The US experience

While the Canadian government has a primer on environmental citizenship on its Environment Canada website, a search on the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website brings up 'Community Based Environmental Protection' (CBEP), a manifestation of the US-based equivalent of environmental citizenship: civic environmentalism. [...] The Washington DC-based not-for-profit 'Center for Environmental Citizenship' has as its strap-line 'networking young leaders to protect the environment', an indication that the dominant orientation of 'citizenship' is about getting young people involved in environmental action [...] whereas civic environmentalism is seen as the more adult version. [This] is complicated in the US by two concepts that have evolved over the past two decades that provide new directions for public policy, namely environmental justice and sustainability. [...] The environmental justice movement is typically a grassroots, or 'bottom-up', political response to external threats whereas the sustainability agenda emerged largely from international processes and committees, governmental structures, think tanks and international NGO networks. Despite their historically different origins, there is an area of theoretical compatibility between them, which is increasingly evidenced in practice (Schlosberg, 1999, Cole and Foster, 2oo1, Agyeman and Evans, 2oo3). This conceptual and increasingly practical overlap [...] represents a critical nexus for a broad social movement to create livable, sustainable communities for all people in the future (Agyeman, Bullard and Evans, 2003). Straddling this nexus is the concept of civic environmentalism.

Civic environmentalism has emerged over the past ten years as the dominant US discourse on environmental policy making at the subnational level. The first person to articulate and name civic environmen-talism as an emergent policy framework that recognized the limits of top-down, command and control environmental regulation was a former employee of the US National Academy of Public Administration, DeWitt John. Its approach, and that of its practical, EPA-inspired cousin, CBEP, stems from an increasing awareness that centrally imposed, media-specific environmental policy found in legislation like the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act is not sufficient for dealing with contemporary environmental problems and that more flexible and collaborative solutions should be found. John (1994: 7) sees civic environmentalism in a narrow sense. To him it 'isfundamentally a bottom up approach to environmental protection' (our emphasis). Since John's (1994) work, there have been a variety of interpretations of the concept of civic environmentalism. [...] Shutkin (2000) [and] Roseland (1998), Hempel (1999) and Mazmanian and Kraft (1999) see civic environmentalism as a much more broadly based concept than John and their contemporaries. To them, it is the idea that members of a particular geographic and political community 'should engage in planning and organizing activities to ensure a future that is environmentally healthy and economically and socially vibrant at the local and regional levels. It is based on the notion that environmental quality and economic and social health are mutually constitutive' (Shutkin, 2000: 14; emphasis added). While John (1994) did not problematise the concept of civic environmentalism, a survey of the range of scholarship on the concept has indicated that there are (at least) two major orientations. Table 1 makes the distinction between these different orientations, which Agyeman and Angus (2003) call 'narrow focus' and 'broad focus' civic environmentalism. Some may argue that there are two types of 'narrowness'; one based on 'environment', to the exclusion of justice, and the other on 'justice' to the exclusion of environment. The former is our interpretation of 'narrow focus' civic environmentalism. In this orientation, justice or equity are not mentioned in the survey literature. g The latter position does not appear to exist in the literature surveyed. m 'Broadfocus' civic environmentalism is explicit and clear: environment, Q economy and social justice issues are 'mutually constitutive' (Shutkin Q (2000: 14).

An example of narrow focus civic environmentalism is the Chesa- ^ peake Bay Program (CBP), a collaborative approach to restore a severely s table l 'Narrow focus' and 'broad focus' civic environmentalist!! (Agyeman and Angus 2003)

'Narrow focus' civic environmentalism

'Broad focus' civic environmentalism

Main contributors Central premise

Central focus

Contribution to sustainable communities

Nature of change

On the role of the citizen

Role of social capital

Stance on environmental justice

John (1994), EPA (1997), Säbel et al. (1999), Friedland & Sirianni (1995), Landy et al. (1999) Stresses limits of top-down command and control environmental regulation. Civic environmentalist policies are best suited to dealing with the local nature of contemporary environmental problems. The focus is on the interconnected nature of environmental problems. Using an ecosystem focus, the argument is that environmental problems do not correspond to political boundaries.

Can only help achieve the environmental goals of a sustainable community, namely to protect and enhance the environment, e.g. pollution control, protection of biodiversity etc.

