Since June 1996, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) have become mandatory in Guyana for all projects anticipated to have significant impacts on the environment. Furthermore, the law, i.e. the Environmental Protection Act, that brought this stipulation into being also identifies formal channels by which citizens are expected to participate from project conception through to the resolution of conflicts. However, while the Act is explicit with regards to citizen participation, the modalities by which they can participate effectively have been operating less than optimally.
Thus, this paper seeks to examine what the law states about citizen participation and to take a critical look at the participation process in Guyana. It utilises mainly secondary sources and the authors experience in the field to determine that a lack of innovation in the participation process is conspicuously absent. Furthermore, the participation process is conducted differently for most development vis-à-vis investment projects.
The paper therefore posits as one of its main recommendations, the need for a structured citizen participation plan to improve the involvement of the stakeholders, and modus operandi that are culturally appropriate that will allow for more substantive feedback and less cynicism of the process.