Socio-economic development brings the challenge of securing a better future for the present and next generations. Today, development is the main driver of social change and innovative strategies are needed to take advantage of the opportunities and minimize negative impacts.

The GCS Social Unit has been created to address the need of qualified specialist that will lead the way to best practises and tackle the challenges of social change. The unit involves experienced social scientist that can assist organizations, businesses and government to understand and improve their relationship with the communities in order to make development more sustainable.


Climate Change, the shortage of renewable natural resources and a fast growing population are some of the challenges that concerns our generation.

At GCS, a multidisciplinary team of professional are involved in assisting our clients to understand and manage the challenges of sustainability.


The Social Unit can provide integrated solutions to the complete life cycle of a project. Starting with baseline studies aimed at understanding the social dimension surrounding a project, followed by management and mitigations plans. The social services are custom made and can be adjusted to any industry, government plans and projects of the civil society.

Any social investment can increase the value of a project only if the benefits are maximized, mitigation plans are monitored and overall performance is reported.


Using data by location, revealing hidden patterns, relationships and trends that are not readily apparent in other conventional forms.

In the case of a Resettlement Plan, GIS is a useful tool to visualise data regarding the affected population and strategically use
geographic opportunities to improve the chances of success.

The following data can be georeferenced:

  • Impacted human settlements and public infrastructure locality maps.
  • Social and economic networks.
  • Alternative sites for resettlement land.


Leading the Social Unit at GCS, Mrs. Alexandra Maurtua Konstantinidi is a passionate social scientist (Bsoc Sc Hons) with more than 8 years of experience in social development in the mining industry. Alexandra has multilingual skills (English, Spanish, Portuguese and French).

Stakeholder engagement and social assessment


Stakeholder Engagement

Public participation is a statutory requirement in most, if not all, recently promulgated environmental legislation. In South Africa the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No 107 of 1998) (NEMA), forms the basis of stakeholder consultation. In addition, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No 28 of 2002) (MPRDA) and National Water Act (Act No 36 of 1998) places the responsibility on developers to ensure that stakeholders are involved in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process or Water Use License Application (WULA) process, as it may be, for any new development.

The participation of all interested and affected parties (I&APs) in environmental governance must be promoted, and all people must have the opportunity to develop the understanding, skills and capacity necessary for achieving equitable and effective participation. Furthermore, participation by vulnerable and disadvantaged persons must be ensured. The purpose of public participation is to ensure that I&APs are Provided with the opportunity to raise issues and concerns. GCS ensures that these are adequately addressed in the EIA process by conforming to the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Performance Standards for Stakeholder Engagement. The IFC views stakeholder engagement as the basis for building strong, constructive and responsive relationships essential for the successful management of impacts.

GCS has the necessary skills and experience to conduct public participation and community consultation processes. We understand the need to develop processes which are specific to the needs of the communities, ensure attention to detail and always conduct consultation in a professional manner. By adhering to international best practise guidelines, such as the IFC Performance Standards, similar processes are undertaken for countries across the African continent and our team has the necessary knowledge and expertise to adapt to the local legislative requirements.

Social and Economic Impact Assessment

In terms of NEMA and the MPRDA an EIA must determine the nature, extent, duration, probability and significance of the potential environmental, social and cultural impacts of proposed developments. Social and Economic Impact Assessment is normally undertaken as part of the EIA process and the public participation process can assist hugely with data collection and analysis. Social and Economic Impact Assessment attempts to predict the probable impact of a development on the day‐to‐day lives and activities of individuals and communities as well as the way they interact with one another. A number of African countries already included in their environmental legislation the requirement to combine the EIA process with a Social Impact Assessment, i.e. Social and Environmental Impact Assessment. Combining the biophysical and social components of impact assessment places GCS in a strategic position to apply its wide variety of in‐house skills in a holistic way.

Social and Labour Plans

Social and Labour Plans are also a pre‐requisite for the granting of mining or production rights in order to ensure the effective transformation in the mining and production industries. The Social and Labour Plan requires the applicant to report on a variety of elements, which include training, skills development and the economic development of the area in which they operate. In this regard, GCS is also able to assist our clients in identifying possible Local Economic Development Projects as well as Corporate Social Responsibility Projects. By combining our wide variety of skills, GCS is able to communicate effectively with the local authorities and communities to identify and facilitate the development of such projects.

In addition, the Department of Mineral Resources requires the holder of a mining right to submit an annual report on the compliance with the Social and Labour Plan. GCS can compile, audit and monitor social and Labour Plans to ensure that compliance with the MPRDA is achieved.

Various Social Product

A variety of other social products are offered, including among others:

  • Stakeholder Engagement and Public Participation
  • Facilitation of Stakeholder and Community interaction
  • Communication strategies
  • Feasibility studies
  • Social Risk Assessment
  • Socio‐Economic Impact Assessment
  • Baseline Social Surveys
  • Opinion polls
  • Community newsletters
  • Training
  • Social Audits (SIA and SLP)

GCS has established its own Social Unit under the umbrella of its Environmental Unit, with a team of experienced Social Scientists who have extensive experience in undertaking Social Assessments of any scale and nature. It is our objective to advise our clients on issues relating to the social environment and assist them in adhering to the principles of international best practice.

The Social Unit is in the unique position to guide our clients to achieve the best suitable solutions, whether these services are performed as part of environmental legislated processes, or conducted as independent projects. We approach each assignment on its individual merits and deliver a service that adds value to both internal and external decision‐makers, while offering an objective perspective to stakeholders at all levels.

