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Political Opportunity and Public Participation: EIA in Northern Canada and South Africa

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Title: Political Opportunity and Public Participation: EIA in Northern Canada and South Africa
Author: Boyco, Morgan Walter
Department: School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Program: Rural Planning and Development
Advisor: Devlin, John
Abstract: This research critically examines the process of public participation in the politically contested arena of environmental impact assessment (EIA) in two case studies: the Ekati diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories and the Richards Bay Minerals project in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Each case offers the chance to examine and compare the potentialities of expanded public participation in EIA and the promise of deliberative environmental decision-making. The concept of deliberative public participation has become the new normative standard for citizen engagement in numerous planning and policy-making processes, including EIA. It calls for increased participation by previously disadvantaged communities in the decisions that affect them through multi-stakeholder dialogue. Addressing the need for a realistic assessment of deliberative democratic practice, this study explores the limits of deliberative process by looking at specific examples of EIA, bringing into focus political processes, power relations and the structural conditions affecting citizen engagement.
Date: 2010-12
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