Interested as I am in (improving) environmental decision-making processes and in negotiation, it seems inevitable that I would become involved in the development of public participation in the making of environmental policy and of decisions affecting the environment.
All along the 1980s, I was attentive to the pilot experiments and reflections that were paving the way for the boom in participatory procedures that was to occur in France in the early 1990s. When this happened, I became very involved, being for instance the project leader of the first municipal environmental planning procedure (plan municipal d’environnement) in France, in 1991, and of a series of similar procedures at various scales and on various topics until 1995.
As this became standard procedure accross environmental policies at the end of the 1990s, I took a more reflexive and critical position and was happy to be appointed to chair the scientific committee of the national research program on environmental participation: “Concertation, Décision et Environnement” (CDE). Since then, the program has selected and funded some 50 research projects and is looking forward to the final conference of its second phase in 2013. A host of interesting material is available online on the programs website.
In the 2000s, I became involved in the development of public participation in environmental decision-making internationally. I was a member of the Aarhus Convention‘s compliance committee (2003-2005) and then (2005-2008)chaired the convention’s task force on “Public participation in international fora”, that examined how and to what extent the public did and could participate in international environmental negotiation and decision-making arenas. I was also associated with the organisation of UNITAR and Yale’s first “Environmental Governance and Democracy” conference in 2008, where specialists of environmental participation from around the world could share their experience and questions. In 2011, I organised for the CDE program a workshop in Oxford for in-depth (mostly franco-british) discussion of the state of the art and research perspectives on participation in the environmental field.
My own research work on participation is in line with my work on strategic environmental management analysis and on negotiation. It focuses
(1) on the evaluation of the effectiveness (in terms of environmentally motivated change) of participatory decision-making [insert download LM 2004]
(2) on the place and role of negotiation in decision-making.
(3) on the distributive dimension underpinning participatory decision-making