Second Draft: September, 1999

Published 2001


Great Expectations, Mixed Results:

Trends in Citizen Involvement in Canadian Environmental Governance



Anthony H.J. Dorcey and Timothy McDaniels

Paper Prepared for SSHRC Environmental Trends Project



1) Defining CI and Its Objectives


2) Two Bursts of Innovation: Great Expectations, Mixed Results

2.1) Mid Sixties to Late Eighties: Should Citizens Be Involved In Environmental Decisions?

2.2) The Nineties: Sustainable Development and Multistakeholder Processes

2.3) Cycles Trending Upwards and Outwards


3) Negotiation-Based CI Innovations In Sustainability Governance

3.1) Negotiation, Facilitation, Mediation and Consensus

3.2) Co-Management, Civic Engagement and Transformation of Governance


4) Consensus-Based Approaches: Experience and Reform

4.1) Two Extremes of Current CI Practice

4.2) Conceptual Aspects of Consensus as a CI Norm

Individual and Group Behavioral Decision Research

Legitimacy of Stakeholder Consensus As Governance

Status Quo Bias

4.3) Structured Decision Processes in Consensus-Based CI


Concepts for Group Decision Processes

4.4) Progressive Approaches in Consensus-Based CI

4.5) Contingent Approaches To Consensus-Based CI


5) Evaluation of CI


6) Future Trends in CI Policies and Research

Trends in the Environmental Governance Context for CI

Trends Towards Contingent Approaches

Trends in Best Practices

Trends Towards Adaptive Strategies

Reasonable Expectations, Better Results



Great Expectations, Mixed Results:

Trends in Citizen Involvement in Canadian Environmental Governance



The trend toward greater citizen involvement (CI) is beyond doubt one of the most influential and yet least well-defined aspects of environmental decision making in Canada and other countries. How a nation involves its citizens in defining, structuring and analyzing key environmental questions can have major influence on what is decided. The emergence of this trend is demonstrated by the proliferation of diverse CI efforts in environmental governance processes around the world. Its growingimportance is underscored by recent recommendations for greater CI in environmental policy and sustainability choices, such as those by Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (1993, 1996, 1998), two prestigious advisory panels in the United States (National Research Council, 1996; Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment, 1997) and the World Bank (1996).


At the same time, recommendations for greater CI are not without controversy. For example, responses to the U.S. advisory panels' recommendations for greater CI in managing environmental risks have ranged from wholehearted endorsement to deep skepticism. Such a range in responses is understandable. On one hand, it is clear that policy for environmental and health risk management involves public resources and public values, so it is easy to argue that judgments by the public should be used to help guide such decisions. On the other hand, all concerned parties would agree that risk management decisions are enormously complex, replete with technical uncertainties and perplexing value tradeoffs. Making and implementing wise policy choices is difficult, even for those who have specialized in risk management efforts for decades. How then could members of the interested lay public hope to understand and play a meaningful role in making such complex, high stakes choices? Given the experience with adversarial politics and the high costs associated with CI processes, when if at all should the public be involved? How can CI best be structured and conducted to meaningfully integrate deliberation and analysis as a basis for public policy? While questions like these have been the subject of fundamental debate and controversy for thousands of years, the biophysical, technological, socio-economic and political-institutional context of the late 20th Century is novel.


Both the significance and diversity of CI make it difficult to treat comprehensively as a single trend, or to completely address the range of issues it raises. Further, the topic is characterized by widely differing ideological, disciplinary and academic/practitioner perspectives, distributed among diverse literatures, and confounded by limited and often inconclusive and contradictory empirical research. We have therefore chosen to view the topic in terms of several selected trends that are different slices of a huge and complex field, focusing on Canadian experiences in the context of the North American literature.


The organization of this chapter reflects our desire to consider CI in terms of several different sub-trends. Each section is approached in varying ways appropriate to the particular sub-trend being examined while cumulatively and selectively building an overall perspective on CI trends. The first section defines CI in environmental governance and introduces a set of important concepts and typologies for examining trends within CI. It draws on North American literature and reveals the scope for immense differences in views on the trends that are discussed in following sections.


Section 2 highlights trends in the evolution of CI activities in Canada, focusing particularly on British Columbia, over the last three decades. This regional perspective illustrates how CI has evolved, waxed and waned in its role amidst the changing politics of one part of the country where there has been a high degree of experimentation. It concludes that there have been two major bursts of innovation in CI associated with the periods of heightened environmental concerns in the early 1970s and again in the early 1990s. Further, there is an underlying longer term trend towards not only greater utilization of CI but potentially more fundamental transformation of the environmental governance system.


Section 3 examines in more detail the trends in CI approaches and techniques employed in British Columbia and Canada during the second burst of innovation. It focuses on two key aspects: the growing use of negotiation-based techniques, including negotiation, facilitation and mediation, and the proliferation of approaches to CI in environmental governance utilizing these techniques, such as co-management and partnerships. Highlighted is the emergence of a remarkably interdisciplinary literature with shared themes that is moving the discussion and practice of CI towards a potential transformation of environmental governance.


Section 4 considers this transformative potential more specifically and critically. Two extremes of current practice on a continuum running from maximal to minimal stakeholder control of CI activities are assessed and potential middle-ground approaches are explored. At one extreme are approaches to CI which place control over the process design and management entirely in the hands of the stakeholders, while at the other extreme control is entirely in the hands of those experts designing and managing the process. Drawing on the literatures relating to structured, progressive, contingent and adaptive decision making, middle-ground approaches are proposed, giving particular attention to the key design and management functions of the sponsors and conductors of the CI process.


Section 5 briefly reviews four recent evaluations of CI in order to illustrate the theoretical and empirical strengths and weaknesses of different types of assessments. Attention is focused on the critical need for clarity about the goals of CI and the challenges of specifying them and measuring their achievement in practice.


The concluding section suggests a strategy for more effectively learning while implementing the middle ground approaches we have explored. It indicates our views on future trends and research issues that will become increasingly important for CI.



1) Defining CI and Its Objectives


Citizen involvement (CI) has been defined in many different ways. For the purposes of this chapter we have defined it broadly as processes for the involvement of citizens in advising and making decisions on matters under government authority, that augment or supplant decision making through established channels of representative government.


A potential source of confusion in analyzing CI trends is the different processes or writers may use the words "public" or "civic" or "community" or "stakeholder" instead of "citizen", and "participation" or "engagement" or "consultation" in place of "involvement". Sometimes these terms are used synonymously, other times there are significant differences in meaning. For example, in certain instances "stakeholder involvement" is differentiated from "citizen involvement", by limiting the former to only those who have a specific interest in the issue as opposed to being generally interested as citizens (e.g., the effected landowners versus all voters in the jurisdiction). In other situations the term "stakeholder" may be used to identify the non-governmental interests and imply the participants represent discrete constituencies. On yet other occasions, "participation" is distinguished from "involvement" or "engagement" as being somehow more passive (e.g. citizens being merely informed versus actively contributing to or making decisions). Commonly, "consultation" is differentiated from "involvement" as being a purely advisory process as opposed to providing for direct decision making. In this chapter we use each of these terms as they are relevant to the particular CI process or literature being discussed and wherever it is important we explicitly recognize specific differences in the intent of the users.


Governance is the larger context for considering CI and is broadly conceived to be the inter-related set of processes within which individuals in varied roles make decisions about the environment. Potentially these include roles as varied as voter in elections and referenda, elected representative, political activist, buyer and seller in markets, volunteer producer, petitioner in the courts, or participant in government or business processes. Environmental governance is that subset of processes relating to decision making with respect to the biophysical environment. As will be seen, one of the notable trends is that CI in environmental decision making has increasingly been viewed in the larger governance system context, under the rubric of sustainability, with its ecological, socio-economic and institutional dimensions.


