pp2Public participation is a continuous two way communication process aimed at promoting full public understanding of the processes and mechanisms through which environmental problems and needs are investigated and solved by the responsible agency. It is aimed at keeping the public informed about the status and progress of the studies conducted and the implications of the project thereof as well as documenting all issues, comments and concerns voiced by the public and their preferences regarding resource use and alternative development or management strategies and any other information and assistance relative to the decision.

The Stakeholder Engagement Process as it is referred to by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) is a “…process leading to a joint effort by stakeholders, technical specialists, the authorities and the proponent who work together to produce better decisions than if they had acted independently”. The process aims at improving “…communication between stakeholders – including the proponent – in the interest of facilitating better decision-making and or sustainable development”.

pp3Sustainable developments require some level of trade-off between economic growth, social equity and ecological integrity. The stakeholder engagement process provides an opportunity for Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs) to participate in an informed bases and ensure their needs and requirements are considered and allows the decision-making authority to understand to what degree stakeholders are willing to accept and live with the tradeoffs involved (Information series 3, Integrated Environmental Management Information Series, 2002).

The objectives of the stakeholder engagement process for the project can thus be summarised as follows:

  • to inform and provide the public with information and an understanding of the project, issues and solutions;
  • identify relevant individuals, organisations and communities who may be interested in or affected by the proposed activity;
  • identify key issues and concerns, raised by I&APs, that should be addressed in the subsequent specialist investigations which are part of the environmental authorisation process;
  • identify shortcomings and gaps in existing information;
  • identify viable project alternatives that will assist the relevant authorities in making an informed decision;
  • clearly outline the scope of the project, including the scale and nature of the proposed activity; and
  • highlight the potential for environmental impacts, whether positive or negative.

pp1

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