Local and non-specialist participation in impact assessment

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    Major development projects are often conceptualised and justified at scales beyond the local. Yet their impacts are often most directly experienced, and most controversial and contested, at more local scales. This paradox presents both development projects’ advocates and managers and the populations and groups they affect with a range of difficulties in identifying, understanding and managing direct and indirect costs and benefits of the development process. This chapter considers the issue of participation in project assessment by affected populations and relevant non-specialists. It suggests that impact assessment studies must consider the appropriate scales for participation, and then reviews conceptual, methodological and practical issues in fostering, managing and understanding non-specialists’ participation. The chapter’s basic argument is that dealing with social, environmental, economic and other impact assessment exercises as a set of technical tasks misunderstands the nature of the data that is relevant to the exercise and the interpretative and practical responses required to produce desirable, ethical and justifiable outcomes. Specifically, the chapter argues that non-specialist participation is fundamental to managing impacts (negative and positive) and achieving sustainable, beneficial outcomes at all scales from development projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationStrategic management of environmental and socio-economic Issues
    Subtitle of host publicationa handbook = Huan jing yu she hui jing ji wen ti de zhan lüe guan li
    EditorsCong-Qiang Liu, Zhenhua Zhoa, Tangfu Xiao, Jayanta Guha
    Place of PublicationGui yang, China
    PublisherGui zhou ke ji chu ban she
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)9787806622476
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • impact assessment
    • geographical scale
    • participation
    • methodology
    • social justice
    • social impact assessment


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