Democracy and Environmental Integration in Decision-Making

An Evaluation of Decisions for Large Infrastructure Projects

Maria Figueroa

    Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandlingForskning

    Resumé

    Denne afhandling undersøger de demokratiske egenskaber ved beslutningsprocesserne for store infrastrukturprojekter i Danmark og Sverige. Inspireret af aggregative og deliberative demokratiteorier udvikles begreber samt 21 evalueringskriterier, der bruges til en kritisk analyse af påstanden om, at der er et demokratisk underskud på dette område. Undersøgelsen søger også at afdække om de betingelser, der udvider den demokratiske deliberation (dvs. fri offentlig diskussion og meningsdannelse) i beslutningsprocesserne også kan bidrage til at forbedre integrationen af miljøspørgsmål i disse beslutninger. Rammerne for denne undersøgelse defineres af fire centrale normative områder: a) opfyldelse af proceduremæssige krav i processen; b) udvikling af den offentlige debat; c) indflydelse på beslutningsprocessen; d) eksistens og reproduktion af de institutionelle arrangementer, der udtrykker den politiske vilje. De muligheder, som ikke-statslige aktører har for at sætte spørgsmålstegn ved specifikke statslige beslutninger bliver analyseret ved hjælp af begrebet ’institutionelt råderum’ (institutional space). Undersøgelsen bygger på forskellige typer af data, primært interviews med nøgleaktører, dokumentanalyse og sekundær litteratur. En ’demokratisk checkliste’ omfattende 21 kriterier blev sendt ud som et spørgeskema og brugt til at validere interviewresultaterne. Undersøgelsens tre empiriske cases er to motorvejsprojekter i henholdsvis Uddevalla i Sverige og i Silkeborg, samt den faste forbindelse over Øresund. Resultaterne af undersøgelsen peger både på styrker og skrøbeligheder med hensyn til demokratiet i beslutningsprocesserne. Der eksisterer et robust system af procedurer for borgerinddragelse i begge lande, dels som et element i planlægningstraditionen, dels som en lovforeskrevet del af miljøvurderingsprocedurerne. Dette robuste system viser svagheder når det drejer sig om beslutninger vedrørende store statsligt finansierede infrastrukturprojekter. I tre af de fire delevalueringer (Uddevalla, Øresund på den danske side og Øresund på den svenske side), er der klare tegn på demokratisk underskud. For de danske deltagere i evalueringen var kernen i det demokratiske underskud en mangel på opfyldelse af de procedurelle forskrifter, for de svenske var det demokratiske underskud mere relateret til en manglende ’ægte indflydelse’ for de aktører, der protesterede mod beslutningerne. På den anden side vistes styrken i de demokratiske processer i de deliberative praksisser som blev igangsat af de organiserede civilsamfundsgrupper. Disse resultater rejser spørgsmålet: Hvad er vigtigst, at forbedre deliberation eller at forbedre procedurer? På det trafikpolitiske område når afhandlingen frem til at det er et både-og. På den ene side forventes en forbedret deliberativ praksis at give bedre mulighed for at oppositionelle synspunkter kan komme til orde, til at stemmer der repræsenterer det ikke-menneskelige og de fremtidige generationer bliver hørt samt til at styrke de politiske sider af beslutningen frem for de tekniske. På den anden side, hvis der skal findes en vej ud af det demokratiske underskud kræver det at der findes en måde at omsætte den ’kommunikative magt’ som bliver genereret i de deliberative praksisser til ’administrativ magt’. Ved at forøge det institutionelle råderum f.eks. i forbindelse med implementering af procedurer for strategisk miljøvurdering, kan mulighederne for at få indflydelse … Forbedringer af det institutionelle råderum - som for eksempel velovervejet implementering af procedurerne for strategisk miljøvurdering - kan bistå med at inddrage et bredt spektrum af civilsamfundsperspektiver på transportudviklingen. Dette øger muligheden for at ændre dagsordenen og problemdefinitionen som led i at omstridte transportdiskurser introduceres i centraladministrationen. Mens det civile samfunds rolle i de deliberative processer er helt central, anerkendes det at ikke alt hvad der foregår i det civile samfund nødvendigvis leder til mere demokrati eller bedre integration af miljøovervejelser i beslutningsprocesserne. Det bør derfor diskuteres hvordan man behandler synspunkter, som ikke inddrages i den endelige beslutning. Det er en vigtig opgave at følge med i de demokratiske kvaliteter i beslutningsprocesser på transportområdet. Risikoen ved et demokratisk underskud i beslutningerne vedrørende store trafikinfrastrukturbeslutninger er i Sverige og Danmark ikke så meget korruption, men snarere at der kommer en ubalance i formuleringen af trafikpolitikken og i innovationen inden for trafikområdet.
    OriginalsprogEngelsk
    Udgivelses stedRoskilde
    ForlagRoskilde Universitet
    Antal sider185
    StatusUdgivet - 2005