Reflecting differing theoretical and practical perspectives, many varied taxonomies of CI have been employed to organize investigation of this vast and complex field. Three common types derive from focusing on (i) democratic theory, (ii) power relationships, and (iii) tools. For example Beierle (1998) describes how differing views on the nature of democracy can lead to different views on the role of CI in democratic process:


A managerial perspective entrusts elected representatives and their appointed administrators with identifying and pursuing the common good (Laird, 1993, p.343). While knowledge of public preferences is vital to a managerial approach, the direct involvement of the public in decision-making is seen as a threat to the common good because it opens the door to self-interested strategic behavior. A pluralist perspective views government, not as a manager of the public will, but as an arbitrator among various organized interest groups. In pluralism, there is no objective "common good" but a relative common good arising out of the free deliberation and negotiation among organized interest groups (Williams and Matheny, 1995). The popular perspective calls for the direct participation of citizens, rather than their representatives, in making policy. Popular democratic theory stresses the importance of direct representation in instilling democratic values in citizens and strengthening the body politic.


The power perspective is well illustrated in the seminal paper by Arnstein (1969) which provides a taxonomy for CI based on the decision making role of the participants within the process. At the bottom rung of her public involvement ladder, the interested public is only informed of policy issues; at the top rung, the interested public makes the decision (Figure 1)(Temporarily after references at end). Drawing on her experiences in the US as Chief Advisor on Citizen Participation for HUD's Model Cities Administration during the second half of the sixties Arnstein was concerned that the "heated controversy over 'citizen participation,' 'citizen control,' and 'maximum feasible involvement of the poor,' has been waged largely in terms of exacerbated rhetoric and misleading euphemism." For her, "citizen participation is a categorical term for citizen power. It is the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future. It is the strategy by which the have-nots join in determining how information is shared, goals and policies are set, tax resources are allocated, programs are operated, and benefits like contracts and patronage are parceled out. In short, it is the means by which they can induce significant social reform which enables them to share in the benefits of the affluent society." For Arnstein, citizen participation is citizen empowerment and the ladder is her typology for differentiating non-participation and tokenism from meaningful citizen power. Thirty years later, controversy about the terminology of citizen participation and its real intent continues and Arnstein's ladder and adaptations of it are still widely used to indicate the extent to which citizens are empowered to decide (e.g. Berkes, 1994; Rocha, 1997).


The tools perspective is commonly found in the numerous manuals on citizen involvement. In these, the focus is on the approaches and techniques that can be used for conducting CI and where and how they might be used in the process. In Figure 1 we list some of the key approaches and techniques that are usually discussed in such typologies. The list is ever growing and the development of variants results in different names.


We have arrayed the three perspectives beside each other in Figure 1 in order to show their potential interrelationships. While there may appear to be some broad correlations, mapping across the perspectives should be done with care, as multiple combinations are possible. One complicating factor is that a CI program may well employ a wide variety of the tools either at the same time or at different stages in the program. For example, a popularist approach might start with an information program and surveys before going on to add consensus processes (i.e. the combination and sequence of tools used is critical to understanding use of CI).


A second complication is the differences between use in principle and in practice. For example, it should not be assumed that the managerialist perspective will only be associated with the lower rungs of Arnstein's ladder and the use of tools such as information programs. A CI program may well be using tools higher up the array such as negotiation in a consultation process but the intent of the sponsors remains nonetheless managerial (i.e. the true intent of the sponsor is crucial to understanding use of CI).


Differing normative perspectives, complications associated with varying typologies, and practical difficulties in undertaking empirical assessments present major challenges to the evaluation of CI programs and approaches. Any evaluation needs to be explicit about the viewpoint being taken and the specific objectives that provide the bases for its evaluation. Four viewpoints from which evaluation could be conducted include: the sponsor of the CI program, the citizens or groups directly involved, the larger society, and external analysts (Renn, Webler and Wiedemann, 1995). Not only will goals and objectives likely vary between these four groupings, they will also probably vary among the constituent members of each (e.g. while the environmental NGOs want a popularist approach, the developers prefer a managerialist approach).


Goals and objectives for CI could focus on either the process or desired outcomes. Process goals relate to who is involved, when and how, whereas outcome goals relate to the desired consequences. Process oriented goals are well exemplified by the ten Guiding Principles of Consensus Processes that were developed by the Round Tables of Canada through a consensus process (Table 1).

Table 1.

Guiding Principles of Consensus Processes

 1. Purpose Driven: People need a reason to participate in the process. 
 2. Inclusive Not Exclusive: All parties with a significant interest in the issue should be involved in the consensus process.
 3. Voluntary Participation: The parties who are affected or interested participate voluntarily.
 4. Self Design: The parties design the consensus process.
 5. Flexibility: Flexibility should be designed into the process.
 6. Equal Opportunity: All parties must have equal access to relevant information and the opportunity to participate effectively throughout the process.
 7. Respect For Diverse Interests: Acceptance of the diverse values, interests and knowledge of the parties involved in the consensus process is essential.
 8. Accountability: The parties are accountable both to their constituencies, and to the process that they have agreed to establish.
 9. Time Limits: Realistic deadlines are necessary throughout the process. 
 10. Implementation: Commitment to implementation and effective monitoring are essential parts of any agreement. 

National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (1993)


In contrast, Beierle (1998) has proposed a set of six outcome oriented social goals by focusing on the problems that CI is intended to fix:

As can readily be seen, process and outcome goals are often expressed in similar ways even though their concerns are different. Implicitly process goals are frequently seen as means for achieving ends; for example, making the process inclusive not exclusive (Principle #2 in Table 1) contributes to reducing conflict. Comprehensive though the Round Tables' and Beierle's goals may be, some other goals could also be identified from various viewpoints (e.g. while some of the goals might be related to empowerment, it is not readily obvious how, if at all, this is to be considered).


Beyond the complexities in specifying the goals and objectives to be used in evaluation of CI are immense practical difficulties in undertaking empirical assessments of the extent to which they are achieved. It is difficult to design and implement appropriate methods and instruments for assessing CI for a particular decision. Also the immense differences among the governance contexts within which decisions are made create major challenges in undertaking assessments of the use of CI. Not surprisingly, Beierle (1998) concludes that "the state of evaluation still resembles one researcher's 1983 description: 'the participation concept is complex and value laden; there are no widely held criteria for judging success and failure; there are no agreed-upon evaluation methods; and there are few reliable measurement tools.'(Rosener, 1983, p.45." Given the infant state of the assessment art and its relatively infrequent and uneven application, there are severe limitations on our ability to assess evaluative comments and conclusions about CI in discussing trends. As will be seen, we have elected to base our evaluative comments in part on the range of claims in the literature and in part on our own experience, while pointing out where research is needed. In the concluding sections we suggest strategies for proceeding in the light of the critical need for better evaluative information.


2) Two Bursts of Innovation: Great Expectations, Mixed Results


It was not until the mid-1960s that CI in Canadian environmental governance began to involve the approaches and techniques that have become so common today. The next two sub-sections highlight some of the key events and trends in the context for and use of CI since the mid-1960s. It identifies two bursts of innovation, focusing particularly on British Columbia while relating to developments elsewhere in Canada.


2.1) Mid Sixties to Late Eighties: Should Citizens Be Involved In Environmental Decisions?

During the 1960s concerns about environmental problems increased greatly and environmental issues rose on the public agenda in unprecedented ways (Dorcey, 1987). The publication in 1962 of Silent Spring, in which Rachel Carson raised an alarm about threats to the environment and human health from increasing use of pesticides and other synthetic chemicals, is often cited as one of the key catalysts. Widespread concerns arose about water, land and air pollution and habitat destruction. Canadian attention was focused on these issues by the 1966 national symposium on Pollution and Our Environment organized by the newly formed Canadian Council of Resource Ministers. The response was a remarkable period of innovations in environmental policies and associated citizen involvement processes, often following similar developments in the United States (e.g. National Environmental Policy Act, 1969).


