Elisa Olivito

Participation and Environment: A Critique

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'Common goods' and 'participation' have become key expressions of our democracies, around which are converged many expectations for change. Still, the work does not deal with the state of the literature on 'common goods' understood as a 'new category' of legal thought or outline their essential ascribable features. Instead, the author highlights their relation with the theme of participation. The adjectivation utilized to indicate such goods in fact does not pertain just to their ownership but also suggests that, in postulating community practices of utilization and shared forms of management, they are inevitably tied to the idea of participation. The participatory claims, which ever increasingly more often accompany the regulation thereof, are truly a consequence of their intrinsically relational nature, to the point that the way of life of the single communities and society at large is built around them. The work deals with these themes with reference to the environment since it offers a good subject for discussion, where the relational aspect emerges. The work particularly brings out how 'participation' has come to occupy a great space in environmental policies and in scholarly reflections, while at the same time not failing to emphasize that a certain caution is necessary in pointing out the good points and potentialities of participatory instruments. If the crisis of representative democracy, on the one hand, and the importance of environmental problems, on the other hand, have given rise to the need for a different, more direct participation of the citizenry in decisions concerning environmental issues, it is nonetheless important to clear the field of overly optimistic readings of forces pushing in this direction.

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