    Citer dette

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    title = "Democracy and Environmental Integration in Decision-Making: An Evaluation of Decisions for Large Infrastructure Projects",
    abstract = "This dissertation presents an evaluation of the democratic qualities of decision-making processes for large transport infrastructure projects in two Scandinavian countries: Denmark and Sweden. The study uncovers criteria from aggregative and deliberative theories of democracy to create a qualitative prism through which it critically analyses the basis of the claim that a democratic deficit exits in this area of decision-making. The study also seeks to understand whether conditions that enhance democratic deliberation in decision processes can contribute to enhance integration of environmental concerns into those decisions. Four central normative areas define the framework created for this evaluation: a) fulfilment of procedural obligations during the process; b) development of public debate; c) influence achieved or attempted during the decision-making process; d) existence and reproduction of institutional arrangements for expression of political will. The opportunities that non-state actors have to bring into question specific decisions of the state are analysed through the concept of institutional space. Different kinds of data are used; interviews with key actors, analysis of documents and secondary literature. A democratic survey comprising 21 criteria was also administered and used to validate the interview results. The three empirical cases under consideration are two highways, one in Uddevalla, Sweden; one in Silkeborg, Denmark, and the Fixed Link connection over {\O}resund. The results exemplify points of democratic strength and fragility in the decision processes. A robust system of participatory procedures exists, in both countries, as part of the planning tradition or as part of the legally mandatory environmental assessment procedures. This robust system shows fragility for government-sponsored large infrastructure decisions. In three of the four evaluations (Uddevalla, {\O}resund/Denmark, {\O}resund/Sweden), evidences of a democratic deficit were apparent. To the Danish evaluators the core of the deficit was related to the lack of ‘government’s fulfilment of procedural obligations’, to the Swedish evaluators, the deficit perception was related to lack of ‘authentic influence’ achieved by actors protesting the decision. Signs of strength in the democratic qualities of the process were found in the deliberative practices initiated by organized civil society groups. The results raised the question: what is more important improving deliberation or improving procedures? The thesis proposes that in the transport policy area both have a role to play. On the one hand, improved deliberative practices are expected to create opportunities to recognize opposing views, allow representation of non-human constituencies and future generations, and give expression to the political rather than technical nature of these decisions. On the other, cutting a path through the existing democratic deficit requires finding ways to convert the ‘communicative power’ generated in deliberative practices into ‘administrative power’. Improving institutional spaces, such as with appropriate implementation of Strategic Environmental Assessment procedures, can aid in the inclusion of diverse perspectives that reinforce changes in agenda setting and problem definition as part of the process of transmission of contested discourses to the state. While the role of civil society in deliberation is crucial, the study accepts that not all that goes on in civil society is conducive either to more democracy or greater environmental integration. The relevant discussion is then how to deal with differences that may have no reconciliation in practice. Keeping track of the democratic quality of transport decisions is an important endeavour. The risk posed by running a democratic deficit in many large transport project decisions is not one of corruption, at least not in the case of these two Scandinavian countries, but one of imbalance in transport policy formulation and innovation.",
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    Democracy and Environmental Integration in Decision-Making : An Evaluation of Decisions for Large Infrastructure Projects. / Figueroa, Maria.

    Roskilde : Roskilde Universitet, 2005. 185 s.

    Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandlingForskning

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    T2 - An Evaluation of Decisions for Large Infrastructure Projects

