Public participation is a process of involving the public in a programme, project or policy. The inclusion of public participation in such processes is considered as a requirement: all people and all human beings….shall have the right to live in dignity and freedom and to enjoy the fruits of social progress and should, on their part, contribute to it. (U.N, 1975:1).
Social progress and development require the full utilization of human resources, including the encouragement of creativity under conditions of enlightened public opinion. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an instrument of environmental policy defined as a study to assess the environmental impact of planned activity. EIA is a tool for decision making about the perceived feasibility of the planned activity. Thus, the public is encouraged to take part in the EIA process.
In Indonesia, the Environmental Management Act 23 of 1997 ( a revision of Act no. 4 of 1982) states that every person has the right to have environmental information related to environmental management.
This is applied to a proposed project in a certain location for which an EIA is required. Local people do have the right to have information about proposed projects to be built in their area. With such information, people can provide suggestions and comments and can raise concerns. Article 6 of the Act states that every person who proposes a project is obliged to provide right and accurate information.
This means that the project proponent must provide information about the project description. This paper reviews the practice of public involvement in the EIA process and proposes new mechanisms and techniques which are socially and culturally appropriate in the Indonesian context.
Download this UNEP EIA Training Resource Manual at http://www.unep.ch/etu/publications/15)%2075%20to%2083.pdf