Dilemma in Community level Environmental Assessment
Environmental Assessment Stakeholders
It is rarely enough to limit consultation to community leaders -- only for the most uncomplicated assessments will this be sufficient. While the support of leaders is generally vital to a project's success, their opinions may not be as relevant as those community members who are more directly affected. It may be much more helpful, for example, to canvass the opinions of artisans, farmers, health workers, neighbourhood merchants or women who collect firewood.
The EA team should identify the key stakeholders as early as possible in the process. As mentioned before, it is quite possible that stakeholders will hold conflicting views. It is also important to be aware that the key stakeholders in an EA may be different than the project's intended beneficiaries. Stakeholders may include marginalised groups such as the poor. The EA team must make a concerted effort to reach out to such groups. As the World Bank points out, there are no blueprints for identifying stakeholders (World Bank 1994: 88). However, the following basic questions can help.
Although the questions below were not specifically formulated for EAs, they can be used to get the process started.
- Who might be affected (positively or negatively) by the development concern to be addressed?
- Who are the "voiceless" for whom special efforts may have to be made?
- Who are the representatives of those who are likely to be affected?
- Who are responsible for those who are likely to be affected?
- Who is likely to mobilise for or against what is intended?
- Who can make what is intended more effective through their participation, or less effective by their non-participation or outright opposition?
- Whose behaviour has to change for the effort to succeed? (World Bank 1994: 88).
Once stakeholders have been identified, a planning meeting can be held between community leaders, the EA team and the stakeholders to explain the next steps in the assessment.
Conducting an Effective Environmental Assessment