The findings of a SIA, prior to policy implementation, reveal where the need for measures to reduce or eliminate significant negative impacts are most likely to arise (within different country groupings and under different scenarios). They also indicate the types of impacts - economic, social or environmental - which are involved in each case.
Target and process indicators are used in SIA to evaluate whether policies (economic, social and environmental policies) are consistent with sustainable development principles (e.g. polluter pays principle, user pays principle, precautionary principle, reduction in income and gender inequalities etc.) and whether the regulatory and institutional capacities to implement these policies exist in the countries concerned and are being effectively used.
SIA indicators can include: average real income; net fixed capital formation; employment equity and poverty; health and education; gender inequalities; environmental quality (air, water, land); biological diversity and other natural resource stocks.
SIA can use the following significance criteria for evaluating impacts: extent of existing economic, social and environmental stress in affected areas; direction of changes in base-line conditions; nature, order of magnitude, geographic extent and duration of changes; regulatory and institutional capacity to implement mitigatory measures.