Over the past four decades, a rapid economic growth and industrialization have been cased natural resource degradation, environmental pollutions and health impacts in Thailand. These create environmental controversies across the country. Presently, Thailand is facing many environmental conflicts from developing large scale project. Many development projects are delayed or postponed because of the public opposition. To solve the problems, public participation in Environmental Impact Assessment should be strongly established. Although, public participation has become an essential element of environmental decision-making and has grown considerably in Thailand, it frequently fails to solve environmental conflicts. A case study approach was selected for this research. One case of Thailand’s power plant project controversies is central to this study. Environmental laws and regulations relating to public participation practice in the Thai EIA system were studied and examined. The study revealed that the requirements for public participation in environmental management function have been marked in the 2007 Thai Constitution. However, the current practice of public participation in the EIA system has not been successfully established. Thai government prefers a top-down approach to handle environmental conflicts which noticeably ineffective. This leads to a critical problem in project implementation and environmental sustainability. As a result, Thai people call for meaningful participation in the decision-making processes concerning highly controversial issues of development activities. They realize that public participation should play an important role in environmental conflict resolution. It could be said that where public participation is overlooked or inappropriately conducted, environmental conflicts may be created.
Chutarat Chompunth, National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand
Stream: Social Sustainability & Social Justice
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