Three major foci for these initiatives in Canada were planning for urban development, river basin management, and assessments for project developments. The planning process for Greater Vancouver's Livable Region Strategy, beginning in the early seventies, was a pathbreaking example of the new approaches to citizen involvement in urban planning that began to develop across the country (Lash, 1976). Environmental concerns were central to the growth management issues that were emerging. In Greater Vancouver these revolved around major new development proposals such as freeways, subways and expansion of the airport. Growing alienation of citizens from their governments, the increasing complexity of government, and the rapidity of technological and social change were among the reasons given at the time for the unprecedented creation of nine citizen policy committees that took a central role in the development of the Livable Region Strategy.


In 1967 the federal government offered to fund a comprehensive river basin planning experiment with provinces in each region of Canada (Dorcey, 1987). Initially intergovernmental cost-shared agreements were negotiated for the Okanagan, Qu'Appelle and the Saint John basins. Through the first half of the 1970s major basin planning studies were undertaken across Canada and introduced the newly emerging techniques of multiple purpose, multiple means and multiple objective analyses. At the same time, the federal and provincial governments introduced project review processes that were designed to assess the environmental and social impacts of developments that had previously been neglected in cost-benefit analyses. The assessments focused particularly on mega-projects such as the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and its impact on the Peace-Athabasca Delta, exploration drilling in the Beaufort Sea, and the James Bay hydro project.


In response to growing demands for greater public involvement these planning and project review initiatives experimented with a wide diversity of communication and participation techniques. For example, the river basin planning studies included the use of information brochures, media releases, citizen surveys, public hearings, workshops, task forces and advisory committees (Sewell, 1975). They also explored strategies for involving the public in different ways from the beginning to the end of the studies. At the time, an independent reviewer of the Greater Vancouver citizen policy committees concluded that they were a "highly innovative and astonishingly successful experiment in the area of citizen involvement" (Smith, 1974). In reviewing the basin planning experience, Sewell (1975) pointed out that while the techniques had been used in various Canadian governance contexts before, they had not previously been utilized so intensively as in the water and related environmental resources planning. Using Arnstein's ladder he concluded that "While it is probably true that Non-Participation occurs in water resources planning, there is usually some Degree of Tokenism, and increasingly a move towards Citizen Power." However, he cautioned that the programs "must not be a facade, giving the impression that the public's views are being sought and taken into account but in reality not considered at all. Nor must information programs be titled participation or involvement programs."


Through the mid-seventies a series of major public inquiries relating to development of mega-energy projects set new precedents for CI: the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry under Berger (1977), the Alaska Highway Pipeline Inquiry under Lysyk (1977), and the Kitimat Pipeline Marine Terminal Inquiry under Thompson (1977). While each of these introduced innovations into the traditional public hearing process, Berger's inquiry is renowned worldwide for its unprecedented commitment and approaches to community involvement. To quote one review at the time:

The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry must now rank as one of the most successful public participation events in Canadian history. By almost any criteria it achieved results far beyond the expectations of those who took part. It has produced massive documentation on the environment, economy and society of the Mackenzie and Western Arctic; everyone who wished a say had one; and the commissioner has become the unlikeliest folk hero of the seventies and his report a best-seller that struck a mortal blow to the largest engineering project ever proposed. To question the success of the inquiry seems foolish, if not sacrilegious, for its results have been generally satisfying to the vast majority of citizen participants. (Beakhust, 1979)


Not all innovations during the 1970s were viewed with such enthusiasm; opinions differed among the interested parties. In the second half of the decade increasing disenchantment with the results of planning and impact assessment led to questioning of the innovations (Brule et al., 1981). The river basin studies were seen by some as unproductive in resolving issues and too time consuming and costly. The experiments with public involvement were criticized for delaying the process, overemphasizing the interests of the active publics, and usurping the role of elected officials. There were commonly delays of up to two years in responding to recommendations, which frustrated the heightened expectations that had been created by public involvement and sometimes meant that the recommendations were overtaken by events. There was equal, if not greater, dissatisfaction with impact assessment processes. Project proponents increasingly questioned their costs and benefits (Economic Council of Canada, 1981), environmental interests were critical of their effectiveness (Rees 1981), and technical analysts savagely critiqued their data, methods and conclusions (Rosenberg et al., 1981). At a time when the Canadian economy was weak, negative perceptions seemed to overwhelm the positive and for the ensuing decade there was relatively much less attention to environmental policy and CI in environmental governance. Yet, major precedents had been set and there was no longer widespread questioning of the role for CI, as there had been when the innovations began.


2.2) The Nineties: Sustainable Development and Multistakeholder Processes

In the second half of the 1980s environmental issues re-surfaced as major public concerns in Canada. With the release of the Brundtland Report in 1987 these concerns gained momentum in the new context of sustainable development (Dorcey, 1991). The National Task Force on the Environment and the Economy established by the federal government to make recommendations on Canada's response to the new imperatives for sustainable development was an example of a new generation of citizen involvement approaches based on multistakeholder and consensus processes. The diverse mix of senior governmental and non-governmental members of the Task Force was highly impressed by the potential usefulness of the approach for building understanding about their different perspectives on the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development. They therefore recommended similar multistakeholder round tables be established by each of the provinces and mandated to draft sustainable development strategies. Through the early 1990s the federal and provincial governments established various forms of round tables and a multitude of others were created by governments and non-governmental groups from the local to the national level as mechanisms for reaching agreement on sustainable development strategies (Howlett, 1990; Projet de Société, 1995).


Although the specifics varied greatly across the country, events in British Columbia, where great enthusiasm emerged for experimenting with new multistakeholder approaches, illustrate some of the key trends. The B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy was established by the provincial government in 1990. It had 31 governmental and non-governmental members and, in comparison to other provinces, was distinctive in including no cabinet ministers and a mandate emphasizing development of conflict resolution and consensus processes (Howlett, 1990). Its use of multistakeholder mechanisms and consensus in drafting recommendations on sustainable development strategies, along with two early reports on the potential for using them in all aspects of sustainability governance, elevated interest in using the new approaches (B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, 1991).


The two volume report defined consensus processes as encompassing "techniques that go by a variety of names - negotiation, dispute resolution, mediation, facilitation and getting-to-yes....all have a common basis in collaboration and seeking agreement" (1991 p. 2). The reports assessed 20 cases where consensus processes had already been tried in the province and proposed guidelines for their improved and more extensive use. Recommendations for using multistakeholder processes for negotiating agreements on environmental regulations (so-called "reg-neg") and the incorporation of consensus processes into environmental permitting and licensing, were developed using consensus processes that involved key governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. In the ensuing two years the National Round Table led a dialogue among all the Canadian round tables that built on the BC consensus proposals and resulted in the widely cited guidelines: Building Consensus for a Sustainable Future: Guiding Principles (1993) (Table 1).


Within British Columbia multistakeholder consensus processes began to be extensively utilized and were given additional impetus by the establishment of the B.C. Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE) which was designed to address growing conflicts over land use, particularly in relation to forestry. While the Round Table had popularized the focus on "consensus processes", CORE introduced "shared decision-making processes". Shared decision-making was defined as "an approach to public participation in decision-making (especially land use planning) in which, on a certain set of issues for a defined period of time, those with authority to make a decision and those affected by that decision are empowered jointly to seek an outcome that accommodates, rather than compromises, the interests of all concerned." (CORE, 1996 p. 167). After four tumultuous years of testing this new approach in practice and a higher degree of stakeholder involvement than had ever been attempted before, the Commission drew together the results of its work in bold and far-reaching proposals for an overarching Sustainability Act, including major innovations in public participation processes and dispute resolution systems (CORE, 1994a) that were seen to be essential to the successful pursuit of sustainability. Recommendations on citizen involvement included: (i) enshrining general rights of participation in law; (ii) adopting a public participation policy covering all agencies of government and including procedures for reviewing compliance and performance; and, (iii) arguably the most far-reaching of all, creating community resource boards "as a vehicle for supporting direct, democratic and intensive public participation in land use and resource and environmental management." (CORE, 1994b p.11). The recommendations on a provincial dispute resolution system were designed to complement the preventive measures expected from improved stakeholder participation processes by strengthening adjudicative procedures and including explicit provisions for review, appeal, notification, standing, use of mediation, and publication of reasons for decisions (CORE, 1994c).


