United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Environment Outlook-1 - The Web version

Chapter 3: Policy Responses and Directions

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Summary of Regional Policy Responses

Environmental Citizenship

The past five years has witnessed the emergence of democratization in several regions and with it, a growth in the intertwining of politics and the environment. Many of the mechanisms required to successfully implement sustainable development rely on accountable partnerships between government, industry, business, and the community at large. The value of popular participation by both individuals and interest groups in the development of environmental policy is increasingly being recognized by formerly centralized governments; thus, opening the way for greater environmental citizenship in the future.

In Africa, decentralization of government authorities offers potential for increased grass-roots participation in policy development and implementation in the future. Individual rights to a clean and healthy environment are clearly acknowledged in the constitutions of several African countries and care for the environment considered a duty of all citizens. In specific instances, the role of NGOs in Latin America and the Caribbean in policy development and implementation has grown in recent years. Continued involvement of NGOs and other responsible interest groups is important for the future of environmental management in the Region. The role of environmental NGOs in West Asia in policy development and environmental management is still minimal. Community based action programmes are evident in a number of countries in Asia and the Pacific, with people-oriented environmental restoration programmes and involvement of women notable in south Asia.

Significant popular mobilization has created networks of environmental organizations in civil society in both North America and Europe. A plethora of environmental NGOs contributes vigorously to policy evolution, and implementation and monitoring of programmes in both regions. Increased participation of the private sector in policy development and environmental management is significant. Voluntary codes of conduct, guidelines on environmental management and similar initiatives contribute increasingly to sound stewardship of the environment and economic development.

Political reform in many countries has also improved access to information for environmentalists. Additional opportunities are growing rapidly where national telecommunications supporting the global information highway are adequate and affordable.

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