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

Draft for Consultation and Comment
Version 22 August 2016

4.3 Spectrum of public participation

  1. The understanding and application of public participation objectives, approaches, methods and practices has increased significantly over time. Given this broad range, choosing the most effective and relevant approach can be difficult. The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) has developed a spectrum to provide a framework for public participation, adapted in Figure 4 below.






Public participation goal

To provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding the problem, alternatives, opportunities and/or solutions.

To obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions.

To work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered.

To partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution.

To negotiate final decisions between the public and decision-makers

Promise to the public by project proponent and relevant authorities

We will keep you informed.

We will keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and aspirations, and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision.

We will work with you to ensure that your concerns and aspirations are directly reflected in the alternatives developed and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision.

We will look to you for advice and innovation in formulating solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into the decisions to the maximum extent possible.

We will implement what we agree upon.

Example techniques

  • Fact sheets
  • Websites
  • Posters and sign boards
  • Newspaper notices
  • Radio announcements

  • Public comment
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Public meetings

  • Workshops

  • Consensus building
  • Participatory decision making
  • Ballots
  • Delegated decision
  • Negotiations
Figure 4: Spectrum of public participation (adapted from International Association of Public Participation)
  1. The level of public participation employed should be commensurate with the overall goal and tailored to the specific project circumstances, and may vary throughout the different steps in the EIA process, depending on the specific aim for public involvement at that time.
  1. The range of public participation that is generally preferred at each step of the EIA process is summarized in the following figure and further detailed in Chapters 6 to 11 of the Guidelines.

EIA Step

Level of Participation








Investigation and Reporting



In some situations, such as where FPIC is applied


Figure 5: Range of public participation at each EIA step