chapter  6
Public participation in environmental decision-making: international best practice principles
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In view of the established invaluableness of adequate and meaningful public participation in environmental decision-making processes, the concept is a fundamental one in international environmental law. Given this premise, the aim of this chapter is critically to evaluate what may generally be considered international best practice in terms of law and practice on public access to, or participation in, environmental decision-making processes that could effectively ensure adequate access in this regard. This discussion will generally clarify and provide further understanding of the development of this area of procedural environmental rights, as well as providing a reasonable and useful comparative basis on which to analyse and recommend improvements to Nigerian law and practice on access to environmental decision-making processes in the subsequent chapter. The framing of the international best practice principles in this chapter will

have the relevant provisions of the Aarhus Convention as its central theme, which Convention, according to Applestrand, can ensure that public participation has ‘a decisive influence on the outcome of the decision-making process’ and is ‘neither an illusory spectacle, delivering nothing more than a veneer of democratic participation, nor merely a pro forma matter’.1 There is also the publication by the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA)2 entitled ‘Public Participation – International Best Practice Principles’,3 which principles are generally in alignment with the relevant provisions of the Aarhus Convention and will be referred to below.