Guide (Practical Advice) for the Involvement of the Public in the Process of the EIA
GUIDE (Practical Advice) for the Involvement of the Public in the Process of the Environmental Impact Assessment2007-12-22
This Guide is intended for the organiser (contracting authority) of planned economic activities, the person preparing environmental impact assessment documents, those who provide information to the public about the environmental impact assessment of planed economic activities, the involvement of the public in the process of the environmental impact assessment, and to those who organise public introduction of the report of the environmental impact assessment of planed economic activities to the public.
In order to make the co-operation with the public more efficient, we hereby present several recommendations:
1. To pay attention to each and every person
- To help offer an opinion;
- To be able to listen attentively and patiently, even to those people that do not have any specific motives.
2. To be fair, not to insist on his opinion
- To start discussion only after listening to the opinion of people;
- Be tolerant while listening to the others, and be prepared to slightly change your own opinion.
3. To create a favourable atmosphere for co-operation, to avoid conflicts
- To be self-confident even if opinions differ a lot;
- To respect and tolerate the difference in opinions during the meeting.
4. To express yourself simply and clearly
- Members of the society are not equal in education. Every person must be able to understand the thought expressed. One should avoid expressing himself in technical or scientific terms.
5. To hold a meeting in premises well known to the public
- People must feel comfortable;
- Choose a place with an easy access (public transportation, etc.);
- Premises should be spacious enough and have sufficient sitting accommodations (please provide for the opportunity to bring in extra chairs, if necessary);
- Premises should have equipment allowing conveying audiovisual information (please check whether the equipment is operating, whether the quality of sound is good, and whether it has sufficient extension wires; please find out who is the contact person in case of any problem related to the equipment).
6. To select the time for the meeting that would be convenient for the public (e.g. an hour after the end of the working day, so that people would be able to get ready).
7. The presenter must be well informed about the planned economic activity and the site, and he can use the help of a well-known person who understands the specific character of the planned activities
- A public figure is more acceptable to the people; therefore, the communication becomes easier.
8. Persons preparing environmental impact assessment documents may directly communicate with the audience (e.g. to sit with the audience in the hall and to directly communicate).
9. To provide information before the meeting
- To hand out material by delivering it to people’s homes or sending by mail, so that people can have original information about the planned economic activity in advance.
10. To make visual material as simple as possible, illustrated and easy to understand to each person; to prepare visual aids, if possible
- Video and graphic material should be illustrated (e.g. the detailed, etc. plan).
11. To try and get the necessary information from people during the meeting
- Commence the event at the announced time; do not be late;
- While registering participants ask them (and make a note to yourself) whether they intend to speak at the meeting;
- If you hand out pens and paper, it will be easier for people to take notes or to even make written comments;
- Talk about the nature and objective of the event and about the possible influence of the society on the issue under discussion;
- Name people who are going to speak at the meeting;
- Tell people how the comments will be written down (recorded) and how they will be discussed;
- Ask people who registered in advance to speak; in this case attention will be ensured for all requests and there will be less spontaneous comments;
- Please remember that local residents may have information that neither the person preparing environmental impact assessment documents nor public authorities, nor local municipal authority has.
12. While presenting the report on the environmental impact assessment of planned economic activities the person preparing environmental impact assessment documents must provide as much detailed information as possible
- Know the limits of your activities (even if you are extremely successful, you will not be able to solve all global problems); always be direct and fair, explain what you can and cannot offer in each situation. Clearly explain to the participants whom they can and cannot influence in the given situation or activity.
13. If the economic activity is planned in the site where the majority of residents are of other nationalities, try to communicate in the native language of these people, use interpreters.
14. Before the meeting try to talk to people that are respected by the community in order to get information about the traditions of that community and to properly introduce the planned economic activity to them. They can pass this information on to the members of their community.
15. To engage the mass media
- Please think how to make this event interesting for the mass media. Maybe it is worthwhile preparing material, such as pictures, interviews or an article in advance?
- Prepare information for the mass media and for residents, which you will distribute on site or directly to the residents;
- In order to make information about planned economic activities and the expected environmental impact known on a wider scale (published in newspapers or announced on TV).
16. Positive dialogue
- Public discussions often involve the discussion of conflicts between the parties using the Q and A method. A positive dialogue or discussions aimed at the solution of problems may be the key to success. This would allow the participants to understand compromises that an EIA document may present and to minimise the uncertainty related to the planning process and the expected results.