Assessing Collaborative Environmental Management

Does local control over environmental projects result in better outcomes than higher levels of government?
October 30, 2004, 5am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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This paper proposes a framework for evaluating the democratic meritsof collaborative policymaking processes in which authority is devolved from higher levels of government to lower levels or from the public sector to theprivate sector. The framework casts the democracy of devolution in terms of sixcriteria: inclusiveness, representativeness, procedural fairness, lawfulness, deliberativeness,and empowerment. The framework is then applied to a randomsample of 76 watershed-based stakeholder partnerships in California and WashingtonState. Although the study reveals potential problems related to the exclusionarynature of some partnerships and the nearly complete absence of nationalenvironmental groups, the overall picture is relatively positive. Representationwas generally balanced, with environmental and economic stakeholderscomparable in terms of number, costs of participation, and level of formal education.Stakeholders typically gave partnerships high marks for procedural fairness,and reported improvements in human and social capital, suggesting qualitydeliberation. Half of the sampled partnerships had implemented new policiesor projects, indicating empowerment. Finally, the study detected no evidence ofa diminished role for government in watershed management; federal and stateagencies are among the most prevalent and influential participants in stakeholderpartnerships.

Thanks to Laura Kranz

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Published on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 in California State University, Sacramento
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