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

Draft for Consultation and Comment
Version 22 August 2016

8.2 Level of public participation expected

  1. The EIA investigation step should involve public participation in line with the following principles:
    • Compliance with the Public Participation Plan in the approved ToR (and/or Scoping Report) for the EIA.
    • Keeping PAP and stakeholders informed of progress and findings.
    • Consulting and Involving (and where possible, collaborating with) PAP and stakeholders both before the investigation is complete and again before the report is finalized.
  1. Accordingly, the minimum levels of public participation expected at the EIA investigation step are the Inform, Consult and Involve Levels on the public participation spectrum, with the understanding that adopting the Collaborate Level could generate enhanced impact avoidance, management and mitigation measures that are more acceptable to all parties (including the project proponent).
  1. As with the Screening and Scoping steps, ensuring that public participation is meaningful during the EIA report preparation step requires that PAP and stakeholders:
    1. first, are informed about the proposed project, including its background and the Public Participation Plan, and have full information and sufficient time to consider that information;
    2. second, have the opportunity through consultation to contribute their views and knowledge during the EIA investigation;
    3. third, have the opportunity to provide feedback on the investigation, findings and analysis;
    4. fourth, have the opportunity to formally comment on a draft EIA Report before it is finalized and submitted to the EIA Authority for review; and
    5. finally, have access to the submitted EIA Report.
  1. The number and type of engagements required to achieve this level of meaningful public participation will vary depending on the nature of the proposed project, its location, and the level of existing awareness of the proposal amongst the stakeholders – including, of course, the extent of public participation already undertaken in the Screening and Scoping steps. Generally, at least two meetings with PAP and stakeholders, and separate meetings with women, will be required during the EIA preparation step. It is the responsibility of the EIA consultant to determine the exact number of meetings that will be required, consistent with the provisions outlined in the Public Participation Plan. Additional public participation engagement strategies to complement consultation meetings may also be required in some cases, depending on the size and nature of the proposed project and the nature of the affected community.
  1. The first meeting with the PAP and stakeholders should be arranged with enough notice for the community – generally at least one or two weeks’ notice. The meeting should be arranged with the local community leader but must include all the PAP (including women, ethnic minorities, and other vulnerable groups) and not just the political leadership group.
  1. The PAP and stakeholders must be given at least two weeks to consider any information presented to them. It is not enough to provide information to PAP unless there is also time for the PAP to read and consider that information, before being able to respond to the issues contained in the information.
Table 9: EIA investigation and reporting step - engagement summary

Nature/objective of engagement

Who should be Involved?

Who is responsible for the arrangements?

What are the desired outcomes?

Informing meetings (early in the investigation step)

PAP at the local level

Local CSOs

Relevant local authorities

Project Proponent

Project proponent, EIA consultant in cooperation with relevant local authorities, and the local community leaders

To inform the PAP of the project proposal, the Public Participation Plan and the ToR for the EIA investigation

To identify sources of information within the PAP and stakeholders that could contribute to the research and analysis in the investigation

Consultation meetings (during the EIA investigation and data gathering)

PAP at the local level

Local CSOs

Relevant local authorities

Technical and scientific experts (if requested by the community or otherwise considered necessary)

Project Proponent

Translator/s

EIA consultant in cooperation with relevant local authorities and the local community leaders

To enable the PAP and stakeholders to contribute their knowledge, experience and views on the local environment and project proposal into the EIA data gathering process.

To explain to the PAP and stakeholders the early and ongoing findings regarding the investigation findings, potential project impacts and analysis – including measures to address these impacts.

To provide the PAP and stakeholders the opportunity to respond to, and present their perspectives on, these findings and analyses.

Meetings on Draft EIA Report (before the report is finalized and with sufficient time to incorporate changes following the meeting before submission to the EIA Authority)

PAP at the local level

Local and national CSOs

Relevant national government and local authorities

Technical and scientific experts

Project proponent

Translator/s

EIA consultant in cooperation with local community representatives

To present the draft EIA report, explain the findings of the investigation (including the impacts, alternatives, avoidance and mitigation measures and EMMP) and how the PAP and other stakeholders’ views have been incorporated.

To provide information about benefits, compensation and grievance mechanisms for the PAP.

To give the PAP and stakeholders an opportunity to respond to the draft EIA Report before it is finalized and submitted to the EIA Authority.

Other engagements (to complement consultation meetings)

Stakeholders relevant to the engagement technique and objective

Project proponent and EIA consultant

Translator/s

EIA consultant

To gather information and views from specific stakeholders (e.g. specific vulnerable groups, or technical experts)

To seek feedback on specific elements of the EIA from PAP (e.g. draft Resettlement Action Plan)

  1. The EIA Report should contain a very clear and detailed explanation of the public participation that has been undertaken, including how the input from the PAP and other stakeholders has been incorporated into the analysis and findings. Disseminating the public’s input to decision makers, via the EIA Report, and back to the public at large creates a “feedback loop” that helps demonstrate to the public that their time and effort has been well invested and that their comments and concerns have been understood and accurately communicated to project proponents, decision makers, and considered in the EIA investigation. It also shows the public how their input has been translated and contributed to the project.
  1. The submitted EIA Report should be accompanied by a declaration from the EIA consultant of its accuracy, completeness, and consistency with the approved ToR (including the Public Participation Plan).

Questions