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

Draft for Consultation and Comment
Version 22 August 2016

4.4 Public participation beyond the EIA process

  1. These Guidelines address public participation in the EIA process, which typically begins with the Screening step. One of the key means for ensuring that public participation is meaningful and effective is to start the engagement with PAP, vulnerable groups, and other stakeholders as early as possible in the project planning process. Oftentimes, there can be benefits of engaging stakeholders during the early project feasibility and pre-feasibility stages – even if there is limited information available about the project proposal - in order to:
    • begin to build relationships between the project proponent and the local community;
    • provide local stakeholders with early information about the project proposal;
    • engage stakeholders in the feasibility assessments for the project proposal; and
    • avoid and/or minimize potential social or environmental problems upfront at the early process of project conceptualization, design, and site selection.
  1. The project proponent should release as much information about the project concept or pre-feasibility work as possible at this early stage, to demonstrate a willingness to be transparent and accessible. This could also include explaining why certain information is not available at this step (e.g. for commercial-in-confidence or lack of knowledge). In addition, while project proponents’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies are separate to the impact mitigation measures adopted in an EIA and are not a formal part of an EIA, the principles of public participation outlined in these Guidelines can be relevant to guide the development of such CSR strategies.
  1. Public participation is also important for the entire EIA policy framework, which will require revisions and updates from time-to-time. In particular, countries that use categorized lists of projects for Screening purposes will need to revise these lists over time. The EIA Authority or other relevant government agencies should involve stakeholders in such policy discussions through dedicated public participation processes.