11th Annual Conference, Florence, 9-11 October 2003
of the European Environmental Advisory Councils EEAC
|Hosted by the RMNO
(Advisory Council for Research on Spatial Planning, Nature and the Environment)
EEAC Conference on "Environmental Governance"
Governance has become a key word in recent debates on environmental policies. As in the case of sustainable development, governance is associated with multiple definitions and normative connotations. The common core of the governance debate in the public sector is the search for a new role of the state, the region and the European Union. The effectiveness and efficiency of the traditional sectoralised and hierarchical mode of governance by national states to regulate complex issues, in an international multi-level and multi-sector setting, and in cooperation with a wide range of non-governmental actors have decreased considerably. Neither a nostalgic return to the national state nor its withdrawal or the sole reliance on networks and voluntary action may offer appropriate solutions. The challenge is to broaden the spectrum of options and to find criteria for a rational and situational choice out of several options.
- What type of governance is best suited for what kind of problem?
- How important is it to choose the adequate type of governance?
Questions that need to be answered!
The European Commission has launched the debate on governance with its White Paper on Governance at EU level. This debate has direct and indirect ramifications on the environmental and sustainable development policy agenda. Several other recent policy lines and documents of EC and EU have important consequences in this respect too.
EEAC uses its 2003 annual conference to deepen the insights into the implications of the use of different governance styles for the effectiveness of environmental policies. Discussions will range from conceptional contributions to practical evaluations of the ongoing EU policy agenda. These debates prepare the ground for a statement on environmental governance, which is being prepared by a EEAC Working Group in which six councils participate.
Strengths and Weaknesses of modes of governance: hierarchy versus network
The workshop themes Agriculture/Biodiversity and Marine Policies have some properties in common: key decisions are taken at EU or even international level, the ecosystems to be protected are complex and diverse, diffuse sources are to be steered and environmental requirements have to be integrated into historically grown sector policies. In both fields we can observe existing fiscal or economic incentives with environmentally perverse effects, much direct government intervention through regulation and self-regulatory elements. In the workshops we will organise a virtual debate between the protagonists of a more state-centered approach and a more target-group centered approach, between three modes of governance: hierarchical steering, networking and self-regulation. As a result of this debate, the workshops shall inform the plenary about the strengths and shortcomings of different governance approaches in the respective fields, and on different levels, and will eventually provide a synthesis on how to decide on an optimal combination in each policy process.
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