Title: Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making 
Resource Type: document --> technical publication --> book / book chapter(s) 
Country: USA 
Year of publication: 2008 
Author 1/Producer: National Research Council 
Other Authors/Producers: Thomas Dietz and Paul C. Stern, Editors, Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making, National Research Council 
Author / Producer Type: University research group / research institute 
ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0-309-12543-7 
Report / download web link (=direct link): http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12434  
EUGRIS Keyword(s): Contaminated land-->Wider impacts / sustainability-->Social
Short description: Well-designed public consultations improve environmental decision-making according to a new report from the US National Research Council (NRC). It also increases the legitimacy of these decisions for those affected by them, making it more likely that the decisions will be implemented effectively. The NRC report makes a series of specific recommendations to get the best out of public participation in environmental decision-making. One key message from the study is that there is no single model for how to involve the public in a decision-making process - consultations must be carefully planned and matched to the context of the type of assessment being carried out. This report is a step towards that, but the NRC calls for social science research to address this specific issue in the future. The NRC established the Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making to carry out this report. The aim was to assess whether, and under what conditions, public participation achieves the desired outcomes - where a decision is reached after consideration of all affected parties and where all affected feel their views have been taken into account. Advocates have long argued that those members of the public affected by a particular environmental plan must be consulted and involved. But critics point out that this slows the assessment process and hampers the quality of the final decision. The new study describes how to avoid these pitfalls and to use consultation to enhance public trust. It also explains how to build and evolve the process of public consultation to undertake better environmental assessment. The report recommends that consultation should be fully incorporated into environmental assessment as a mandatory part of the process, not just a formality. It stresses that the public must have good faith that their views will be taken seriously and incorporated into the final decision as, without public confidence, the exercise is futile. The report also presents checklists of requirements for best practice. This includes a list of prerequisites for agencies undertaking public consultation to ensure that they have: clarity of purpose a commitment to use the findings from the process to inform their decisions adequate resources for the whole process a commitment to learn from experience and seek feedback so that future consltation processes can be modified and improved. # Finally the report proposes that social science research into public participation should be conducted by any agency or organisation planning to carry it out. Open and shared results from such studies would help inform the design of future consultations. 
Submitted By: Professor Paul Bardos WhoDoesWhat?      Last update: 10/10/2008

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