- Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Michael Bowman, Peter Davies and Edward Goodwin
Chapter 3: Participatory resource management: a Caribbean case study
Public participation is a difficult concept to define. Pring and Noe note that while the term is used frequently, ‘it is rarely defined other than by implication’. One of the broadest definitions is that adopted in the 2000 Organisation of American States Inter American Strategy for the Promotion of Public Participation in Decision Making for Sustainable Development. The Strategy defines public participation as ‘all interaction between government and civil society … including the process by which government and civil society open dialogue, establish partnerships, share information and otherwise interact to design, implement and evaluate development policies, projects and programmes’. Public participation provisions began to appear in the planning and environmental regulations of some states during the 1960s and 1970s. Richardson and Razzaque note that in developing countries the trend often manifested itself in the form of greater community involvement in development planning and poverty alleviation projects. On an international level, participation was addressed in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. It was also addressed in 1982 by the UN General Assembly in the World Charter for Nature, although it did not become a significant topic in international law until the 1990s and in particular, in 1992, at the Rio Conference on Environment and Development. Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration emphasises the role of participatory rights at a national level in the achievement of the goal of sustainable development.
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