Development projects deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits and costs. Benefits and costs of development projects are not always distributed equally among stake-holders and sometimes the meaning of benefits and costs are defined differently. Therefore, development projects accompanies with environmental conflicts. Environmental conflicts make social costs increase. The best desirable solution for environmental conflicts with the least social costs is to resolve causes of environmental conflicts or to mitigate them in advance. Environmental impacts assessments(EIAs), required before proposed development projects go into effect, have dual potential. Improper EIAs may cause environmental conflicts. EIAs are undertaken properly, however, environmental conflicts can be prevented and mitigated. In order to prevent, mitigate or resolve environmental conflicts, not only the scope and time of public involvement need to be expanded and the way of public involvement need to be diversified, but also the current socio-economic impact assessment should be amended and strengthened. Social impact assessments are enacted in most developed countries based on the idea that development projects have impacts on social, cultural, political and economic environment beyond impacts on the biophysical environment. Social impact assessment can contribute to developing strategies to mitigate social conflicts by predicting social impacts of the proposed projects and developing project alternatives. Social impact assessments can fully realize when they are enacted through proper public involvement processes.
[Key Words: 환경영향평가, 환경갈등, 시민참여, 사회영향평가]