(Blackstone Consultants)

Social Analyses & Stakeholder Engagement

Information on our Social Assessment Experience.

Our Approach

Blackstone’s assignments have included a large number of social analyses and social assessment projects in Canada and in some 45 countries around the world.   Utilizing qualitative and quantitative research techniques, our social assessments and socio-economic analyses provide our clients with very vivid and accurate information and insights regarding conditions that could affect the success of a proposed project, create adverse impacts on local people and institutions, or offer opportunities to build on assets/create linkages.
We carry out social analysis work based on a sustainable livelihoods approach. This approach is focused not only on needs assessment and problem identification, but also on detailed analysis of the positive assets that are available to build upon, particularly with regard to social capital and “social energy” among the local people.  Our work almost always involves highly participatory, iterative stakeholder development processes. We look for realistic solutions that can provide benefits for all of the stakeholders, including the most vulnerable people.  Our strong analytical approaches strive to avoid the production of simplistic “wish lists” that do not lead to any action. Instead, we provide our clients and stakeholders with action-oriented recommendations that take into consideration the capacity to implement any such recommendations.   It is our experience that this type of approach leads to widespread agreement among the various parties, can avoid painful and expensive conflict resolution processes down line, and generates real and visible results.

Our Socio-Economic Services

  • Situation analysis;
  • Socio-economic impact assessment;
  • Qualitative and quantitative research (i.e., focus groups and workshops; key informant    interviews; case studies; surveys; SPSS);
  • Institutional and capacity analyses;
  • Needs assessments and consensus-building;
  • Asset-based analysis to develop sustainable livelihood solutions;
  • Consultation and stakeholder development;
  • Post-conflict analysis;
  • Economic development and community-based/local initiatives programmes;
  • Indigenous peoples and minorities research;
  • Monitoring and evaluation.

Stakeholder Engagement

Intensive Stakeholder Engagement is incorporated into most assignments we undertake.  Meaningful engagement is crucial in order to ensure that:

  • Key stakeholders’ interests and concerns, particularly those who are most vulnerable, are understood and integrated into decision-making;
  • Decisions are based on an accurate understanding of baseline conditions;
  • Costly delays and disruptions of projects arising from stakeholder dissatisfaction are avoided.


SE need not be expensive or time-consuming.   Our Stakeholder Engagement & Social Assessment methodology utilizes a highly specialized rapid appraisal approach developed over many years to capture vital socio-economic conditions, issues, complexities and opportunities in a cost and time effective way.

We combine several investigative tools and methods, as appropriate, combining both qualitative and quantitative approaches to provide triangulation.  These include, among others:

  • Secondary source materials analysis;
  • Identification of “lessons learned” from other organizations/jurisdictions;
  • Stakeholder mapping;
  • Institutional (organizational) analysis;
  • Key informant interviews across many sectors;
  • Focus groups;
  • Case studies;
  • Workshops and seminars;
  • Facilitation;
  • Targeted quantitative surveys;
  • Human resource capacity evaluations;
  • Monitoring and evaluation.

Our Stakeholder Engagement and Social Assessment assignments have had direct, demonstrable positive impacts on the success of our clients’ programs and projects.

Social Project Experience:

IDB Invest Access to Information Policy Consultations:  (2018)  We conducted consultations in six regions of Latin America (Jamaica, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica) and Washington, DC, to assist IDB Invest gain opinions as to how to finalize its draft Policy.

Albania: Full time Community Relations Managers for Bankers Petroleum (August 2011- through December 2014). S. Davidson and B. Lamb were responsible for developing and overseeing Bankers’ social/community relations team in Fier, Albania. Bankers operated the largest land-based oilfield in Europe for several years, having taken it over from a former state-owned company. The company faced many social and environmental challenges at a vast site inhabited by some 25,000 people and deemed one of the United Nations’ “environmental hot spots” due to the extreme environmental degradation. Our work involved, among many other tasks: building and training a local team of social scientists; ensuring compliance with the standards of Bankers’ lenders, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); conducting SEIAs for various projects (e.g., bridge construction; pipelines; etc.); conducting stakeholder engagement activities in some 20 enclave villages; and developing and implementing a Community Investment programme to benefit local populations.

