interpretations of persons who are experts or who have experience in the respective field under analysis. SIAs should involve the participation of different stakeholders, ideally through mixed research methods. Analytic indicators should be provided and the entire process should be subject to peer review by independent experts in the field. 

This means that if a study is being carried out by a team of social scientists, this should be scrutinised by other independent social scientists. This could help identify shortcomings and possible improvements to the same SIA.

Social impact assessments should not be one-off exercises: To the contrary, they should be ongoing processes which engage with various stakeholders and which report back so as to ensure effective policy processes. They should also use complementary research methods so as to ensure reliable and valid data.

In this regard, you may refer to international SIA standards, for example those set by the International Association for Impact Assessment, which is accessible from this link:

Dr Michael Briguglio

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