Social acceptability is the outcome of a collective judgment or collective opinion of a project, plan or policy.
The collective judgment may be positive or negative and is never set in time. It may be formed at every territorial level: local, regional or national. Social acceptability often emerges at the local or regional level and has more impact on whether or not a project can move forward when it is expressed at those levels. As for the collective judgment of a sector or industry, it is often expressed at the national level.
Social acceptability may concern every type of project, regardless of size, including residential and industrial developments, wind farms, mines, hydrocarbon exploration activities and recreational or tourism projects, among others.
Social acceptability can be described and cannot be quantified.
Taking into account the factors that influence social acceptability will encourage the better integration of a project in its environment and its more harmonious appropriation by the community.
One of these factors is participation in decision-making. Local actors want to have the chance to participate in the decision-making process on projects that may have an impact on the quality of their life or their environment. Also, implementation of a structured public participation effort is beneficial both for the promoter and actors involved or interested in the project. For example, the creation of a monitoring committee provides the promoter and local actors a setting for formal dialogue in which listening and respect of opinions are promoted. To learn more about monitoring committees, see the Best practices guide for monitoring committees .
A public participation effort started early in the project development process can help create better social acceptability for it.