Social Impact Assessment in México. Applications for the Energy Sector. – Natura E.S.T.

Social Impact Assessment in México. Applications for the Energy Sector.

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On December 20, 2013, it was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF)[1] The Presidential decree amending articles 25, 27 and 28 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, an Act that is known as energy reform. Within the main objectives of this reform was: to modernize and strengthen the energy sector, to have a greater supply, and “fostering development with social responsibility and protecting the environment[2]“. These modifications opened the doors of the energy sector to the Social Impact Assessment (SIA).

According to the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), the social impact assessment can be defined as “the process of identifying and managing the social issues of development projects[3]“; In other words, SIA is a mechanism for analyzing, monitoring and managing the voluntary and involuntary social consequences of planned interventions[4].

The social importance of SIA lies in the recognition that development projects can impact, both positively and negatively, the communities that surround this project. To protect the human rights of these communities, the secondary laws to energy reform (Article 121 of the Law of Hydrocarbons and 120 of the Law of the Electrical Industry) require those interested in developing energy projects to carry out an assessment of these impacts.

In practical terms the SIA is used as a mechanism to predict the social impact of energy projects and thus be able to consider solutions to these impacts before they occur. While there may be a temptation to underestimate these assessments, understanding them as an obstacle to obtain the necessary permits for the development of their projects, in our opinion, well understood and with an adequate report, can become a useful tool for developers, able to exploit the synergies between the project and the populations that will live with it. SIA is a good measure to save unanticipated costs, minimize “non-technical” risks (i.e. conflicts with people), improve relations with the community, and even polish the public image of the company, which, through a correct management plan, will show the world its social commitment and ethical values in the development of its business.

Metztli Hernández

Lic. Antropología Social por la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.


[1] Official Journal of the Federation, 20/12/2013, available at:

[2] An expanded explanation of the energy reform, secretary of Power, available at: Https://

[3] International Association for the Evaluation of impacts (IAIA), (2015). Social impact Assessment. Guidelines for the evaluation and management of social impacts of projects.

[4] Vanclay, F. (2003) International Principles For Social Impact Assessment, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 21:1, 5-12, DOI: 10.3152/147154603781766491

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