According to the team at Reputation Matters, South Africa is a developing nation; infrastructure is being upgraded, new housing developments are frequently springing up and different industries are quick to adopt new technology to keep up with the rest of the world. 

The team says that this advancement in development does not come without its environmental impacts. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA's) play an important role in ensuring the environmental and social impacts are mitigated as much as possible. Equally as important is including the voice of the public in the EIA process.

Chris Bischoff, reputation manager and sustainability specialist at Reputation Matters, says, "We have been involved in the public participation element with past clients and we have seen the value that good media coverage has towards sharing information with the public."

"Our EIA public participation service is designed to achieve media coverage that highlights the project's benefits. We also include a public survey to collect comments from affected stakeholders and to include all public concerns and recommendations in the environmental management plan," adds Bischoff.

"Lastly, based on the public feedback on the proposed development, we will guide the project management team and EIA practitioners on how best to communicate with interested stakeholders based on their preferred communication means," Bischoff says.

According to Reputation Matters, the purpose of public participation is to provide a source of information for the public about the EIA and proposed development. It also allows stakeholders to register as interested and affected parties to submit their comments, concerns and recommendations.

The brand indicates that public participation is a "vital component to the EIA process and will largely influence the Department of Environmental Affairs' decision to approve a development" that is based on the EIA.

"We want to ensure that the public participation aspect goes beyond the minimum requirements; our service is designed for this. Our team has extensive public relations and stakeholder engagement experience, along with a comprehensive understanding of the EIA process in South Africa," concludes Bischoff.

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