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Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe

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Participation processes have already been successfully applied in many different areas: river management, community development, transport and mobility, waste management, community work and any number of others. Some impression can be got from what is documented here >>Case histories.
These also reveal that participation processes can be applied at more than one level:


  • at the highest level, i.e. policy – where strategies, general approaches and overall concepts are developed – and legislation (statutes and decrees),
  • in planning activities and program development,
  • in concrete projects.

Source: Participation Manual, p. 8

Scope of participation

How far opportunities for and rights of participation extend in a particular process depends on several different factors. How far the interests of ordinary citizens and/or lobbyists can be taken into account largely depends on the type of process involved >>formal or informal – and on the selected >>method selected. Independently of this, though, the willingness of decision-makers in politics, the administration and business to accomodate the ideas of other groups of agents in planning and taking decisions is crucial.

Informative participation covers cases in which stakeholders and interested parties are informed about a project and its likely effects; here they have little chance of influencing the decisions taken. Public meetings aimed exclusively at informing, and providing opportunities to inspect official documents, are examples of this approach.

Consultative participation processes provide stakeholders and interested parties with an opportunity to comment on suggestions put forward, plans or decisions, and to table their ideas, which are to be taken into account at the decision stage – when a land utilization plan is being drawn up, say.

The most far-reaching form of participation involves joint decisions. Here stakeholders and interested parties are given an opportunity to have a say in developing the project and in details of how it is implemented, for instance during a mediation process. The scope can range from developing suggestions together all the way to the participants’ having extensive powers to decide.

Source: Participation Manual, p. 9