By 1992, a bewildering array of initiatives involving multistakeholder and consensus processes were underway in British Columbia. These included processes being conducted by the Round Table and CORE, as well as province-wide "policy dialogues" on new water, energy and environmental legislation. In addition, agencies were beginning to incorporate multistakeholder and consensus processes into their ongoing planning and management programs, most notably the B.C. Ministry of Forests in Land and Resource Management Planning efforts. At the same time, initiatives associated with the federal government's $1.4 billion Green Plan (a multisectoral initiative to implement new environmental protection and sustainable development programs) were starting similar multistakeholder processes as part of a strategy of building partnerships (Hoberg and Harrison, 1994). In British Columbia, there were major Green Plan initiatives relating to forestry, agriculture, fisheries and environment. These included a special focus on the Fraser Basin, specifically a $100 million program for pollution control, habitat restoration and improved fish and wildlife management. Not only did communities have to cope with this tsunami of federal and provincial initiatives they also became preoccupied with their own. Some of these were launched by local and regional governments, others by non-governmental groups in the communities (B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, et al.,1994). These local processes were strongly encouraged and supported by guidebooks from the national and provincial round tables and aided by funding from the federal Green Plan.


By 1993 stakeholders across the province were struggling to cope with all the processes claiming their time and attention. Even though some steps were taken to coordinate the initiatives, such as through the use of the newly established Fraser Basin Management Board, they were often seen as being more part of the problem than a potential solution (Dorcey, 1997). Recognizing the seriousness of the emerging problems, the B.C. Round Table produced a report recommending ways to use the array of citizen involvement approaches more strategically and efficiently, arguing that multistakeholder consensus processes should be reserved for selected purposes (Dorcey et al., 1994). It proved impossible to halt a major backlash. High profile conflicts and controversies surrounding CORE's round tables (dramatized by upwards of 15,000 stakeholders marching on the legislature to protest its forest land use proposals for Vancouver Island and the Commissioner being hung in effigy in the Cariboo) contributed to a perception that things were getting worse rather than better. In the context of a deteriorating economy and anticipating an upcoming election, the provincial government closed down or restricted many of the initiatives. The Round Table and Energy Commission were quickly terminated in 1994 and CORE was eventually closed down completely in 1996. Of the major initiatives only the Fraser Basin Management Board (FBMB) (now the Fraser Basin Council) and the Land and Resource Management Planning (LRMP) have continued to the time of writing. However, recent assessments of experience with each of these have raised doubts about their abilities to put into practice the innovative principles they espoused, given uncertain government commitments and the huge challenges of implementation (Dorcey, 1997; Duffy et al., 1998). Many of the local and watershed round tables are also still operating, although some have faded away with the declines in government funding and burnout among their stakeholders.


Even though this sketch of events in British Columbia omits other key initiatives relating to citizen involvement in environmental governance (e.g. processes relating to First Nations Treaty negotiations and Water Use Plans), it does illustrate the rise and fall of a second burst of innovations that in varying ways has been experienced in Canada during the nineties. A variety of other innovations across the country further advanced the opportunities and techniques for citizen involvement. These included the introduction of freedom of information legislation, court decisions (e.g. recognizing aboriginal fishing rights), establishment of ombuds offices (including a federal Sustainable Development Commissioner), the provision of mediation options (e.g. in federal project review processes), and the development of the internet. Also notable was the expansion of CI into environmental governance processes relating to international and global issues and agreements (e.g. NAFTA)


As in British Columbia, enthusiasm for the new citizen involvement initiatives waned in the mid nineties as governments at all levels across Canada became doubtful about their worth and concerns about economic issues came to dominate their agendas. One stark illustration of the turn around in views was the Canadian Institute of Planners 1998 award for an article that severely critiqued Vancouver's innovative approaches to citizen involvement in CityPlan, innovations that the Institute had recognized in another award only 3 years before (MacAfee, 1997; Seelig and Seelig, 1998). Drastic budget cuts by the federal and provincial governments have had major impacts on environmental departments and environmental policies have been made less stringent (e.g. in Ontario the department's budget has been cut by more than 40% and staff have been instructed to not enforce some regulations). Local governments have struggled to cope as environmental responsibilities have been shifted to them through federal and provincial government downsizing. At the same time, governments at all levels are commercializing or privatizing activities related to the environment (Charih and Daniels, 1997). Increasingly governments are also looking to non-profit societies and volunteers to take on greater responsibilities for environmental management. Finally, in response to earlier successes with more activist strategies (e.g. Clayoquot Sound) and a growing concern that participation in governmental multistakeholder processes has coopted them, some ENGOs are considering a return to more adversarial and direct action.


Thus in the late nineties, citizen involvement in environmental governance in Canada appears once again to have gone through a period of great innovation followed by second thoughts. Now it seems to be moving towards another major change in its evolution; just how quickly and in what ways cannot be predicted with any certainty.


2.3) Cycles Trending Upwards and Outwards

Two broad trends are evident from this brief sketch of experience with CI. First, the use of CI in environmental governance in Canada has clearly been increasing and diversifying over the last three decades, despite falling away from the two peaks of interest. Secondly, while environment has been a primary focus for expanding CI, other areas of governance, such as community development and social policy, have also been significant, particularly over the last decade when environmental issues have been considered in the more comprehensive context of sustainable development. Overall, there has been a broad trend towards more participatory forms of governance in Canada, which is potentially leading towards transformation of the governance system, as explored more fully in following sections.


Even though it is not easy to separate out the influence of the swings in governmental enthusiasm for environmental policies per se, the longer term trend in CI in environmental governance appears to be upwards as well as outwards into the wider context of ecological, social and economic sustainability. Clearly the second burst of innovation began from a higher base of general acceptance and understanding and quickly moved beyond previously established approaches and techniques, and into broader areas of application. What are some of the key changes and trends that have emerged over the last three decades?


Overall the tools, approaches and strategies that have come to be used today have generally moved CI processes significantly further up Arnstein's Ladder than they were at the end of the first burst of innovation, although they are still only occasionally reaching the upper levels of "delegated power" and "citizen control." There has been a general shift, at least in principle, by governments from Beierle's managerialist perspective to a greater emphasis on the pluralist perspective and citizens have increasingly become interested in his popular perspective. Such a shift could imply a potential transformation in environmental governance is underway but only time and research will tell whether the change is significant. Next we briefly review the literature on recent innovations in CI, in order to better understand this potential.


3) Negotiation-Based CI Innovations In Sustainability Governance

This section briefly examines in more detail the negotiation-based approaches to citizen involvement in sustainability governance because they are central to the CI approaches that emerged in the second burst of innovation. These approaches have received growing attention, both in practice and in an increasingly interdisciplinary literature, as governments and business search for ways to reduce costs and citizens seek empowerment. For the most part, these negotiation-based innovations have their origins in the United States and so we widen our consideration to the North American literature, while continuing to emphasize applications in Canada, in this and the remaining sections of the chapter.


3.1) Negotiation, Facilitation, Mediation and Consensus

By the second half of the 1980s, negotiation-based approaches to citizen involvement were beginning to be used in Canadian environmental governance (Dorcey and Riek, 1987). Various forms of negotiation along with facilitation and mediation were employed. Sometimes, they were proactive elements designed into the stakeholder involvement processes of planning and management initiatives. Other times they were a response to the emergence of conflict (Gray, 1989). Often they were loosely referred to as "environmental mediation" or ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) ( Amy, 1987). In other instances, they were collectively referred to as "consensual approaches" (Susskind and Cruikshank, 1987).


