Advancing inclusive public participation in social impact assessments

The Argentinean Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MESD) as a Federal Agency has jurisdiction for enacting environmental law, including setting minimum environmental standards. Subnational governments have jurisdiction to enforce them and, in some cases, set higher standards. Although most Impact Assessments (IAs) are currently being implemented at the provincial level, the federal Ministry is responsible for strengthening national and provincial environmental assessment systems through technical exchanges, training, and dissemination of good practices. In addition, it is responsible for IAs in offshore oil & gas, ports and major hydroelectricity projects.   

The MESD is drafting with the provinces an IA minimal standards law to be presented to Congress and has expressed interest in strengthening participatory processes so that the social impacts are evaluated to the same extent as the impacts on the physical-natural environment. The MESD acknowledges that well-conducted consultations with key stakeholders and affected individuals contribute to the identification of project impacts and the design of measures to mitigate negative impacts and maximize potential benefits. Also, the MESD welcomes the entry into force of the Escazú Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, which Argentina has recently ratified. According to the MEDS, strengthening Argentina’s capacity related to public participation will allow the country to be better positioned to comply with the provisions of the agreement.    

Canada’s experience is considered key in informing this capacity-building process, given its experience in applying the GBA plus to IA and conducting inclusive public consultations with vulnerable populations including women, girls and indigenous populations