Meaningful Stakeholder Consultation and Social Impact Assessment

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The concept of “meaningful stakeholder consultation” rests on a combination of elements from three fields (consultation as a legal right established in impact assessment legislation, an inclusive stakeholder definition that can be traced to business ethics, and responsible business conduct with a point of departure in theory and norms on business responsibilities for human rights and risk-based due diligence). In terms of practical and theoretical application, it is set within a fourth, impact assessment. The chapter explains the concept’s legacy in these fields and provides examples drawn from several Arctic countries with extensive consultation and/or social impact assessment legislation. The chapter explains that the term “affected stakeholders” targets rights-holders whose human rights are at risk or impacted and that meaningful stakeholder consultation or engagement assumes a bottom-up approach to involve those. The chapter concludes that formal consultation rights do not by default lead to substantive involvement and experienced meaningful engagement. Attention is needed to design processes that are meaningful for affected stakeholders in order for consultations to adequately identify risks or impacts from the perspective of rights-holders. Increases in mandatory risk-based due diligence has implications for the conduct of meaningful stakeholder engagement in Arctic countries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Polar Law
EditorsYoshifumi Tanaka, Rachael Johnstone, Vibe Ulfbeck
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9780367711702, 9781032519982
ISBN (Electronic)9781003404828
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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