Stakeholder Participation, Consensus Building and Negotiations to Achieve Social Sustainability: A Case of Pulau Meranti Land Readjustment Project
Authorities in many countries have moved from public involvement that meant informing and educating the public to involvement that means receiving information from, and being educated by the people. In today’s interconnected society, many problems exist that affect adverse groups of people with different interests. The concern now is, how do we get these various stakeholders to participate and collaborate on solving complex problems in ways that are acceptable to all? Based on the principles of local participation and ownership of decisions, consensus building is a favored approach to participation which fits with the current policy requirement and societal attitudes. Chapter 28 of Agenda 21 stated that “Each local authority should enter into a dialogue with its citizens, local organizations and private enterprises and adopt a “Local Agenda 21”. Through consultations and consensus building, local authorities would learn from the citizens, civic, community and industrial organizations and acquire the information needed for formulating the best strategies. This is in line with the guiding principles of social sustainability which include equity, social inclusion and interaction, security and adaptability. Consensus building is indeed an approach that can achieve social sustainability. Drawing on experiences and involvement in a government’s Land Readjustment Project in Kampung Pulau Meranti, the paper details out the stages of consensus building approach adopted. Land is indeed a complex matter with many diverse and conflicting interests, and through negotiations all the stakeholders met face to face to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the issues. The paper also focuses on evaluating the consensus building process in terms of the process and outcome. Evaluation of the process focuses on how effectively interactions were managed during the consensus building dialogue, while evaluation of outcomes tend to focus on the distribution of gains and losses before and after the dialogue. Of importance, the case study provides an input to the theory and practice of consensus building and its contribution towards social sustainability. There is also the need to learn more about what these processes are, about when they are the appropriate tool (and when they are not) and about how to use them effectively.
Keywords: Stakeholder Participation, Social Sustainability, Consensus Building, Negotiation, Agenda 21, Land Readjustment Project
Dr. Sharifah Norazizan Syed Abd Rashid
Associate Professor, Department of Social and Development Science