New Forms of Decision Making


New Forms of Decision Making

The importance of public or citizens' participation and governance issues has increased in the last years.


by Wolfgang Pfefferkorn, CIPRA International and Rosniak & Partner GmbH

Source: Frank Schultze / ZEITENSPIEGEL
On the one hand, this is due to international strategies, procedures and legal issues like the Aarhus Convention (UNECE), the Local Agenda 21 (UN), the Convention on Biodiversity (UN) , the Flora-Fauna-Habitat Directive (Natura 2000, EC), the Water Framework Directive (EC), the EIA and SEA Regulations (EC) and the European White Paper "Governance" (EC). All these procedures and guidelines stress the importance of public participations but do not include detailed regulations.

On the other hand, individuals such as land owners, interest groups like farmers’ associations and the civil society in general demand – and are demanded for – more and more involvement into planning and decision making: for management plans, development concepts or strategies and infrastructure projects.

Public participation and new ways of decision making are often experienced as a big challenge – or even as an excessive demand: by decision makers, planners and persons working in administration on different state levels as well as by economic actors, interest groups and the citizens themselves.


Experts involved in the Future in the Alps study commissioned by CIPRA addressed the following issues to find out what new decision-making processes in the Alps might look like:

  • What are the 'hot spot' issues (conflicts, problems) regarding existing decision making processes in the Alps?
  • What is the existing practice for decision making processes, what are their deficiencies and what is the potential of their improvement (strengths, limits)?
  • Which frameworks are needed in order to improve the decision making processes with regard to sustainable development?
  • What are the criteria to choose the methods and identify the stakeholders? Which methods are most suitable for which kinds of decision making processes?
  • What can we learn from good practice of decision making processes with regard to the application of new forms of decision making processes?

The objective was to find answers to these questions, to present the current state of knowledge and some good practice examples. This should help to improve decision making procedures in different fields: in regional co-operation of businesses and other stakeholders, in governance and other social issues, in the planning and managing of protected areas, in designing and implementing mobility concepts and in the general development of policy documents like regional or sectoral plans and programmes.

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Further Readings & Links

As the main base for this tutorial, the report provides further details.

CIPRA Info 82 (2007)
The article puts its focus on participation in the sense of greater co-determination and co-decision.

White Paper on how to improve good governance & community participation in the EU

The Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.