Technical, reformist. Policy change to incorporate community perspectives.

Passive citizenship, focus on rights of citizen access to legislative and judicial procedures, community right-to-know laws.

Builds social capital as citizens gain access to the regulatory and public interest arena. But 'narrow focus' precludes broader conception of and growth of social capital because of unrepresentative nature of local environmental action. Environmental injustice is mostly related to lack of access to, and protection from, public policy. The primary focus is on procedural justice.

Shutkin (2000), Roseland (1998), Hempel (1999), Mazmanian and Kraft (1999) Stresses interdependent nature of environmental, social, political, and economic problems. Civic is fundamentally about environmentalism ensuring the quality and sustainability of communities. The focus on the connections between environmental, economic and social issues such as urban disinvestment, racial segregation, unemployment, and civic disengagement.

Can help to protect and enhance the environment, while meeting social needs and promoting economic success, i.e. meets all the goals of a sustainable community.

Political, transformative. Change requires paradigm shift.

Active citizenship, focus on responsibilities of the citizen to the environmental, social and economic health of the community.

Environmental, economic and social decline mirrors decline of social capital. Increasing social capital and networks of social capital is essential for developing sustainable communities. Environmental injustice is a result and cause of social, economic and racial inequity. The focus is on both procedural and substantive justice.

damaged watershed. The EPA, the states of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington DC, together with the Chesapeake Bay Commission, use voluntary measures such as education and technical assistance to achieve their goals. Since its inception in 1983, the highest priority has been the restoration of its living resources - finfish, shellfish, Bay grasses, and other aquatic life and wildlife. Improvements include the restoration of fisheries and habitat, the recovery of Bay grasses and decreases in nutrient and toxic loads.

An example of broad focus civic environmentalism is one of the classic US cases of community revitalization: Boston's Dudley Street, by the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) (Medoff and Sklar, 1994). DSNI was formed in 1984 when residents of the area became increasingly frustrated and wanted to revive their neighbourhood which was under siege from arson, disinvestment, neglect and redlining practices, and to protect it from outside speculators. DSNI is the only community-based non-profit in the US that has been granted eminent domain authority over abandoned land within its boundaries. DSNI works to implement resident-driven plans through partnerships with Community Development Corporations (CDCs), various nonprofit and religious organizations which serve the neighbourhood, and others such as banks, government agencies, businesses and foundations. Unlike the narrow focus of the CBP, DSNI's approach is broad focus and comprehensive.

[This] does not imply that narrow focus environmental action is devoid of meaningful participation [but] it will be far more difficult to achieve what Hempel (1999: 48) describes as the 'economic vitality, ecological integrity, civic democracy, and social well-being' that are necessary for the development of sustainable communities, without a more broadly based, social, economic and political analysis. [...] Within the discourse of broad focus civic environmentalism, with its attention to urban disinvestment, racial segregation, unemployment and civic engagement, together with a vision of political transformation and paradigm shift, lies the hope for a deeper US discourse on sustainability than the dominant discourse of 'environmental sustainability', which equates to narrow focus civic environmentalism. [...]

The European experience e

During the last decade, the European Union (EU) has approved a range n of initiatives that are collectively creating a policy framework which it n wishes to see adopted by all member States, although there are clearly e considerable variations across the EU in terms of levels of compliance. a

The EU has adopted a Strategy for Sustainable Development (European s

Commission, 2002) that seeks to embed the principle of sustainability ■¡H into all areas of policy development and implementation. All policies -g must have sustainable development as their core concern. [...] SusS tainable development is clearly defined by the EU as being more than £ environmental sustainability, important though that is. The Presidency "5 Conclusions of the Gothenburg Summit stated: 'The Union's Sustain-'m able Development Strategy is based on the principle that the economic, 15 social and environmental effects of all policies should be examined in a m co-ordinated way and taken into account in decision making' (European Commission, 2002: para. 22).

