Planning citizen participation with results: How to carry out effective public consultations?

Flavia Milano

Flavia Milano

Evidence shows that effective citizen participation planning has direct effects on the resources assigned to a project. Operations surrounding 5 billion dollars register losses of 20 million per week due to social conflicts. Case studies show that planning effective citizen participation -where public consultations are a part of that planning, contribute to the success of a private or public initiative.

A recent IDB study demonstrates that 68% of infrastructure projects that were linked to any sort of social and/or environmental conflict have in common a deficiency in capturing and providing information to those affected by the project, as well as a lack of dialogue that allows those in charge of the project to respond to real preoccupations among people, with regards to project information provided and decision-making process. Furthermore, many communities were not initially opposed to these projects, but became critical when they perceived they were not included in the decision-making process, or when information relating to the project was not shared with them.[1]

Along the same line, another IDB study identified that 47% of those who requested the intervention from the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (MICI) in projects did not have sufficient and timely information on them, or did not have access at all [2]. This argument concurs with the fact that 1 in 2 conflicts occur in the phases of feasibility, planning, and design [3].



The data highlights the need to understand the context, invest time and resources in information, dialogue, and map interested parties to hold effective public consultations. But, how to do it?

1). Mapping organizations and key people.

The geo-referenced platform WiConnect, indicates who does what, where, and how with regards to counterparts in the context of your initiative; and the development projects they are carrying out in Latin America and the Caribbean.

2). Inform:

Capture information to understand the context. When you capture perceptions and preoccupation from interested parties from an early stage in the project, their positions around your operations are better understood. Field visits and surveys are very effective instruments with smaller audiences and handling information from the past. In real time, the analysis of large volumes of information with artificial intelligence is relevant and can be found publicly Civiclytics.

Provide relevant information. Provide information about the initiative, but above all the information that responds to the audience queries is another fundamental part. Also, as part of the consultation process, it is pivotal to share the questions that will be directed to the audience.

3). Dialogue:

The direct and fluid exchange with agendas previously shared with the audience contributes to better understand diverging positions, anticípate potential conflicts and/or resolve aspects satellite to the main topic that will be subject to public consultation.

4). Include applicable legislation, share invitations, and carry the encounter at the end of the process:

Public consultations – unlike dialogue obeys to an applicable legislation. To facilitate this task, our publication Public Consultations: Step by Step: 300 Regulatory and Legal Frameworks Applicable in Latin America and the Caribbean summarizes these frameworks and provides a model for consultation plan so share with your audience. Also, it describes the closing phase.






[1] See Graham Watkins, Sven-Uwe Mueller, Hendrik Meller, Maria Cecilia Ramirez, Tomás Serebrisky, Andrea Georgoulias, Lecciones de 4 décadas de conflictos en torno a proyectos de infraestructura en América Latina y el Caribe, Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, 2017.
[2] See Análisis de cartera de solicitudes 2010-2017: una revisión estadística: Programa de Reflexiones Institucionales, Victoria Márquez Mees, Esteban Tovar, Eva Heiss, Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, 2018.
[3] See Graham et al.
Flavia Milano

Flavia Milano

Experta en temas de estrategia y políticas de participación ciudadana. Abogada J.D. con Maestría en Desarrollo y Reducción de Pobreza, especializada en Negocios y Derechos Humanos y certificada en Liderazgo Público de la Universidad de Harvard. Se desempeña como Asesora del Vicepresidente de Países del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) en temas de participación ciudadana.

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