Regional Community-Based Planning: the Challenge of Participatory Environmental Governance
A new approach to environmental governance is sweeping Australia. Two national funding schemes require collaborative bodies to administer funds for regional on-ground projects to manage rivers, coastlines, biodiversity and vegetation. The devolution of power and resources to these bodies is contingent on participatory, representative and transparent processes. This decentralisation of responsibility reflects stakeholder expectations and a focus on empowerment and social capital. Supporters of the new regional arrangements anticipate that the heightened inclusion of community members in decision-making will contribute to a holistic and collaborative approach, in stark contrast to adversarial, 'decide and announce' approaches. Their case is strengthened by the consensus that traditional top-down governance has failed to achieve sustainable natural resource management and may, in fact, have contributed to adverse impacts, including salinity, ecosystem loss and climate change.
Australasian Journal of Environmental Management