People's Participation in Environmental Assessment in Latin America: Best Practices
William L. Partridge
Genuine participation in the development process on the part of beneficiaries and other affected people is critical to sound project design, effective implementation, efficient management and sustainability. Nowhere is this more evident than in environmental assessment (EA). People's participation in EA of development investments is recognized as key to the identification of environmental impacts as well as to the design of adequate mitigation measures proposed to address them. The Bank has made public participation an integral element of its EA policy since 1989. Yet for the Bank and many borrower governments in LAC, environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the general public, popular participation in decisionmaking about future development investments and their environmental impacts is a new experience. To learn the lessons of the LAC region's early experience with fostering people's participation in EA, the LATEN division undertook a review of all EAs completed from fiscal 1989 through fiscal 1994. This report contains the results of that review together with recommendations regarding best practices that should be utilized in the future to improve the degree of popular participation in EA work for proposed Bank investments.Important progress has been made in the last few years to strengthen the role of public consultation and participation in EA work, yet there is still a long way to go to fully implement the Bank's policies on popular participation. To place the progress made in perspective it is useful to consider the following context.
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