Basically, when we hear talk about social, economic and environmental impact in the context of sustainability, we have impact assessment (measures, indicators) in mind.
This term originates from evaluation research and, as Schäfer, M; Bergmann M., Theiler L. (2021: 485) notice “before transdisciplinarity became a widespread research mode, the criteria ‘input—throughput—output’ have commonly been applied (Hornbostel 1999). This means that the research process ceased with the research results (output) without considering its effects. With the growing importance of TDR [transdisciplinary research], discussions within academia itself, but above all in research policy, shifted their focus from the research results to the societal impact achieved. Consequently, the criteria then were modified to (input-)output—outcome—impact.
There are various methods, approaches and frameworks of impact assessment (input-output matrix, cost-benefit analysis, modelling, back casting, forecasting etc.), however many experts agree that sustainability impact assessment should include three main dimensions: society, economy and environment, and this approach known as the SIA is promoted in many programmes and by many organisations, including the OECD.
Thus, in a broad sense, social and economic impact assessment is a methodical procedure in which pros and cons for a whole community or various social and economic processes are shown and studied, and environmental issues apply to measure any impact on natural environment. Here, the aim of the assessment is to explore, understand and evaluate the objective of a given plan/program/policy or intervention along with associated eventual impacts (Ramanathan and Geetha, 2012)
A broad range of methods, techniques and tools is used in impact assessment. Weißhuhn et al. (2018) on a base of systematic review of 171 papers on agricultural research published between 2008 and 2016, classify applied methods as following: