Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate
Chapter 25: Civic Engagement in Environmental Governance in Central and Eastern Europe
JoAnn Carmin Introduction Throughout its history, the preservation of natural areas and monuments in countries across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) contributed to widespread appreciation for nature and the outdoors. By the time state socialism was drawing to a close, however, many of these places had deteriorated from years of open-pit mining, toxic dumping and unbridled manufacturing. Awareness of the presence of pollution and the threats it was posing to human and ecosystem health ultimately gave rise to oppositional activities that focused on the need to improve environmental quality and, at the same time, expressed general levels of discontent with the regimes. When state socialism collapsed under the weight of societal sentiment and stagnating economies, it was envisioned that the development of democratic systems would include changes that created opportunities for the public to participate in decision-making. Efforts were made to establish norms of participation across many domains, but the environmental arena was a priority. Given the forces that led to the transitions, this was an era characterized by optimism about the potential for remediating past damage, developing proactive laws and regulations, and building an engaged citizenry that would shape environmental policies while holding governments accountable for their actions. Consequently, it was expected that the environmental policy process, from inception through to implementation, would involve the public, either through their direct participation or by means of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) acting on their behalf. The fall of state socialism took place at a time when existing modes of participation were being...
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