Stakeholder engagement in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Health Impact Assessment (HIA) provides opportunities for inclusive environmental decision-making contributing to the attainment of agreement about the potential environmental and health impacts of a plan. A case evaluation of stakeholder engagement was carried out to assess its effect in terms of consensus-building. The case consisted in two health impact scoping workshops engaging 20 stakeholders: policy-makers, experts and residents. A Participatory Action Research approach was adopted. Methods included observation, semi-structured questionnaires and interviews. Analysis methods consisted of several coding rounds, in-depth reading and discussion of Atlas.ti output reports, as well as studying questionnaire results. Participants reported a broadening of perspectives on health in relation to the environment and attainment of shared perspectives. Still, meaningful differences remained, indicating that joint learning experiences, trust and mutual respect created a ‘sense of consensus’ rather than a joint view on the issues at stake. To avoid disappointment and conflict in later project development, explicit acknowledgment and acceptance of disagreements should be included as a ground rule in future stakeholder engagement processes.
Den Broeder, L., Chung, K. Y., Geelen, L., Scholtes, M., Schuit, A. J., & Wagemakers, A. (2016). We are all experts! Does stakeholder engagement in health impact scoping lead to consensus? A Dutch case study. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 34(4), 294-305. https://doi.org/10.1080/14615517.2016.1176413