There is a growing pressure, both internationally and particularly in South Africa, to include people in a more democratic form of environmental management necessitating a more holistic and interdisciplinary approach. Within this context, the paper documents a case study of public participation in the regulation of marine waste disposal. This involves examining the social input, via a Social Impact Assessment, into the decision-making procedure for the issuing of permits for marine waste disposal via three marine pipelines along the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The SIA was designed to elicit the substantive social issues and facilitate a process aimed at consensus-building among stakeholders. The SIA revealed that such processes, while lengthy and costly, can provide the basis for sustainable environmental management if institutionalised mechanisms are set up through which the partnerships can be fostered and informed contributions made towards the environmental decision-making process.

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