This commitment to a broadly based sustainable development is closely linked to an emerging European policy on governance as presented in European Governance - A White Paper (European Commission, 2001). In this paper, a modernisation of European governance is seen as a necessary precondition for European integration through a process of decentralisation, combating the impact of globalisation, and a restoration of faith in democracy through wider involvement in decision-making. The White Paper identifies five principles that underpin good governance - openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence - which should apply to all levels of government from local to global. [...] The sustainable development discourse places heavy emphasis upon the need to develop more democratic mechanisms for decision-making and -taking - for instance in policy guidance at the international level, 'good governance' is seen to be evidenced in a strong and dynamic organisation of local government and a culture of 'institutional learning'. According to this perspective, there needs to be creative intervention by political actors to change structures, but in turn citizens' concerns are well informed and they are seeking better 'performance' from public agencies.

The emphasis on improving democratic mechanisms for decision-making leads to calls for human equity and environmental justice, more effective environmental governance, and greater environmental democracy [...]:

• Equity: Moves towards greater sustainability imply a series of difficult decisions which will need to be faced, and the consequences of not taking these decisions (for example about resource use, consumption and pollution) will seriously compromise the quality of life of both current and future generations. Those societies which exhibit a more equal income distribution, greater civil liberties and political rights and higher literacy levels tend to have higher environmental quality (Torras and Boyce, 1998). The sharing of common futures and fates

(and the difficult decisions involved in this) is more likely when there is a higher level of social, economic and political equality. This principle applies both within and between nations.

• Justice: Environmental problems bear down disproportionately upon the poor, although it is the rich nations and the prosperous within those nations who are the greatest consumers and consequently polluters (Agyeman, Bullard and Evans, 2003). The principles of environmental justice demand that environmental decision-making does not disproportionately disadvantage any particular social group, society or nation.

• Governance: The changes implied in a move towards more sustainable societies are so immense that they cannot be imposed by governments alone. This central fact was a major impetus behind the agreement to Local Agenda 21 at the 1992 Earth Summit which recognised that change of the magnitude envisaged by Agenda 21 can only be achieved by mobilising the energy, creativity, knowledge and support of local communities, stakeholders, interest organisations and citizens worldwide. More open, deliberative processes, which facilitate the participation of civil society in taking decisions, will be required to secure this involvement.

• Democracy: The right to information, to freedom of speech, association and dissent, to meaningful participation in decision-making - these and other rights underpin most conceptions of modern liberal democracy. Democracy is vital for sustainability in that it facilitates involvement, but through this it also nurtures understanding and education. Moreover, to encourage the involvement of citizens is to develop ownership and to combat the alienation and civic disengagement that must undermine the drive to more sustainable societies.

Christie and Warburton (2001) argue that good governance is central to sustainability. 'The fundamental driver of sustainable development must be democratic debate - decisions reached through open discussion, consensus based on shared goals and trust. Sustainable development needs representative democracy that is trusted and vibrant, and new forms of participatory democracy to complement it that can inspire g greater engagement by citizens in creating a better world' (Christie and m Warburton, 2001: 154). They maintain that a renewal of trust in public Q institutions, and of local democracy, will be required if the sustainability Q agenda is to be delivered. [...]

The final component of the emerging European policy 'architecture' is ^ related to rights and citizen participation. The UN Economic Commission s for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participa-

■¡H tion in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, also

-g known simply as the Aarhus Declaration, was adopted on 25 June 1998

S in the Danish city of Aarhus at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in the

£ 'Environment for Europe' process. The Aarhus Convention lays down the

"5 basic rules to promote citizens' involvement in environmental matters

'in and enforcement of environmental law. The Aarhus Convention consists _o

0 of three 'pillars', each of which grants different rights:

• the first pillar gives the public the right of access to environmental information;

• the second pillar gives the public the right to participate in decision-making processes; and

• the third pillar ensures access to justice for the public.

These three elements of European policy relating to sustainable development, to governance and to environmental rights, collectively provide a Europe-wide policy framework which, it is anticipated, will eventually determine and condition the policies and practices of European national governments. As might be expected, the actual implementation of these policies across Europe is patchy, and until the European Commission constructs and applies Directives with which national governments have to comply, progress is likely to be slow. Moreover, it might be objected that these approaches are 'procedural' rather than 'substantive', in that they do not necessarily imply any real changes in levels of social inclusion or social justice, but an optimistic position would be that such 'top-down' intitiatives, however limited, are steps in the right direction. [...]

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