World Bank (2013): Evaluation of IBRD Safeguard Policies. An assignment to assess stakeholder perceptions of application of the safeguard policies for a range of Bank projects in different sectors in Kenya, Tanzania, Philippines, Bolivia, Columbia.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) (2010): Evaluation of IFC’s Performance Standards for Sustainability and Private Sector Project Reviews in Nine Countries – A major IFC initiative to carry out an evaluation of the agency’s sustainability performance standards as they have been applied to date by private sector companies in India, Indonesia, Guatemala, Turkey, Senegal, Uganda, China, Peru and Nicaragua, and analysis of the impacts of projects on local populations. The research encompassed many sectors including: mining; hydroelectric power; agricultural production; mass transit; agro-chemicals; oil and gas; etc..  Blackstone’s work included an intensive qualitative research programme involving literature reviews, key informant interviews, focus groups with local stakeholders and case studies. The project results were very well received by IFC;

Integrated Community Sustainability Planning – Development of a Guide, Case Studies and Training to Assist Ontario Municipalities to Prepare ICSPs: Project undertaken for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to prepare a detailed toolkit that can assist municipalities to determine their sustainability planning needs and develop ICSPs that will move them forward along a path to greater economic, environmental and social sustainability;

Azerbaijan: Design of Grant Programme for War-Affected Youth (World Bank) Project to design grant facility for youths affected by the Armenia-Azerbaijan war, including recreational and cultural facilities in the New Settlements, vocational training/apprenticeships, and cooperative ventures for schools.

Azerbaijan: Social Infrastructure for Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) in Urban Areas (ADB) Blackstone led this major project designed to assess the needs of the one million persons displaced as a result of the Armenia-Azerbaijan war and prepare a $10 million loan to develop social infrastructure for these vulnerable populations. The project involved a poverty assessment, participatory needs assessment process, resettlement of IDPs from several school facilities, development of new housing, preparation of an Local Initiatives Facility for community-based grant applications, and capacity-building for municipal government agencies and local groups;

Serbia: Social and Poverty Assessment for Irrigation and Drainage Rehabilitation Project (World Bank and CIDA): Project to assess socio-economic implications of major drainage and irrigation rehabilitation works in Serbia and establish capacity building programme;

Social Assessment for Serbia Property Rights/Cadastre Project, World Bank: An assessment of the potential impact of the Bank’s cadastre project on women and on minorities (Internally displaced persons – IDPs from Kosovo; refugees from Bosnia and Croatia; Roma; ethnic Albanians, Slovaks, Hungarians, etc.);

Social Assessment: Bulgaria Farm Restructuring, World Bank: A social assessment of the effects of farm restructuring since the end of the Soviet Union, on rural populations.

Social Assessment: Moldova Property Rights Reform, World Bank:  A project to assess the extent to which the WB’s project to register urban and rural, residential and commercial properties has produced the originally intended benefits, whether it has created “winners” and “losers”, and how the WB can continue its support of property rights reform in a Phase II of its Cadastre project.

Social Assessment: Bosnia & Herzegovina Road Safety & Management Programme, World Bank:  This SA was well received and its main recommendations are being implemented, including measures to reduce accidents, and adoption of a Protocol for Professional Conduct, addressing transparency and corruption issues within government institutions.

Social Assessment related to Protection of Croatia’s Parks (World Bank): The Bank was assisting the country to protect the important karst formations which are within a system of national parks. After ten years of political turmoil and war, the aim of this project was to document “who is living where and doing what” around and within the parks. In the absence of census data, this difficult project involved extensive consultation with Croats, Serbs, with villagers, government and industry representatives. The report was very well received.

Solid Waste Management Solutions for an Area of Patagonia, Argentina: Project to determine solutions to the socio-economic problems related to waste handling and disposal, and to the issue of “pickers” or “basureros”. Institutional development, environmental education and awareness building programmes were among the key tasks.

Sustainability Planning Toolkit for Ontario’s 400 Municipalities: Blackstone was retained by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to develop a web-basedmanual to guide sustainable development initiatives in Ontario’s 400 municipalities, encompassing community energy initiatives, water management, solid waste management, transportation, etc… [See: http://www.amo.on.ca/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Integrated_Community_Sustainability_Plan&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=150880]
Sustainable Development Training for Communities in Ontario: Blackstone developed and delivered day-long interactive training sessions on sustainability planning with municipal leaders, which were attended by several hundred people throughout the Province. One of the outcomes have been over two dozen case studies of municipalities that are taking different but very successful approaches to sustainability planning;
Nova Scotia:  Treasure Hunting and Sustainable Management of Marine Heritage Resources: Following extensive consultations with stakeholders, and a comprehensive analysis of legislative and other issues, Blackstone designed a well received sustainable marine heritage management strategy.

Peru Environmental Review. CIDA: Mission to determine Peru’s environmental gaps and priorities and to recommend possible areas for CIDA funding.

Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for a Power Plant and Transmission Corridor: Ecuador (private sector) Responsible for supervising the SIA for a 250 km transmission corridor from the Amazon region to Quito.

