We are all experts! Does stakeholder engagement in health impact scoping lead to consensus? A Dutch case study
Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal
a centre for nutrition, prevention and Health services, national Institute for public Health and the environment, Bilthoven, the netherlands; b school of sports and nutrition, amsterdam University of applied sciences, amsterdam, the netherlands; c msc programme communication ABSTRACT 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
... t 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.