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Stakeholder participation within the public environmental system in Chile: Major gaps between theory and practice

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jaime AmezagaORCiD


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The main objective of this paper is to present a critical analysis of the stakeholder participation process within the Environmental Impact Assessment System in Chile, after ca. 14 years of being enforced. This analysis is sustained by the description and analysis of the stakeholder participation possibilities in a representative rural area of North-Central Chile. The Environmental Basis Act 19300, enacted in 1994, considers the participation of the local community in the environmental impact assessment of new projects. However, this possibility is very limited and difficult to exert, often resulting in frustration for the participants. This is due to a number of reasons, such as the imbalance of resources and knowledge among the majority of participating communities and project proponents, the complexity and administrative and legal constraints to participation, and the dominant interest of the Central Government in approving investments, specifically in energy and natural resources related projects, which generate wealth and jobs. Also, the State's rush to develop Internet-based communication and management systems has built a barrier for poor, traditional communities. This factor is clearly reflected in the case study considered. Results show that there is generally a significant lack of knowledge about institutions and participation tools. From this base, we intend to raise concern on these selected aspects that could be addressed to improve the effectiveness of the existing framework, both in Chile and in other developing countries, where immature environmental impact assessment and public management systems face similar pressures in relation to the sustainable use of their natural resources. Finally, some basic steps are proposed in order to make the community participation an effective tool for sustainable development. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lostarnau C, Oyarzún J, Maturana H, Soto G, Señoret M, Soto M, Rötting TS, Amezaga JM, Oyarzún R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Environmental Management

Year: 2011

Volume: 92

Issue: 10

Pages: 2470-2478

Print publication date: 03/06/2011

ISSN (print): 0301-4797

ISSN (electronic): 1095-8630

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2011.05.008


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Funder referenceFunder name
DIULS CD093401Research Office of the University of La Serena
INCO-CT2006-032539European Commission