The origins of negotiation-based approaches were in the United States, during the 1960s and 1970s, where there was growing exploration of the potential for applying in new contexts the facilitation and dispute resolution approaches and techniques that had originally been developed in the labour, peace and international relations fields (Kaner et. al., 1996; Moore, 1996). Environmental conflicts were one of the major new areas of attention; others included community disputes, divorce settlements and business disputes.


A key motivation for much of this development in the United States was the search for alternatives to the courts that would be less costly, quicker and more predictable ways to resolve disputes. Often assisted by foundation funding, practitioners and academics developed, tested and promoted new theory and techniques. CI approaches were strongly influenced by the resulting spate of publications includingGetting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Fisher and Ury, 1981); The Art and Science of Negotiation (Raiffa, 1982); The Mediation Process (Moore, 1986); Breaking the Impasse: Consensual Approaches to Resolving Public Disputes (Susskind and Cruikshank, 1987); and Managing Public Disputes (Carpenter and Kennedy, 1988). These books were widely used by those experimenting with negotiations, facilitation and mediation and other forms of third-party assistance in negotiated approaches to consensus building in CI.


Facilitation as a form of third-party assistance has distinctive origins in the United States 1960s protest movements against racial discrimination, poverty, and the Vietnam war (Coover et al., 1985). Subsequently it has become widely used not only in diverse economic, social and environmental protest movements but increasingly in the 1980s and 1990s in all kinds of governmental and business meetings both privately among themselves and publicly with other stakeholders. (Kaner et al, 1996; Schwartz, 1996). Reflecting its origins and current practices, Kaner et al. (1996, p.xi) define a facilitator as "an individual who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy. She or he is a 'content neutral' party who, by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of view during the meeting, can advocate for fair, open and inclusive procedures to accomplish the group's work. A facilitator can also be a learning or dialogue guide to assist a group in thinking deeply about its assumptions, beliefs and values and about its systemic processes and context." Facilitators thus assist with the logistics and conduct of meetings, focusing on the process and communications, and details such as room arrangement, agendas and recording. They are knowledgeable about group dynamics and are skilled in techniques for encouraging active listening, brainstorming new ideas and identifying opportunities for consensus.


While mediators often may use similar techniques as facilitators, their entry into a citizen involvement process is much more likely to be in response to a conflict than a proactive attempt to reach agreement. Moore (1996, p.8 ) defines mediation as "an extension or elaboration of the negotiation process that involves the intervention of an acceptable third-party who has limited or no authoritative decision-making power. This person assists the principal parties in voluntarily reaching a mutually acceptable settlement of the issues in dispute....[it] is usually initiated when the parties no longer believe that they can handle the conflict on their own and when the only means of resolution appears to involve impartial third-party assistance." Mediation is generally distinguished from facilitation in that the third party is more actively involved in assisting and persuading parties to reach formal agreements including the use of private caucuses with the individual parties and carrying messages between them. There is, however, enormous variety among mediators, the principles they espouse and the practices they employ ( Kolb et al., 1994). For example, Susskind believes that effective mediation requires the mediator to have and use substantive knowledge of the issues but other mediators would put much less emphasis on this and some would argue substantive involvement jeopardizes trust in their role. In addition, reflecting the relative newness of the field and particularly applications to newer issues such as environment and sustainability, highly regarded mediators are found to not necessarily practice the principles they espouse (Kolb, 1994).


Although starting more slowly than in the United States, a growing variety of negotiation-based approaches were found by Dorcey and Riek (1987) to be in use by the mid 1980s in Canadian environmental governance. While the vast majority of these were unassisted negotiations, a growing number involved some form of third-party assistants who, depending on the nature and extent of their assistance, were variously labeled "conciliators", "convenors", "facilitators", "fact-finders", "problem-solvers", and "mediators." From a review of 32 published case studies, Dorcey and Riek reached a number of conclusions including:



No comparable overview has been undertaken subsequently but it is clear that use of negotiation-based approaches has expanded enormously in Canada over the last decade, as highlighted in Section 2. While continuing to draw on the US development of theory and principles, Canada has arguably been ahead in experimenting with their practical application in the context of sustainability governance. Negotiation, facilitation and mediation have come to be seen as approaches in their own right, as well as techniques that can be employed within the breadth of approaches to citizen involvement in environmental and sustainability governance from the bottom to the top of Arnstein's ladder (e.g. facilitation of information programs, negotiation of agreements within consultation initiatives, and mediation in the implementation of co-management agreements through committees and boards.)


Growing experience with these approaches and techniques throughout North America over the last decade has resulted in a major increase in awareness of their potential among stakeholders. Many have become practiced in their use. Growth in demand for facilitators and mediators has resulted in the United States in a proliferation of public and private sector training programs. Universities have developed degree programs from the bachelors to the doctoral level as well as research centres. Accompanying this upswing have been the emergence of professional organizations to both advance new principles and practices and address issues of competency and ethical conduct. Particularly notable in the last few years have been the heightened efforts to develop collaborative efforts between the sub-fields. For example two of the most important and relevant organizations in North America, the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR) and the Association of Public Participation Professionals (AP3), have been holding joint sessions at their annual meetings with environment being a particular focus of discussions. Out of all this experience has come a deeper appreciation of the state-of-the-art and best practices for negotiation-based approaches (e.g. Susskind, McKearnan and Thomas-Larmer, 1999). In retrospect, the last decade has been a period of remarkable growth in development, use and convergence on negotiation-based approaches that are transforming citizen involvement in environmental and sustainability governance.


3.2) Co-Management, Civic Engagement and Transformation of Governance

While some CI innovations have been focused on the use of negotiation-based techniques per se, others have focused on new approaches to governance that employ them as central tools. Here we briefly examine two key examples: "co-management" and "civic engagement". We also discuss the increasingly diverse and interdisciplinary literature on transformation of CI in environmental and sustainability governance, of which these are major examples.


Over the last two decades increasing attention has been given to "co-management", which is also variously referred to as "co-operative management", "joint management" or "collaborative management". After reviewing the many different ways in which these terms have come to be used, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (1998) adopted the following definition: "co-management is a system that enables a sharing of decision-making power, responsibility, and risk between governments and stakeholders, including but not limited to resource users, environmental interests, experts and wealth generators." (p.14) Reflecting the growing interest in ways to devolve responsibilities from government and involve stakeholders more directly and fully in environmental and sustainability governance, co-management reaches upwards toward the top rungs of Arnstein's ladder and reflects Beierle's popularist perspective.


Interest in co-management has grown out of the search for more effective, efficient and equitable ways to manage natural resources such as fish, water, forests and agricultural lands (Ostrom, 1990; Bromley, 1992). Theoretical and empirical studies have focused particularly on self-governing associations of local users and their relations with the state. Special attention has been given to the practices of indigenous peoples and their use of traditional knowledge in making decisions. While state or private ownership regimes provide two extreme options, common property ownership and co-management provide an array of joint alternatives for involving the state and citizens. Co-management advocates argue that these options can offer efficiency benefits while avoiding the costs of damage to community and democratic values that so often accompany management under state or private ownership.


After reviewing experience in Canada and abroad, the National Round Table has recommended that co-management should be a central element of sustainability strategies (National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, 1998). Their report demonstrates a convergence of their own and others evolving ideas on CI in sustainability governance. Co-management is described as just one of the types of "partnerships" that have been seen as central to sustainability initiatives. It is also viewed as a way to implement "community-based management" utilizing "multistakeholder processes" and "consensus principles". While they focused on ocean governance, many of their proposals could be extrapolated to other applications such as watersheds and forests and an extensive appendix reviews the growing numbers of examples that can be found.


