Course #10: Social Impact Assessment (SIA): Fit for the Future





The training will build the practical skills, critical thinking, and alternative approaches needed to deliver high quality SIAs. The course will be based on real experiences, IAIA’s International Principles for SIA, and evolving best practice. Given the theme of the conference, the training will interweave content on emerging 21st century challenges and related social vulnerabilities, and how these challenges affect the SIA process and interlinked stakeholder engagement.

This course is open to practitioners who work on or with impact assessments and are wanting to improve the effectiveness of their SIA practice, including those who: are from another impact assessment discipline and want to better understand or become involved in an SIA; are currently carrying out SIAs, but want to achieve more from their assessment practice; commission and manage consultants undertaking an SIA; receive and assess SIAs within government or other organizations; and have to incorporate SIA within an integrated multi-disciplinary IA process.

There will be particular emphasis upon:

  • Understanding the SIA process.
  • Enhancing SIA through effective stakeholder engagement.
  • Key analytical and practical skills required for a meaningful SIA.
  • Understanding the limitations of SIA.
  • Emerging trends shaping SIA process requirements and opportunities.
  • Maximizing the opportunities of SIA, in particular using the process to improve the quality of decision-making and as a basis for relationship building.
  • SIAs as a foundation for the development of broader social and integrated management systems.

Learning outcomes include:

  • Improved ability to build a smart SIA process that delivers the best outcomes especially in complex contexts.
  • Improved competency in core SIA skills.
  • Linking SIAs to integrated impact management and project decision making.
Enhanced stakeholder engagement during SIA.
Level: Intermediate

Solid grounding in the impact assessment (IA) process and some exposure to SIA.

Language: English
Duration: 2 days (24-25 May)
Price: US$575
Min/Max: 10-30

Katharine Gotto Walton, Director, Synergy Global Consulting Ltd (UK)

Edward O’Keefe, Director, Synergy Global Consulting Ltd (UK)


Katharine Gotto Walton has over 20 years’ international experience focused on helping organizations understand and manage their interactions with society and the environment. Her key competency is in managing the socio-economic, human rights and sustainability impacts and issues surrounding natural resource related development projects. Katharine works fluently across cultural and organizational boundaries to support change within corporate, NGO, civil society and government contexts. As a Director at Synergy for the past 16 years, Katharine has played a critical role in the success of numerous sensitive projects alongside building a global consulting company and team of expert social performance specialists. Katharine is a strong project manager with extensive experience on the ground including work with Shell, BG Group, BP, Tullow Oil, Total, Putu Iron Ore (Liberia) and AGIP KCO and more than four years seconded to Shell in Latin America. Her key skills include social, human rights and integrated impact assessments including consideration of labor impacts; audit and reviews; project planning, implementation and assessment; stakeholder engagement and communication; social investment; wider social issue management; strategy and policy development; training; and, team building and management.

Katharine co-designed this SIA training and has taught it at previous IAIA annual conferences in 2016, 2017 and 2019. Katharine co-designs and is currently facilitating internal SIA as well as leading the social M&E training for Shell. Katharine is an ISO14001 lead auditor and has led and participated in numerous external and internal audits and reviews including for the IFC Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman. Katharine previously worked for an NGO-corporate partnership (BP, Birdlife International, Fauna and Flora International) leading a global grant and training biodiversity conservation program.

Edward O’Keefe is the Director responsible for Synergy’s training and skills development services. He has led the development and delivery of Synergy’s innovative community relations practitioner course in partnership with the University of Witwatersrand. He has also designed and delivered training and facilitated workshops tailored to specific clients, including ICMM, De Beers, Newmont, Ma’aden, the Social Practice Forum and UNICEF.

Edward has over 20 years’ international experience focused on helping organizations understand and manage their interactions with society and has played a critical role in the success of numerous sensitive projects. His work has focused particularly on the mining sector.  His key skills are in managing the socio-economic impacts of large-scale development projects, including training and facilitation, auditing, management systems, and building processes for effective stakeholder partnerships.  Edward has experience with such organizations as Shell, AngloGold Ashanti, IFC, Rio Tinto, UNICEF, DFID, and the Responsible Mining Foundation.  Edward has experience of working in over 30 countries internationally, with a focus on Eurasia and Africa. He is a trained ISO 14001 lead auditor and led numerous external assessments and audits of social performance management systems against standards including IFC Performance Standards, Bettercoal, and EITI. He worked previously for the UK DFID, mainstreaming natural resource and poverty issues into the Ugandan government program to reform agricultural advisory services. With Fauna & Flora International, he was a major contributor to the development and management of the Community & Business Forum of the Kumtor Gold Mine in Kyrgyzstan, which helped mediate relationships between the mine and local communities. He has also established and directed an NGO supporting community relations programs in a new national park in Ghana. He has authored papers and delivered public talks on a range of subjects, advancing thinking on issues including indigenous people, poverty and the extractive sector.