Participatory Environmental Governance: Reflecting on Its Innovative Legal and Political Underpinnings

An Overview
Let me begin with a rather condensed articulation of the approach to Participatory Environmental Governance.
More than ever, and especially in this dire situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, “participatory environmental governance” (PEG) should not be simply considered and declared as a challenging perspective or an abstract ambition to be “moderately” planned, reached and practiced. In fact, its conceptualization and construction rises well beyond traditional “normal” thinking and perceived applications or doctrinal positivist restrictions. It should be contemplated as a multidimensional, interdisciplinary, relational process capable of generating sustainability and contributing to common interest (international and domestic) in an “ever-changing” world (“meeting the needs of present and future generations”). Integrating political, legal, scientific and social knowledge, thus, effectively addressing the policy-science-society interface at all levels of governance PEG provides an all-encompassing approach to sustainability effectiveness while opening up a roadmap to trust and strong social legitimation.
Participatory environmental governance naturally ingrains a progressive bottom-up approach into the traditional top-down approach to the process of shaping and implementing environmental governance and law-making. As a result, sustainability policies and environmental legislation as well as international duty-obligations and power-rights under conventional environmental regimes, should come under public scrutiny. States should not only secure effective consultation with non-state actors, the public, in their decision-making process managing environmental issues. States should not merely give access to information to the public or disseminate scientific information on their own terms. Increasingly and consistently, States should effectively engage non-state actors, the public, in environmental decision-making process at all levels and in all stages of this process, so that the latter become essential part of the continuous management of sustainability with its ecological, technological, social and ethical implications. Τhe democratization and trust-building of this process, associated with consistent contribution to international/domestic common interest, is the best guarantee for its legitimation, effectiveness and social acceptance. In practice, this invites transformative innovative concepts and policies, public-engaging practices and better understanding of legal and political complementarities in constructing effective environmental governance.
Let me now take you to the streets of this so heavily rich – and so complex but reliable - encompassing approach to PEG, shedding some light into two of its, more daring but far-reaching, underpinnings to better understand its outward evolving institutional life.

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