A second major focus on CI in environmental and sustainability governance has been the diverse literature addressing the role of ENGOs and, more generally, "civil society". Pross (1992) describes the phenomenal proliferation of interest groups including environmental groups over the last thirty years in Canada. Reflecting Beierle's pluralist perspective, he concludes that interest groups are necessary in an era of highly diffused power because the political system depends on them to articulate, implement and monitor the general will. "Pressure groups contribute vitally to the life of policy communities. They perform functions that other institutions cannot perform. They are necessary. At the same time, they create a major problem in democratic representation, threatening to substitute sectoral representation for the geographically based representation upon which our legislative system depends....Pressure groups must therefore be contained and other institutions strengthened." (p. 18)


Analysing the increasing involvement of environmental interest groups in ways that go beyond the traditional role of government-initiated public participation programs, Gardner (1991) distinguishes three roles in relation to government: advocacy, supplemental and transformative. "[Advocacy] encompasses the broad range of activities undertaken by ENGOs to strengthen and expand the accountability of government and industry without restructuring economic or governance systems." (p.326) "The supplemental role refers to the work undertaken by ENGOs to supplement government functions for environmental conservation." (p. 329) "The transformative role encompasses ENGO activities that strive to transform government and society." (p.331) Gardner discusses how a particular ENGO might employ a mix of these roles and associated strategies, how these can evolve over time, and the widely differing views among moderates and radicals about their respective merits and efficacy. She concludes "most observers of the current state of the environmental movement, whether reformist or radicals, agree that the naively apolitical days of earlier phases are past, and that ENGOs are increasingly obliged to enter the political forum" (p.335).


ENGOs are just one part of civil society, whose restored and enhanced engagement in governance, to counterbalance and work with government and business, is seen by an increasing number of writers as crucial to sustainable development. In Beyond Prince and Merchant: Citizen Participation and the Rise of Civil Society, Burbidge (1997) reviews the varied concepts of civil society and the impetus to a groundswell of interest in its revitalization around the world: "In many countries, the driving force is the struggle to attain or preserve basic human rights or the demand of disenfranchised minorities to participate fully in the society...In other countries, the call to empower civil society seems to spring more from a deep cynicism about the role of government, a growing concern about a runaway global economy and the encroaching power of market forces, and the belief that voluntary associations which have been part of the bedrock of society are in decline." (pp.8-9). Participation in voluntary associations, embodying norms of trust, reciprocity, tolerance, and inclusion, and activating networks of public communication, are believed to build and maintain the social capital upon which the vitality of the governance system and sustainable development are dependent. In his most recent book, Barber (1998) clarifies the ideals of "civil society" and differentiates among the often misleading uses of the term, in particular distinguishing the nostalgists who want to recreate old-fashioned (and discriminatory ) small communities from the free-marketeers who associate it with unfettered commercial activity. The phenomenal growth of civic engagement through creation of and participation in associations and networks relating to sustainability issues from the local to the global level is seen as one of the most hopeful signs that the daunting challenges posed by looming environmental, social and economic crises might be met (O'Riordan and Voisey 1998).


The trends in co-management and civic engagement are broadly consistent with themes evident in the rich breadth of theoretical and applied literature relating to CI. For example, the trends reflect the interest among democratic theorists in moving from the predominantly "thin" or representative forms of democracy towards the "strong" or direct forms (Barber, 1984). Associated with this has been increasing interest among a growing number of political theorists over the last decade in forms of "deliberative democracy" or "decision making by discussion among free and equal citizens" (Elster, 1998. p.1). An increasingly strong influence has been Habermas's work, notably his Theory of Communicative Action (1984). Drawing on his ideas and their observations of how planners interact with citizens in practice, planning theorists have begun to articulate a new paradigm of planning ("communicative action") that sees approaches, such as multistakeholder processes, and techniques, such as negotiation and consensus-based decision making, as the central components of a progressive practice that addresses the many inequitable faces of power (Innes, 1995). Theorists and practitioners have challenged conventional ideas with proposals for "transformative approaches" to negotiation, facilitiation and mediation (e.g. Bush and Folger, 1994; Dukes, 1996). "Environmental justice" has been a specific focus (Washington and Strong, 1997), as has "health and environmental risk" (e.g. Leiss and Chociolko, 1994), and the term "civic science" has been coined to describe the use of such approaches and techniques in addressing the complexities and uncertainties that are inherent in ecosystem management (Lee, 1993).


Thirty years later, Arnstein's concerns about disempowerment are still much alive, yet there are potentially mitigating trends in CI evident in the theoretical and applied literatures focusing on negotiation-based approaches and sustainability governance. However, the retreat in Canada in the second half of the 1990s from the vigorous innovations of the first half of the decade raises major questions about political commitment to these innovations, as well as their effectiveness in practice. In the next section, we draw on our own experience to address this latter question before returning to the former in the conclusions.


4) Consensus-Based Approaches: Experience and Reform


This section considers four important approaches to CI, which we term "consensus-based approaches", "structured decision processes," "progressive approaches," and "contingent approaches". It begins by outlining two extremes of CI practice in Canada and the United States. Then it briefly considers consensus-based approaches, in terms of the judgmental and political issues they raise. This is followed by an alternative perspective that we term a "structured decision process" approach to CI. We outline a set of principles that, based on limited experience, appear innovative and relevant for how CI should be conducted. We then briefly review how we might build on this approach by incorporating "progressive approaches" to the intrinsic political and ethical issues and "contingent approaches" to the choice of when to use CI and how. In this section we draw on both the North American literature and our own experience in consensus-based processes from the local to the global level.

4.1) Two Extremes of Current CI Practice

One could characterize much of CI practice in North America by considering two extremes on a continuum of "stakeholder control" of CI activities, which in turn is related to control over the decision making process. One extreme involves group processes, relying on consensus among participants as the decision rule, which can be reasonably viewed as a sub-set of the wider set of negotiation-based processes for CI. One form of this approach, which has wide endorsement, argues that the decision process a particular group should adopt should be designed by the group itself. For example, consider the set of principles developed by the Canada National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (1993) intended to encourage improved decision-making to achieve a sustainable future for Canada (Table 1). The principles call explicitly for "self-design" involving "all parties with a significant interest" as the prescription for improved decision-making.


The other camp, polar opposite from such consensus processes, allows CI only in the form of specific, formally structured value judgments. For example, members of the public may only provide judgments about specific non-market value tradeoffs cast in terms of willingness-to-pay in dollar terms (Mitchell and Carson, 1989). Other aspects of the decision process (such as the range of objectives considered, the nature of the alternatives proposed, and the characterization of the impacts of alternatives) may be influenced by the values of focus groups or media reviews, but are presented in a distilled form based on judgments made by the analyst or project proponent. This extreme approach is standard practice for social benefit/cost analysis based on welfare economics.


In reviewing the writing and practice on CI, readers would find an increasing preponderance of attention and effort devoted toward the "consensus" end of this continuum. For example, the "Understanding Risk" report of the National Research Council (1996) implicitly seems to have adopted consensus as the archetype for CI in its latter chapters. The other extreme of CI has its proponents among economists or policy analysts who are interested in CI only as a means to obtain value judgments that will allow them to impute quantitative values (often in dollars) for non-market goods. Some critics would say that formally structured value judgments do not constitute a meaningful form of CI. They are concerned with the lack of input by citizens regarding problem definition or the nature of the decision process, not to mention the cognitive and ethical difficulties (Kelman, 1981; Gregory, Lichtenstein and Slovic, 1993).


Later in this section, we consider a relatively new generic approach to CI that adopts a middle course between these two extremes. It employs a group process, with substantial responsibility placed on group participants to provide judgments, to assimilate information, and to provide views on the acceptability of alternatives. Yet it also adopts a clear structure for the decision process, requiring both formal and informal benefit/cost comparisons. The general outlines of this structure are established with the assistance of the facilitators, and although participants have the ability to fine-tune, the scope of their role falls well short of a license to continually re-design the process. Before discussing this approach, we turn our attention to considering consensus-based approaches as often practiced.


