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Social inclusion in impact assessment: A case study in the mining context of Cusco, Peru

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Mining projects can have significant social, economic and environmental impacts on local communities. The increasing number and scale of mining projects has resulted in increasing social resistance by local communities, who demand more meaningful involvement in the decision-making process, equitable benefits and greater protection from negative impacts. This research studies the intersection of impact assessment and sustainable community development within resource development contexts. This paper develops a new framework, the Integrated Inclusive Impact Framework, in order to co-create, with communities, a more holistic and inclusive system to identify and measure the impacts of resource development projects on community well-being, as well as test the effectiveness and appropriateness of participatory engagement methods, specifically for rural contexts in developing countries. This research employs a qualitative study design, conducting case studies in the Department of Cusco, Peru, in two Campesino communities, and collects data through household surveys, semi-structures and informal interviews and focus groups. This research finds that the by conducting impact assessment in a more inclusive and integrated way, it reveals more complex and dynamic interactions between community actors, as well as varied priorities. The proposed framework was successful in identifying and visualizing the community as a heterogeneous actor and was able to capture that there are groups, opinions and values that are not typically integrated in impact assessment. The findings demonstrate that through flexible participatory engagement methods, the co-creation of indicators, and recognizing and integrating local, traditional and experiential knowledge, diverse community perspectives for impact assessment can be more adequately and accurately integrated. This paper concludes by recommending engaging with and beyond official leaders, building trust and practicing reciprocity with communities in order to facilitate more meaningful and inclusive engagement processes and robust impact assessments.
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