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Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe

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GLOSSARY

Agenda 21, Local Agenda 21, Regional Agenda 21

Comprehensive world-wide program of action for sustainable development in the 21st century (agenda: Latin for “what needs doing“).

The key issue is striking a balance between economic, social and ecological requirements, including reducing the discrepancies between rich and poor countries. The idea is for ordinary citizens, politicians, administrators and entrepreneurs to work out and implement strategies for developing their area sustainably at the local or regional level (Local Agenda 21, Regional Agenda 21).

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Agents

Individuals or representatives of institutions actively taking part in the course of events.

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Conflict analysis

This involves the mediators’ interviewing the stakeholders at the start of mediation, to learn their perspective on the conflict, the background (special regional and personal aspects), their points of view and how willing they are to accept an agreed resolution of the conflict.

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Education for Democratic Citizenship

Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC) seeks to help pupils, young people and adults participate actively and responsibly in the decision-making processes in their communities. A fundamental aim of EDC is the promotion of a culture of democracy and human rights. Thus it seeks to strengthen social cohesion, mutual understanding and solidarity.
Source: Karen O’Shea: A Glossary of terms for Education for Democratic Citizenship Council of Europe DGIV/EDU/CIT (2003) 29

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Environmental audit

For certain types of project which are expected to have a considerable impact on the environment, the Austrian statute on environmental audits (UVP-G) prescribes an environmental audit with civic participation.

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Facilitators / moderators

Persons qualified by their professional training, their practical experience and their impartiality (i.e. they are under the same obligations to all stakeholders) to organize and steer a participation process. They assist the participants in working out possible solutions, but leave all decisions to them.

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Impartiality

The mediators are disinterested as regards the actual issue, and do not have party status in the administrative or political decision-making procedure. They take a uniform stance vis-à-vis all participants, so that these can table their interests properly in the course of mediation.

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Mediation contract

This is a final, binding document listing the solutions / measures to be implemented that have been agreed. In signing it, the participants commit themselves to a civil-law contract not dependent on any administrative act for its validity. The contract has the additional advantage that it documents the search for a solution and the decision(s) taken in a form intelligible to outsiders.

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Mediation forum

The “negotiation zone“ in the mediation process; here all stakeholders are represented (with equal votes) and work out an agreed solution together.

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Mediators, mediation teams

Persons whose professional training and impartiality fits them to lead a mediation process. They assist the participants in working out possible solutions, but leave all decisions to them.

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NGO

Abbreviation for “Non-Governmental Organisation“. NGOs are organizations independent of governments who (in most cases) are active in the public interest. Many NGOs work in the environmental or social field; Greenpeace, Caritas and Médecins Sans Frontières are examples.

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Notification of decision

Formal administrative document embodying a final decision on an application (e.g. for approval to operate equipment).

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Participants

Persons who take part in a participation process, either as private individuals or as representatives of groups of stakeholders.

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(Participation) process

This notion covers many forms of collaboration between decision-makers and stakeholders/those interested, ranging from an exchange of information all the way to active involvement in shaping communal life. In the participation context the word "process" refers to a sequence of steps, one leading to another.

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Party status

In a statutory official procedure party status entitles one to raise objections, to inspect official documents, to put forward one’s point of view, to appeal etc.; it is accorded to citizens and legal entities who satisfy the criteria laid down in the relevant provisions (in Austria: the provisions of the AVG (statute on administrative procedure) and of the various material statutes, such as that governing environmental audits).

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Policies

Policies are relatively long-term top-level strategic decisions by government, parliament or the administration, embodied in statements of principle, strategies or mission statements, such as the Austrian Strategy for Sustainable Development, the Austrian Climate Strategy or the National Action Plan for Employment.

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Procedural agreement

Written agreement reached between the participants at the start of mediation, defining aim, content, sequence of events, working procedure and rules for the process.

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Stakeholders

All those whose interests may be affected by a project (plan, program, policy, legal transaction), both individuals and groups, e.g. neighbours, firms, clubs, politicians, administrators, etc.

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Strategic environmental assessment (SEA)

Strategic environmental assessment is a tool for taking environmental aspects into account in defining policies, plans and programs, on a level with social and economic aspects. In contrast to environmental audits, the focus here is not on individual projects but on resolving issues of principle in the planning field with civic participation.

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Sustainable development

Refers to a form of development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept of sustainable development or sustainability involves both conserving the environment and resources long-term and achieving economic prosperity and social justice.

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