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

Draft for Consultation and Comment
Version 22 August 2016

7.2 Level of public participation expected

  1. The Scoping step is critical to determining what will be considered during the detailed EIA investigation step. Therefore, it is vital that stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input to these determinations so that their interests and concerns are included early on . The minimum level of public participation expected at the Scoping step is the Consult Level on the participation spectrum, with the understanding that adopting the Involve Level (i.e. joint identification of project alternatives) or even Collaborate Level (i.e.. reaching consensus on the Public Participation Plan) could lead to a more widely-endorsed Scoping Report and ToR, which in turn could facilitate a smoother EIA investigation. Public participation that only meets the Inform Level is insufficient at the Scoping step because it does not include any opportunities for feedback from the PAP or other stakeholders.
  1. To ensure public participation at the Scoping step is meaningful and fulfils its purpose, it must be undertaken in such a way as to achieve three key objectives:
    1. PAP and stakeholders need first to be informed about the proposed project.
    2. Once informed , and having been given reasonable time to consider the proposal, the PAP and stakeholders should then be consulted on the key issues that might affect them, their community, their livelihoods, the environment and any other concerns.
    3. Having had the opportunity to provide their views, the PAP and stakeholders should be presented with an opportunity to review the draft ToR and Public Participation Plan to ensure they contain all the important issues for consideration during the EIA investigation.
  1. The number of meetings, and the specific engagement techniques, required to achieve meaningful public participation at the Scoping step will vary depending on the nature of the proposed project, its location, and the level of existing awareness of the proposal amongst the stakeholders. This generally, however, requires the Scoping step to have at least two meetings with PAP and stakeholders, not including any additional meetings specifically to ensure the views of women or other vulnerable groups are adequately considered. These meetings are key to building trust over time with all stakeholders and the EIA process. This can rarely be achieved in just one meeting. It is the responsibility of the EIA consultant to determine, based on the particular circumstances and in negotiation with the project proponent, the exact number of meetings that will be required.
  1. Prior to each meeting, the EIA consultant should contact by notification letter to the villages and communities that may be impacted by the project. This should be done at least two weeks in advance to ensure that there is enough time to gather the community together at a time and place that is convenient for the stakeholders. The first meeting should be to provide information to the community and to plan the next meetings with the PAP.
  1. The first engagement

    The first engagement - often in the form of a meeting close to the proposed project site - is to inform the PAP and stakeholders of the proposed project (including potential impacts already identified), outline the EIA process, and explain the public participation to be undertaken (including starting the request for input in the Scoping step). While some of this information may have already been conveyed during the Screening step or even earlier, the up-to-date situation needs to be explained at the beginning of the Scoping step. The first meeting should include the community leaders and political leaders of the villages or areas that are likely to be affected by the project, representatives of women, minorities, or other vulnerable groups, as well as representatives of local authorities. This first meeting will also help the EIA consultant identify who should be consulted in the future and what information should be provided.

  1. The second (and any subsequent) engagements

    The second and following engagements - whether meetings or other techniques such as focus group discussions - are to solicit concerns and issues from the PAP and other stakeholders for incorporation into the Scoping report, and to present and seek feedback on the draft reports. These are the meetings, usually held at the local level, where the PAP will be given more detailed information about the EIA process and the Public Participation Plan. In addition, these meetings will allow the PAP and other stakeholders to ask questions and raise issues and concerns about the project to be addressed during the EIA investigation. These can also be an opportunity to address the specific engagement needs of women and vulnerable groups. Finally, these meetings should involve the presentation of the draft ToR for the EIA investigation and draft Public Participation Plan for local communities to review and provide feedback on.

  1. At the Scoping step, these meetings are to exchange ideas and information. While Scoping occurs before the detailed assessment has been conducted, Scoping can be used to obtain information from the PAP about local environmental values and possible impacts. This could include what plants and animals are in the region or possible risks to the livelihoods of the community from the project.
Table 6: Scoping engagement summary

Who should be Involved?

Who is responsible for making arrangements?

What are the desired outcomes?

1st engagement (early in Scoping)

PAP and other stakeholders

Specific attention should be made to include women and vulnerable groups

Relevant local authorities

Project proponent and EIA consultant

Translator/s

EIA consultant, in coordination with the local community leaders

To inform the PAP and stakeholders of the project proposal

To inform the PAP and stakeholders of the EIA process

To set the date for the next Scoping Meeting

2nd engagement

PAP and other stakeholders

Local authorities

Project proponent and EIA consultant

Translator/s

This meeting should also include separate meetings for men and women (with women facilitators) and then a combined meeting

EIA consultant, in cooperation with local community representatives

To elicit initial feedback and ideas from the PAP and other stakeholders (e.g. consult) on issues that should be included in the ToR

To inform and consult with the PAP of the proposed Public Participation Plan that will include future meetings and provision of information

Subsequent engagements

PAP at the local level and local CSOs

This could also include those indirectly impacted and national NGOs with an interest in the area or the project

Local authorities

Project proponent and EIA consultant

Translator/s

EIA consultant, in cooperation with local community representatives

To present draft ToR and seek feedback (e.g. consult) on whether it includes those issues of concern to PAP and other stakeholders

  1. The cost of organizing and holding these meetings is the responsibility of the EIA consultant, who will have to ensure that their contract with the project proponent covers such costs. This could include venue hire, provision of information and other materials, costs associated with the attendance of government officials or other participants, and any refreshments that will need to be provided.
  1. The Scoping Report and the final ToR should be made publically available by the project proponent, following approval by the EIA Authority where relevant. The Scoping Report should also include a Public Participation Plan that will be used by the proponent (and their EIA consultant) to inform and consult ;with the PAP and stakeholders during the EIA Investigation step. A sample template for a Public Participation Plan is provided in Annex III.

Questions