Panel Title: Participation for environmental democracy
Chair: Louisa Parks (Associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Trento, School of International Studies and Department of Sociology and Social Research)
Co-Chair: Francesca Forno (Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Trento, Department of Sociology and Social Research)
Abstract: Attention to different forms of participation aiming to protect and advocate for the environment has grown in recent years. The environmental protest wave that began with Greta Thunberg’s school strikes for the climate that spread across the world, and the civil disobedience of Extinction Rebellion are prominent examples. Other less overtly contentious forms have also attracted attention, including examples of judicial activism such as the Urgenda case in the Netherlands. Participation also occurs at more local levels with more immediately practical aims, including a flourishing movement around critical consumption and sustainable lifestyles. Other types of environmental participation are longer lived but continue apace, from participation by indigenous peoples, local communities and NGOs at international summits, to local level community-based natural resource management ranging from community supported agriculture and food policy councils to protected areas management.
Investigating the significance of all of these kinds of participation is crucial at a time when the climate emergency may lend credence to calls for ‘benign dictatorship’ in environmental governance. Scholars and activists alike have called for environmental democracy both on the basis of fairness and justice and because it is argued to lead to more efficient and effective solutions. Yet the multilevel governance of the environment raises questions about the shape that environmental democracy might take. The need to move beyond liberal representative conceptions of democracy and adopt a more substantive approach based on participation, often including deliberative elements starting from the local level and moving to the international, has been presented as an effective way to reduce levels of citizens’ distrust towards institutions while increasing their individual responsibility and active participation. The role of environmental participation by and through civil society is also raised as a possible path to allow for this local to international deliberation.
This panel aims to discuss and reflect on this broad range of forms environmental participation with a view to their role in democratic environmental governance. We warmly invite papers that explore existing avenues of participation for different groups, and different types of participation, that are offered by arenas of environmental governance from the local to the international level; papers considering the impacts of different types of environmental participation, particularly in a comparative perspective, and; papers reflecting on models of substantive democratic environmental governance and the role of participation therein.
Please send your proposed paper title, keywords (max. 8) and a 500 word abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 February 2020.
The full panel proposal will then be submitted to the ECPR on 19 February 2020. All those kind enough to submit abstracts will be kept up to date on progress throughout.