BOX 6-3

Empirically Supported Principles of Practice for Environmental Public Participation


Clarity of purpose

Commitment to use the process to inform decisions

Adequate resources

Appropriate timing

Implementation focus

Commitment to learning


Inclusiveness of participation

Collaborative problem formulation and process design

Transparency of process

Good-faith communication


Iteration between analysis and broadly based deliberation with:

  • availability of decision-relevant information

  • explicit attention to both facts and values

  • explicitness about analytic assumptions and uncertainties

  • independent review

  • reconsideration of past conclusions

participants select from among the great variety of available formats and practices those that may help address the particular difficulties they can expect to encounter.

However, there are limits in offering prescriptions. As the following chapters show, it is neither possible nor advisable to identify any single “best practice” for conducting public participation or even for overcoming particular difficulties that certain contexts present. Rather, the best that can be done after identifying the likely difficulties is to select practices collaboratively to try to address them and then to monitor the process to see whether the practices are accomplishing the desired results, keeping open the possibility of changing practices or formats when they are unsuccessful.

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