What is Community Engagement?

The community has an essential role to play in the effective management of chemicals if we are to achieve a Toxic Free Future.

It is recognised by the United Nations Environment Program that environmentally sound management of chemicals and waste requires the participation of all stakeholders and interested parties.

NTN’s community engagement campaign aims to define effective community engagement and assist the community to better participate in a range of consultative and advisory processes. Through this campaign we aim to effect change in the way government and industry consult with the community.

The term ‘community engagement’ describes the process by which governments and industry involve civil society in their decision-making processes. Many forms of community engagement exist, ranging from advisory bodies, consultative forums, direct public participation in consensus decision-making, through to public meetings where the community is informed about a project or a decision.

Community engagement in chemical management is not just a ‘nice idea’, it is a right enshrined in the international Bahia Declaration on Chemical Safety, 2000. The Australian Government signed the Bahia Declaration, which acknowledges the community’s right to know:

Communities have a right to participate meaningfully in decisions about chemical safety that affect them.”

NTN lobbies for community right to know, and our members participate in the assessment of applications for confidentiality of chemical information. To learn more about right to know read our report National Pollutant Inventory- Is it serving the communities right to know?


NTN members have participated in the following forums:

  • Stockholm Stakeholder Reference Group
  • National Industrial Chemical Notification & Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) Community Engagement Forum
  • National Industrial Chemical Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) Technical Advisory Group
  • Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) Community Consultative Committee
  • NChEM Advisory Committee
  • Hazardous Waste Reference Group
  • NSW Gene Technology Expert Committee