    AU - Figueroa, Maria

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    N2 - This dissertation presents an evaluation of the democratic qualities of decision-making processes for large transport infrastructure projects in two Scandinavian countries: Denmark and Sweden. The study uncovers criteria from aggregative and deliberative theories of democracy to create a qualitative prism through which it critically analyses the basis of the claim that a democratic deficit exits in this area of decision-making. The study also seeks to understand whether conditions that enhance democratic deliberation in decision processes can contribute to enhance integration of environmental concerns into those decisions. Four central normative areas define the framework created for this evaluation: a) fulfilment of procedural obligations during the process; b) development of public debate; c) influence achieved or attempted during the decision-making process; d) existence and reproduction of institutional arrangements for expression of political will. The opportunities that non-state actors have to bring into question specific decisions of the state are analysed through the concept of institutional space. Different kinds of data are used; interviews with key actors, analysis of documents and secondary literature. A democratic survey comprising 21 criteria was also administered and used to validate the interview results. The three empirical cases under consideration are two highways, one in Uddevalla, Sweden; one in Silkeborg, Denmark, and the Fixed Link connection over Øresund. The results exemplify points of democratic strength and fragility in the decision processes. A robust system of participatory procedures exists, in both countries, as part of the planning tradition or as part of the legally mandatory environmental assessment procedures. This robust system shows fragility for government-sponsored large infrastructure decisions. In three of the four evaluations (Uddevalla, Øresund/Denmark, Øresund/Sweden), evidences of a democratic deficit were apparent. To the Danish evaluators the core of the deficit was related to the lack of ‘government’s fulfilment of procedural obligations’, to the Swedish evaluators, the deficit perception was related to lack of ‘authentic influence’ achieved by actors protesting the decision. Signs of strength in the democratic qualities of the process were found in the deliberative practices initiated by organized civil society groups. The results raised the question: what is more important improving deliberation or improving procedures? The thesis proposes that in the transport policy area both have a role to play. On the one hand, improved deliberative practices are expected to create opportunities to recognize opposing views, allow representation of non-human constituencies and future generations, and give expression to the political rather than technical nature of these decisions. On the other, cutting a path through the existing democratic deficit requires finding ways to convert the ‘communicative power’ generated in deliberative practices into ‘administrative power’. Improving institutional spaces, such as with appropriate implementation of Strategic Environmental Assessment procedures, can aid in the inclusion of diverse perspectives that reinforce changes in agenda setting and problem definition as part of the process of transmission of contested discourses to the state. While the role of civil society in deliberation is crucial, the study accepts that not all that goes on in civil society is conducive either to more democracy or greater environmental integration. The relevant discussion is then how to deal with differences that may have no reconciliation in practice. Keeping track of the democratic quality of transport decisions is an important endeavour. The risk posed by running a democratic deficit in many large transport project decisions is not one of corruption, at least not in the case of these two Scandinavian countries, but one of imbalance in transport policy formulation and innovation.

    AB - This dissertation presents an evaluation of the democratic qualities of decision-making processes for large transport infrastructure projects in two Scandinavian countries: Denmark and Sweden. The study uncovers criteria from aggregative and deliberative theories of democracy to create a qualitative prism through which it critically analyses the basis of the claim that a democratic deficit exits in this area of decision-making. The study also seeks to understand whether conditions that enhance democratic deliberation in decision processes can contribute to enhance integration of environmental concerns into those decisions. Four central normative areas define the framework created for this evaluation: a) fulfilment of procedural obligations during the process; b) development of public debate; c) influence achieved or attempted during the decision-making process; d) existence and reproduction of institutional arrangements for expression of political will. The opportunities that non-state actors have to bring into question specific decisions of the state are analysed through the concept of institutional space. Different kinds of data are used; interviews with key actors, analysis of documents and secondary literature. A democratic survey comprising 21 criteria was also administered and used to validate the interview results. The three empirical cases under consideration are two highways, one in Uddevalla, Sweden; one in Silkeborg, Denmark, and the Fixed Link connection over Øresund. The results exemplify points of democratic strength and fragility in the decision processes. A robust system of participatory procedures exists, in both countries, as part of the planning tradition or as part of the legally mandatory environmental assessment procedures. This robust system shows fragility for government-sponsored large infrastructure decisions. In three of the four evaluations (Uddevalla, Øresund/Denmark, Øresund/Sweden), evidences of a democratic deficit were apparent. To the Danish evaluators the core of the deficit was related to the lack of ‘government’s fulfilment of procedural obligations’, to the Swedish evaluators, the deficit perception was related to lack of ‘authentic influence’ achieved by actors protesting the decision. Signs of strength in the democratic qualities of the process were found in the deliberative practices initiated by organized civil society groups. The results raised the question: what is more important improving deliberation or improving procedures? The thesis proposes that in the transport policy area both have a role to play. On the one hand, improved deliberative practices are expected to create opportunities to recognize opposing views, allow representation of non-human constituencies and future generations, and give expression to the political rather than technical nature of these decisions. On the other, cutting a path through the existing democratic deficit requires finding ways to convert the ‘communicative power’ generated in deliberative practices into ‘administrative power’. Improving institutional spaces, such as with appropriate implementation of Strategic Environmental Assessment procedures, can aid in the inclusion of diverse perspectives that reinforce changes in agenda setting and problem definition as part of the process of transmission of contested discourses to the state. While the role of civil society in deliberation is crucial, the study accepts that not all that goes on in civil society is conducive either to more democracy or greater environmental integration. The relevant discussion is then how to deal with differences that may have no reconciliation in practice. Keeping track of the democratic quality of transport decisions is an important endeavour. The risk posed by running a democratic deficit in many large transport project decisions is not one of corruption, at least not in the case of these two Scandinavian countries, but one of imbalance in transport policy formulation and innovation.

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