There is a growing recognition across the world that citizens should play a role in informing and shaping environmental policy. But how should this be done?
This paper explores one route, where opportunities ‘from above’ are created often, but not exclusively so, by the state, and often through local government policy and planning processes. A set of approaches, known collectively as Deliberative Inclusionary Processes (DIPs), is explored in different settings through thirty five case studies from both North and South.
Through an examination of lessons emerging from the case studies, both practical issues and methodological questions are considered. The latter questions arise from asking ‘who convenes the process’?, ‘who defines the questions’?, and ‘how are multiple forms of expertise accommodated’?.
The paper shows how power relations and institutional contexts critically affect the outcome of DIPs processes. Without linking such processes to broader processes of policy change – including connections to conventional forms of democratic representation – DIPs may simply be one-off events, and so their considerable potential for transforming environmental policy processes would go unrealised.