Social Impact Assessment, Riberalta, Bolivia (CIDA): The goal was to identify impacts, particularly on women, of a proposed thermal power plant, in this northern part of Bolivia. Child labour issues were also considered.

Institutional Roles and Responsibilities for Privatization of Public Utilities, The Bahamas (IADB) Purpose was to recommend policy and legal/regulatory initiatives that should be undertaken by the GoTB to ensure that privatization of telecommunications, SWM, water and sewer and electricity utilities will not result in adverse environmental impacts.

Socio-economic Impact Assessment, Nankumba Peninsula Development Project, Malawi (CIDA) Assessment of socio-economic and women-in-development issues associated with multi-component development plans for the Nankumba Peninsula and Lake Malawi National Park;

Urban Environmental Management Programmes for the City of Kampala and the City of Jinja, Uganda Responsible for the environmental programming tasks being carried out as part of the Strategic Urban Development Plans for Kampala (for the World Bank) and Jinja (for CIDA), which form part of Uganda’s First Urban Project. The overall projects involve the preparation of Structure Plans for the sustainable development of the two cities to the year 2000, and the preparation of a series of Action Programmes and budgets for specific environmental management initiatives, in tandem with the other sectors under study.

Conserver Values and Practices Study, Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy , Major research assignment to examine attitudes, values and practices associated with conserverism and consumerism, and assess how MOEE might evaluate its programming/policy in light of these issues to promote the concept of a “conserver society” in the province.

Waste Management Practices in the Workplace, Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy Study to assess how business and institutions are dealing with solid waste management issues;

Assessment of Social/Behavioural Aspects of “3Rs”:  Retained by coalition of intervenor communities to assess social assessment work carried out on behalf of the Ontario Interim Waste Authority with respect to reduction-reuse-recycling initiatives as a viable option to landfill in Ontario.

Socio Economic Assessment and Public Consultation Programming, Nanisivik Arctic Station Initial Environmental Evaluation Project, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada Responsible for public consultation programme, tourism and socio economic impact assessment associated with the proposed DND Military Training Centre at the northern end of Baffin Island. Tasks included: door to door surveys and a series of meetings with the Inuit communities at Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet;

Analysis of Agenda 21 and Circumpolar Sustainability Report, for the INUIT CIRCUMPOLAR CONFERENCE Two projects including an assessment of 40 chapters of UNCED Agenda 21 report, to determine relevance and applicability for the Inuit peoples of Canada, Greenland and Russia, and its pertinence for circumpolar sustainability; report on ICC and other activities in the Arctic related to sustainable development.

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) National Task Force on Waste Reduction National Packaging Protocol Senior member of a multi disciplinary group commissioned by Environment Canada and CCME to develop National Packaging Protocol which will, when ratified, provide a “blue print” for reducing packaging waste in Canada by 50% by the year 2000. Specific responsibilities included consultation with governmental, packaging industry and other “stakeholders” in the waste reduction effort, and assessment of consumer attitudes and trends related to packaging waste issues.

Caribbean Regional Environmental Programming Strategy This project was undertaken on behalf of CIDA to prepare a strategy to address the environmental issues confronting 13 Commonwealth Caribbean countries as well as Belize and Guyana. Ms. Davidson’s main role included field research in Barbados, Dominica, Anguilla, Antigua, Montserrat and Belize, and specific project components related to human resource development, heritage resource assessment, women in development and land use planning. Issues addressed during the project include solid and liquid waste disposal, urbanization and land management problems, wildlife to its participation in tourism assignments;

Aruba: Sociao-economic Impact Analysis of a Proposed Major Tourism Expansion:  The Government of Aruba asked the proponent to engage Blackstone to assess the impact on the long-term social, economic and environmental consequences of the development of 5,000 new tourism rooms in a previously undeveloped part of the island.

“Conserver Values Study” and “Conserver Values in the Workplace” (Ontario Ministry of Environment) MOE engaged Blackstone to undertake two major research projects to evaluate conserver and consumer values, attitudes and behaviours, in the context of current and possible future government initiatives leading towards greater sustainability.

Development of Toronto as a Green Tourism Destination (City of Toronto): The purpose was to both determine the feasibility of developing Toronto as a green and “urban ecotourism” destination and to encourage sustainable practices among the City’s many tourism businesses.
OECS Solid Waste Management Solutions Related to Cruise Ship and Land-Based Waste (World Bank)  Blackstone oversaw this project and undertook socio-economic and tourism aspects of this World Bank-funded assignment, including consideration of institutional, legislative, cultural, land use planning, environmental education and awareness-building requirements related to the upgrading of solid waste management facilities on six islands, as well as opportunities for private sector involvement.