Conceptual and Methodological Advances
Edited by Henk A. Becker and Frank Vanclay
Chapter 16: Involving the Public
Richard Roberts Introduction The current practice of public involvement is, in many ways, the by-product of a cross-fertilization of populist ideas, the information revolution and widespread disenchantment with a society where neither industry nor elected oﬃcials appear to act ‘in the public interest’. Although it is very diﬃcult to ascertain a deﬁnite beginning, some analysts believe that the current form of public participation began at a ‘grassroots’ level and that community development and participation ‘just happened’, with the initiative coming from the people (Roberts, 1995). The last two to three decades have seen the development and implementation of environmental impact assessment (EIA), social impact assessment (SIA) and public involvement (PI) in many developed and developing countries around the world. The process, approach and ultimate form have varied greatly in diﬀerent countries. Similarly, the legal framework for these activities ranges from very formal, legislated requirements to much less formal policy or regulated approaches. In 1993, the World Bank set a precedent by requiring public consultation in EIAs for all projects which they are funding. The World Bank requires consultation with aﬀected groups in the very early stages of project design and planning and again when the draft EIA is prepared. The major change is that public participation is required for projects that aﬀect cultural and indigenous people, that involve involuntary resettlement (for example, associated with dams) or that depend on local responsibility for their success. As this is seen as a minimum requirement, many organizations...
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