Introduction

Environmental problems have a distinct importance for societies. This importance rests on the fact that ecological concerns simultaneously present a challenge at the ethical, social, economic, political, and scientific levels. Thus, when resolving today's environmental problems, it is necessary for governments to not only address the strictly cognitive concerns at play, but also to manage the ethical uncertainties derived from conflicting values in society.

In democratic societies attempting to resolve complex issues, it is not uncommon for political decisions to be made within a relatively broad communicative forum. The hyper-complexity of many environmental problems obliges governments to engage in dialogues concerning existing pieces of scientific, economic, and political knowledge, as well as values held by a wide range of interests. Not infrequently, if these dialogues can be initiated and sustained, it is possible to reveal that much of the knowledge and many of the interests complement each other [1]. Ideally, these communicative forums are multiparty, comprised of government officials, scientists and technicians within the bureaucracy, traditional economic actors, and representatives of the broader civil society—including the private business sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and spokespersons for social movements. This framework for a negotiation-based forum for decision-making has been gaining attention and support within the international community in recent years [2-4]. This broad endorsement suggests that complex issues such as environmental concerns, within both democratic and democratizing countries, need to be addressed in an open process that counts on the participation of all sectors of society [2-4].

Despite increasing international pressure for an open forum format for discussions of environmental problems in all countries, this approach is less common within societies transitioning to democracy than in established democracies. However, in many nations there is increasing transparency in public policy processes; it has been forced by greater global awareness due, in part, to the speed at which we receive detailed information on events and environmental developments through the World Wide Web. Additionally, there is increased public participation, partially advanced by public participation requirements for receiving World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank monies. And there is greater pluralism in the voices of advocacy, a consequence of pressure from domestic democracy movements. These changes, and the public support behind them, are compelling governments to make greater use of multi-party negotiations. Despite these advances, some governments making the transition to democracy are holding back from negotiation-style decision-making [3,4]. Reasons behind this reluctance vary, but often include the desire to maintain decision-making power in the hands of the traditional decision makers (including government officials, top businessmen, and the military), and lack of experience with greater pluralism. Consequently, in the nations where there is limited negotiation-style decision-making, stakeholders not involved with one of these traditional decision-making groups often play largely symbolic roles. An examination of negotiations for environmental decision-making in two Latin American countries reveals the variation in negotiation processes that is present in Latin American nations transitioning to democracy.

The objective of this chapter is to characterize the status of communicative forums featuring multi-party environmental negotiations within countries transi-tioning into greater democracy. More specifically, this chapter describes actions taken by both traditional and non-traditional actors interested in environmental decision-making, and notes the consequences of these actions on environmental negotiations in their respective countries. This paper focuses on two countries "transitioning to democracy" in Latin America—Mexico and Ecuador.

Mexico and Ecuador were selected for comparison both because of their similarities and because of their differences. Both countries are transitioning to democracy—working to improve upon the democratic institutions that exist—

and both have serious environmental problems—problems of concern to not only their citizens, but to the international community. Mexico is an economically and socially diverse, relatively wealthy developing nation with newly formed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ties to the developed western countries of Canada and the United States. Ecuador, in contrast, is one of the geographically smallest, most densely populated, and economically challenged countries of Latin America. A comparison of these two countries will highlight the degree of diversity present within the overall progress toward the use of multi-party environmental negotiations in countries transitioning to democracy.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

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