Resettlement Services


In many countries throughout Africa, funders use the International Finance Corporation (IFC) performance
guidelines to enhance in-country Environmental Authorization Processes. GCS uses the IFC guidelines to provide guidance in the planning and execution of involuntary resettlement. IFC’s policy on involuntary resettlement applies to any project that may result in the loss of assets, the impairment of livelihood, or the physical relocation of an individual, household, or community.

Some of the key aspects GCS investigate during the Resettlement Investigation include:

  • Host population — Investigation into the people in or around areas where people are displaced due to a project.
  • Project-affected household — Investigation into all members of a household who are affected by a project.
  • Physical displacement — Reporting on the loss of shelter and assets resulting from the acquisition of land associated with a project that requires the affected person(s) to move to another location.
  • Economic displacement — Reporting on the loss of income streams or means of livelihood resulting from land acquisition or obstructed access to resources (land, water, or forest) resulting from the construction or operation of a project or its associated facilities.
  • Involuntary resettlement — Reporting on resettlement that is involuntary when it occurs without the informed consent of the displaced persons or if they give their consent without having the power to refuse resettlement.

Activities that would be followed during a Resettlement process include:

  • Identifying the scope of work
  • Resettlement Policy Framework
  • Resettlement Action Plan
    • Legal Framework
    • Compensation Framework
    • Livelihood restoration
    • Resettlement assistance
    • Budget and Implementation
    • Organisational Responsibilities
    • Consultation and Participation
    • Grievance Redress
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Resettlement Completion Audit

The key objective of the completion audit is to determine whether the sponsor’s efforts to restore the living standards of the affected population have been properly conceived and executed. The audit should evaluate whether the mitigation actions prescribed in the RAP have had the desired effect. The socioeconomic status of the affected population, should be measured against the baseline conditions of the population before displacement, as established through the census and socioeconomic studies.


A Social Impact Assessment should provide enough information to justify the need of implementing a Resettlement Action Plan but not necessarily indicates the viability of implementing this mitigation measure.

A feasibility study of the implementation of a RAP is needed to understand the scope of work, alternatives available and the associated risks.

International organizations have set high standards to implement a successful Resettlement Plan (World Bank, IFC, African Union). Local legislation usually follows these standards, incorporating local best practises, lessons learnt and cultural specifications that will make each RAP unique.

Once the RAP has been approved by all interested parties, the implementation phase will require ongoing
consultation with communities and authorities. It is key to manage expectations maintaining the population informed and involved in the process.

Ongoing Monitoring and Technical Assistance is required to comply with international reporting systems.


Generally host countries will require RAP approval prior to project initiation. Understanding the demands of the community, the legal framework and the socio-economic challenges of the area are key starting
points of a successful RAP.

Resettlement Action Plan Framework

Feasibility study for the successful implementation of a RAP. Analysis of local legislation, alternatives available and risk assessments.

Livelihood Restoration Plan

Solutions to alternative livelihood restoration plans. Scoping socio-economic opportunities for development. Identify indicators and monitor.

RAP Audits

Compare existing RAP with local legislation requirements and international standards. Budget and timeframes review. Issue recommendations.

Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) and Implementation Plan

Content will follow IFC Standard 5 framework and will be agreed with affected population. A master plan for RAP implementation will be included,. For approval and implementation local legislation applies.

Socio-economic Impact Assessment

Scoping and assessment of potential socio-economic impacts. Economic predictions are included. Consultation could be included.

Social Impact Assessment

Scoping and assessment of potential social impacts. It involves a detailed investigation and consultation with key stakeholders.

Economic Impact Assessment

Scoping and assessment of potential economic impacts. It involves a detailed investigation, scenario planning, predictions and alternatives.

Heritage and Archaeological Impact Assessment

Assessment of potential impacts on archaeological and heritage resources. Field-based studies will provide mapping and alternatives.

Health Impact Assessment

Scoping and assessment of potential impacts on the health of neighbouring communities. Management Plan included.

SEIA Management Plan

Proposal of management plans for each impact identified. Each plan aims to mitigate negative impacts and maximize positive ones.

Socio-economic Diagnosis

The Expectations and desires Survey is run to align the projects social objectives. A Diagnosis is developed to guide and re-direct Social Investments.

Heritage and Archaeological Management Plan

Measures to adopt to protect resources. Levels of cultural and historic importance will allow for different measures for different sites.

Social and Labour Plans (South Africa)

On application of a mining or production right, a Social and Labour Plan must be accompanied by law. Content and methodology as per legislation.

Resettlement Action Plan Framework

Feasibility study for the successful implementation of a RAP. Analysis of local legislation, alternatives available and risk assessments.

Livelihood Restoration Plan

Solutions to alternative livelihood restoration plans. Scoping socio-economic opportunities for development. Identify indicators and monitor.

RAP Audits

Compare existing RAP with local legislation requirements and international standards. Budget and timeframes review. Issue recommendations.

Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR planning based on socio-economic baselines, impact assessments and company policies for social investment. Monitoring and reporting.

Closure Plan

Critical analysis of possible socio-economic impacts related to project closure. Scenario planning, economic predictions and MPs.

Grievance Procedure and Communication Plan

Implementation of mechanisms to receive and solve complaints and provide feedback in a timely manner. Keep transparent and frequent communication with all stakeholders.

Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) and Implementation Plan

Content will follow IFC Standard 5 framework and will be agreed with affected population. A master plan for RAP implementation will be included. For approval and implementation local legislation applies.

Human Rights Audits

Identification of the project impacts on the human rights of third parties. Status report. Recommendations to address and repair violation of HR. Monitoring and reporting.

For all Social enquiries please contact: Alexandra M. Konstantinidi – Tel: (31) 764 7130 alexandrak@gcs-sa.biz