Making democracy matter: Responsibility and effective environmental governance in regional Australia

Wallington, Tabatha J. and Lawrence, Geoffrey (2008) Making democracy matter: Responsibility and effective environmental governance in regional Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 24 3: 277-290. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2007.11.003

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Author Wallington, Tabatha J.
Lawrence, Geoffrey
Title Making democracy matter: Responsibility and effective environmental governance in regional Australia
Journal name Journal of Rural Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0743-0167
1873-1392
Publication date 2008-07-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2007.11.003
Volume 24
Issue 3
Start page 277
End page 290
Total pages 14
Editor Paul Coke
Place of publication Oxford, U.K.
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Subject C1
160605 Environmental Politics
960799 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards not elsewhere classified
1205 Urban and Regional Planning
1604 Human Geography
160802 Environmental Sociology
160507 Environment Policy
160609 Political Theory and Political Philosophy
Formatted abstract
This paper will critically examine the changing social relations of responsibility associated with Australia's current regional ‘experiment’ in environmental governance. This experiment centrally involves the transfer of responsibility for natural resource management (NRM) from Federal and State governments to community-based regional bodies. Although governments are promoting democratic NRM planning at the regional level as a more effective means of addressing Australia's environmental problems, we argue that a tension is emerging in association with the simultaneous pursuit of these goals: ‘effectiveness’ has been defined in terms of the accountability of regional communities to central governments for the achievement of short-term results, an approach which is undermining the democratic promise that regional bodies would be responsive to wider community concerns. The notion of ‘responsibility’ provides a means of investigating this tension, as accountability and responsiveness are both elements of the overarching concept of responsibility. The examination of NRM institutions through this theoretical lens indicates that the shared substantive interests required to motivate a sense of shared responsibility amongst regional actors have been sidelined by the procedural demands of accountability. We argue that, if NRM planning is to be genuinely accountable and responsive to substantive public ends, the properly social and dialogical nature of responsibility relationships must be recovered. The paper concludes with a discussion of the social and political relations of responsibility that appear to provide the best opportunities for effective environmental governance, and thus for the achievement of more sustainable NRM outcomes, at the regional level.
Crown Copyright © 2007 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keyword Environmental governance
Responsibility
Democracy
Accountability
Responsiveness
Natural resource management
Regional governance
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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Created: Tue, 31 Mar 2009, 21:05:57 EST by Margaret Gately on behalf of School of Social Science