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Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe

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Mag.a Rita Trattnigg

Rita Trattnigg works in the Austrian Ministry of the Environment, where she is responsible for the issue of sustainable development (at the EU and national levels) with special emphasis on participation and governance.

Contact: rita.trattnigg(at)

Reconstructing is an excellent opportunity to try out something new – and to stimulate dialogue on participation and sustainable development at this virtual location.

From now on this is the place where people can take up position – to introduce a new issue, to provide food for thought, to enhance an ongoing discussion. We want to publicize the widest possible variety of views, assessments and standpoints. Points of view need a public forum; at the same time they help to construct that forum – here we can never overdo things. Sites for constructive argument and dialogue are essential if we are to reach a (national and European) public.

I see a point of view as a crystallization of lines of thought and insights that have gradually accumulated and that I start to condense at a certain point on my path. My point of view is not irrevocable; it is well thought out, but makes no claim to absolute truth (here I agree with Heinz von Foerster, who regards truth as the invention of a liar).

I aim to present a recognizable perspectice and personality. I am (usually) less concerned about being right than about making contact with other people – providing links. That is why I see dialogue, encounter as central to each and every participation process. As Martin Buber put it: What makes I to I is Thou.

Points of view are important to get a discussion going; the result should include contributions from everyone involved. My point of view (as originally expressed) can change; during the discussion I gain new insights and am influenced – while hoping, of course, that my point of view has had some effect and started something.

My point of view is meant to be open for further development and part of a larger whole. It consists not only of statements but also of numerous unanswered questions. If that sounds too “cuddly“ – too much like premature consensus – I should add something: points of view can stimulate disagreement, conflict can (as suggested by Duss-von Werdt) release masses of constructive energy that should be utilized for sustainable development by way of a whole new culture of dialogue and argument – a process of collectively creating our future.

By changing myself I change the world; the world can change only if we change ourselves.

Rita Trattnigg, March 2006

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