4.2) Conceptual Aspects of Consensus as a CI Norm

The conceptual appeal of consensus among diverse stakeholders as the basis for complex environmental and sustainability policy choices is easy to understand. The possibility of all participants seeing their interests reflected in the outcome gives hope for overcoming polarization and turning "win-lose" into "win-win" decisions, through creativity and negotiation. All would likely agree that consensus among all affected parties is an egalitarian (though not necessarily democratic) ideal for multi-party decisions. In this ideal, established interests share their power with others concerned with the decision, in order to devise approaches that are more widely acceptable, and protective of minority interests. There is also evidence that the process of conducting consensus-based activities can sometimes lead to new problem formulations, additional information about alternatives, and greater insight about the views of others, even if consensus does not result (National Research Council, 1996). These are all laudable goals and desirable outcomes for CI.


Yet, how is consensus, in self-designed processes, likely to work in practice? What are the possible barriers that may arise in pursuing this egalitarian ideal?


Individual and Group Behavioral Decision Research

Consensus-based decision making, particularly in processes designed by the participants, places heavy reliance on the cognitive abilities of individuals to make wise choices that require compromise about technically complex, emotionally charged issues. How well could we expect the average person to do in such circumstances?


Behavioral decision research with individuals has developed over the last three decades as a major theme in social psychology. These research findings show consistently that, in experiments and real life situations, " . . humans are quite bad at making complex, unaided decisions" (Slovic, Fischhoff, and Lichtenstein, 1977). Individuals naturally respond to complex tasks by using their judgmental instincts to find an easy or adequate way through the problem at hand. They respond to probabilistic information or questions involving uncertainties with predictable biases that often ignore or misprocess important information (Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky, 1982). They seem to have little instinctive ability to clarify objectives (March, 1978), create a wide variety of alternatives (Keeney, 1992), or structure decision tasks (Simon, 1990). When asked to consider value tradeoffs or select among alternatives, they may employ a number of heuristic reasoning processes that are susceptible to a variety of contextual or task-related influences (Payne, Bettman and Johnson, 1992). In short, there are many reasons to expect that, left to their own devices, individuals (either lay or expert) will often not make informed, thoughtful choices about complex issues involving uncertainties and value tradeoffs.


Behavioral research regarding group decision processes is equally discouraging about the unaided ability to make wise choices about complex tasks. In general, groups can (at best) do about as well as the more deliberative or well-informed members would on their own in addressing complex judgment tasks. Groups can have improved performance over individuals because more perspectives may be put forward for consideration, and because the chances of having natural systematic thinkers involved is higher. On the other hand, the performance of unaided groups is susceptible to the tendency to establish entrenched positions, a tendency that makes discussion of compromise difficult. Groups also are subject to adopting a common perspective and ignoring contrary information, a tendency termed "group think" (Janis and Mann, 1977). As a result, a single forceful or cantankerous member can have a dramatic effect on a group's activities.


These findings should not be taken as a blanket condemnation of CI on the grounds of cognitive shortcomings. They relate to unaided efforts at judgment tasks, not to situations in which individuals or groups are aided within structured decision processes. Thus, these findings (intentionally) ignore the crucial role played by those who help the participants structure, understand and grapple with the required decision tasks. Rather, the findings focus attention on the issue of what facilitators do in guiding CI activities, and the tasks and decision processes that are placed before participants.


Legitimacy of Stakeholder Consensus As Governance

Consensus-based CI could be viewed as a new form of governance. In it, established government institutions, such as regulatory agencies, invite affected parties to craft a negotiated settlement to a complex question. The prospect of overcoming disagreement, designing an implementable solution, and taking pressure off elected officials account for its conceptual appeal. How legitimate are such processes as a new form of governance?


One important criterion for legitimacy is representativeness. Within standard governance in Canada, we elect representatives to make policy on our behalf. In consensus processes, we have the ideal of representation of all affected parties; they involve a shift from a managerial to a populist perspective on democratic governance. Yet, those who are most directly affected by a decision, and who will reap concentrated benefits or bear concentrated costs, have a strong incentive to organize a power base and participate in consensus processes, in order to affect the outcome. The broader public, which may bear the largest share of the benefits or costs, but for which these impacts are more diffuse (i.e., lower per capita), has far less incentive to participate (Olson, 1965). Hence, the interests of important but more diffusely affected parties, ranging from the public at large, to future generations, are not directly represented in consensus-based governance unless facilitators take special steps to ensure the sponsors and other participants address this concern.


A second criterion is the nature and legitimacy of rules. It is an open question whether power can ever be legitimately delegated to ad hoc governance processes, within which there is no mechanism for broad social accountability or established rules of procedure. In their traditional governance structures, Canadians have constitutional, institutional, and procedural norms that are sanctioned by legitimate agencies. Some critics are hard pressed to see the merits of new governance structures, particularly when the sponsors of these processes (referring to the organizations that convene them rather than the facilitators that conduct them) do not clearly delineate the specific mandate of the process. Overcoming this problem requires that lines of accountability and responsibility for final decisions be made clear by sponsors and facilitators (e.g., if consensus processes are only advisory to the legitimate regulatory institutions).


A third criterion for legitimacy of governance for science-based issues such as environmental regulation is how technical information is used as a basis for decisions. One can find examples of consensus processes in which technical information has been used in responsible ways, and examples of the opposite situation (National Research Council, 1996). Yet, this comment is equally relevant for standard governance institutions, in that the difficulties posed for elected officials by scientific uncertainty are widely recognized. Dealing with technically complex issues involving uncertainty appears to be an ongoing difficulty for elected and non-elected governance processes, one which leads some writers to argue that facilitators need to be substantively knowledgeable about the issues to be resolved (e.g. Susskind and Cruikshank, 1987).


It is worth noting that all three of these concerns over legitimacy can arise in any CI process. They can be particularly problematic in situations where the sponsors and facilitators of the process are not sensitive to their critical importance, and where legitimacy may be questioned because of the nature of the issue under consideration. In the early days of experimenting with consensus-based processes, when all parties are relatively inexperienced with the implications of such approaches, such problems have commonly arisen.


Status Quo Bias

The best alternative to a negotiated agreement, as seen from the viewpoints of the various parties, is widely recognized as a huge influence on the final outcome of a negotiation process (Fisher and Ury, 1981). The alternative to a negotiated agreement in a consensus process is often the status quo. In such situations, interests favoured by the status quo have a strong incentive to only accept alternatives that are substantially similar to the status quo. Consensus processes (or any form of negotiation) can in such situations be said to have a status quo bias. Hoberg has discussed this issue, with examples involving consensus processes in Canada (Hoberg, ref needed). Other writers, including people from the environmental movement, have made similar points that question the role of consensus because of its status quo bias. Michael McCloskey, former head of the Sierra Club in the United States, has questioned the role of stakeholder processes in locally based land use decisions in the United States, in which the status quo favors resource extraction activities. (McCloskey, 1997). Thus key stakeholders who are only interested in changes that differ significantly from the status quo may choose not to participate in the consensus process and pursue other opportunities such as the courts, lobbying or civil disobedience. A critical role of the facilitator therefore is to ensure that the sponsors and the participants clearly understand the scope of opportunities for agreement under the mandate in the specific situation.


4.3) Structured Decision Processes in Consensus-Based CI


Given the potential cognitive difficulties, uncertain legitimacy and status quo bias of consensus in self-designed processes, it is not surprising that attention has been directed towards approaches that can overcome these obstacles. Below we discuss what we refer to as a "structured decision process" as one of three possible approaches for strengthening consensus-based CI processes. We use the term "decision process " because the intent is to aid the interactions and decisions about recommendations among the CI participants. In addition the CI results are intended to aid actual decisions by the sponsors and other legitimate decision makers. Some observers might say that much of what is outlined below simply comprises good practice that is already evident in many consensus processes. In our experience it is only too seldom the case.



