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Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe

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For environmental mediation to be carried out successfully, there are several essential requirements:

Including all stakeholders, who are automatically entitled to negotiate

Right at the start of an environmental mediation process all stakeholders are invited to participate in the process. This gives stakeholders a say even if they do not have party status in an official approval procedure. If the number of stakeholders is large, the various interest groups are represented by individuals with a vote. All participants have the same negotiating status. Decisions must be unanimous, and must not penalize individuals or third parties. The mediators take care that all information is made available to all participants in the same way and in intelligible form.

Process steered by impartial mediators

Mediators are professionally trained go-betweens who coordinate and steer the mediation process. They assist the participants in the search for solutions, but do not themselves take decisions. As impartial third parties they do not belong to the circle of stakeholders, have no party status or personal interest in an approval procedure, and have the same obligations vis-à-vis all stakeholders.

Participation is voluntary

Taking part in a mediation process is voluntary for all concerned. Anyone who wishes to withdraw from the process can do so at any time.

Working out possible solutions without interference

Producing suggestions, and taking a final decision, are the exclusive responsibility of the participants; the mediators assist them in this, but without intervening as regards content. As the need arises the participants collectively commission external experts to throw light on special issues. A collective decision is taken on the scope of negotiation. The outcome of the process is largely open.

Clearly structured procedure

Environmental mediation requires proper procedural organization. In every such process the mediators and all participants collectively customize the procedure to match the special features of the conflict in question, and agree suitable rules.

Fairness and constructive atmosphere

The mediators see to it that that the conditions under and the way in which work goes on are conducive to mutual esteem, confidentiality and fairness. As part of this, pleasant surroundings (accomodation, refreshments) and opportunities to relax together (e.g. regular breaks, having lunch together) are important.

Results are binding (mediation contract)

The participants collectively work out a solution compatible with existing law. The results of negotiation are set out in writing, and are incorporated in the project application for the official approval procedure or the process of reaching a political decision.