Regional Guidelines on Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Draft for Consultation and Comment
Version 22 August 2016

4. General Principles of Meaningful Public Participation

4.1 Background to public participation and its benefits

  1. Public participation, also referred to as stakeholder engagement, is an integral part of the environmental assessment process. Internationally, public participation has been specifically identified in the Rio Declaration of 1992 and has been accepted as a core part of EIA since the beginnings of EIA in the 1970s.
  1. Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration

    Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided. [15]

  1. Some benefits of meaningful participation are difficult to quantify, such as better decision-making or the development of greater trust in government agencies. Other benefits, such as better project design or efficient environmental management or an effective grievance process, may also be difficult to measure but can provide real benefits to the communities affected by development.

[15] United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janiero, Braz., June 3-14, 1992, Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.151/26/Rev.1 (Vol. I), Annex I (Aug. 12, 1992), Principle 10.