We focus on CI as largely a process of decision-making with groups, particularly when addressing important, controversial environmental issues. The crucial features of this approach are how the process is structured, and what it is deciding.


The views of two eminent decision scientists help clarify what is needed to assist individuals and groups to responsibly address complex environmental risk management questions within CI efforts. James March draws attention to the need for help with identifying and defining goals by observing that ". . . human beings have unstable, inconsistent, incompletely evolved and imprecise goals at least in part because human abilities limit preference orderliness " (March, 1978, p. 598). Herbert Simon emphasizes the need for an effective decision structure and workable tasks: ". . . [h]uman rational behavior is shaped by a scissors whose two blades are the structure of task environments and the computational capabilities of the actor" (Simon, 1990, p. 7). The implication is that efforts to assist citizen involvement processes in making defensible choices should stress methods for clarifying fundamental individual or social objectives and for structuring the decision tasks so they are meaningful, and within the capabilities of those involved. At the same time, the goals and tasks must be useful for making responsible choices in the given decision context.


The decision to be addressed in a CI group decision process will differ from one situation to the next, but can be addressed in general terms. In our view, a major stumbling block in consensus-based CI processes is the expectation that the group should be empowered to "make the decision", when sponsors and facilitators fail to address explicitly the mandate and its limits. Except in those still relatively infrequent occasions when mandates provide for the group to make decisions (e.g., co-management boards), it is essential that stakeholders understand their task as one of making recommendations.


Such recommendations could address the issues outlined below, among others:



One view about how processes could be conducted to provide these recommendations is discussed next.


Concepts for Group Decision Processes

Four concepts are particularly important for group decision processes for complex environmental risk management choices. All involve the pragmatic application of formal decision analytic concepts.


Value-focused thinking. Keeney (1992) describes "value-focused thinking" in simplest terms as "deciding what is important and how to achieve it." Value-focused thinking emphasizes the preeminent role of values in all decision-making. It involves value-structuring approaches drawn from multiattribute utility theory. It uses these judgments to create more attractive alternatives that stand a better chance of wide support, determine the information needed to characterize impacts of alternatives, and, formally or informally, evaluate alternatives.


Adaptive management. Holling (1978), Walters (1986) and others developed "adaptive management" as a means of coping with profound uncertainties in managing complex natural resource systems involving predator-prey relationships such as fisheries. Since then, it has been applied to a wide range of resource management issues as well as strategy design and other management contexts (McDaniels, Healey and Paisley, 1994). In simple terms, adaptive management could be characterized as follows: when faced with profound uncertainties, take a purposeful step forward, monitor the consequences, learn from the results, and avoid costly failures. It sees decision-making as an iterative process, rather than a one-time exercise, and emphasizes the role of learning from successive management choices. While adaptive management could be applied in a formal experimental design (Walters, 1986), it is also helpful as an informal impetus to seek opportunities for learning over time in any iterative decision context.


A structured decision process. The basic steps of decision analysis (Keeney, 1992; von Winterfeldt and Edwards, 1986), which are essentially the steps of any structured planning or decision framework, provide a responsible, informative and complete structure for a decision process. For the purposes of designing CI with groups of stakeholders, these steps can be cast in terms of a series of questions:

  1. What ends (objectives) are important to achieve in selecting a management alternative for the question at hand?
  2. What alternatives can be constructed to achieve these objectives?
  3. What information is needed to characterize the impacts of these alternatives, in terms of measures for the stated objectives?
  4. What tradeoffs arise in selecting among the alternatives?
  5. What alternatives can the participants support?


An "informative" decision rule. The last question (above) raises the issue of the appropriate decision rule for group CI processes that consider environmental risk management policy issues. Perhaps the most common is a consensus rule, in which every participant effectively has a veto over the decisions of the group (and often over every step of the process). A different, perhaps more informative decision rule is to ask participants what alternative(s) each can support. By "informative" we mean a decision rule that fosters learning about the process, the alternatives, and the values of participants (which should be important for CI). Greater insight occurs throughout the process because less time is spent dealing with objections that might occur with a veto-based consensus rule, and as a result every step is more straightforward.


An informative decision rule is akin to approval voting (Brams and Fishburn, 1983) as opposed to unanimous agreement. However, the group does not make its ultimate recommendations based on majority or plurality voting, because typically the number of participants and the groups they represent is not rigorously structured as a legislative body with a representative structure. Instead, the decision rule is simply to report to the elected or appointed decision-makers seeking what alternatives the various stakeholders can support. This approach is in keeping with the role of decision analytic approaches with multiple stakeholders, where utility functions for various groups could be used to inform the decision-maker about preferences of constituents (von Winterfeldt and Edwards, 1986).


The approach can also be greatly enhanced by the facilitator having participants focus on reaching consensus among alternative "packages", as opposed to each individual component of the decision, and using graduated scales of consensus instead of just all or nothing decisions (Kaner et al., 1996). For example a group might agree to the following graduated scale reaching from "I like it" to "I veto this proposal": Endorsement; Agreement with Reservation; Abstain; Stand Aside; Formal Disagreement But Willing to Go with Majority; Formal Disagreement with Request to be Absolved of Responsibility for Implementation; Block. Working with packages and scales of consensus increase the likelihood of the group being able to reach an agreement that can be recommended.


4.4) Progressive Approaches in Consensus-Based CI


A second and potentially complementary way in which decision making may be aided focuses on the issues relating to information and power. Ignoring the political and ethical dimensions of CI will undermine the assistance that might be provided by structured decision making. Drawing on the work of Habermas, Forester (1989) contrasted five different perspectives on information as a source of power: the technician, the incrementalist, the liberal-advocate, the structuralist and the progressive. It is the last, integrating the views of the first four, that is of particular interest as a possible second approach for strengthening CI in consensus-based processes. While Forester was focusing on planners, his ideas for progressive practice can be applied to any sponsor of CI.

[T]he progressive approaches information as a source of power because it can enable the participation of citizens and avoid the legitimizing functions of which the structuralist warns. The planner's information can also call attention to the structural, organizational, and political barriers that needlessly distort the information that citizens rely on to act. The progressive perspective thus combines the insights of the liberal and structuralist views and goes one step further. It recognizes that political-economic power may function systematically to misinform affected publics, by misrepresenting risk or costs and benefits, for instance. The progressive view anticipates such regular, structurally rooted, misinformation and organizes information to counteract this "noise". (p.69)


Forester argues that misinformation can effect action by shaping citizen's comprehension, trust, consent and beliefs (p.36). The role of the progressive practitioner is therefore to anticipate and counteract this possibility. Such a role does not require

... any new progressive social technology or political gimmickry. Planners already have a vast repertoire of practical responses with which they can counteract mis-information: commonplace acts of checking, double-checking, testing, consulting experts, seeking third-party counsel, clarifying issues, exposing assumptions, reviewing and citing the record, appealing to precedent, invoking traditional values (democratic participation, for example), spreading questions about unexplored possibilities, spotlighting jargon and revealing meaning, negotiating for clearly specified outcomes and values, working through informal networks to get information, bargaining for information, holding others to public commitment, and so on. (p.40)


Forester and other communicative planning theorists (e.g., Innes, 1995; Innes and Booher, 1999) who have built on his ideas have seen the facilitator in CI as having a crucial role in determining how progressive processes will be. To the extent that facilitators are committed to a progressive ethics of practice, they can aid the decision making process in anticipating and counteracting both the systematic and ad hoc sources of distortion and inequity. If sponsors and participants are not committed to comparable standards of progressive practice, the task of the facilitator is more challenging but not impossible. Progressive practice thus has the potential to extend and complement the trend towards structured decision making by explicitly recognizing and addressing the political and ethical issues that suffuse CI.


4.5) Contingent Approaches To Consensus-Based CI

A third and again potentially complementary way in which decision making may be aided is by selecting and designing CI approaches and techniques so that they best fit the context and goals of the sponsor. Relatively little explicit attention had been given to addressing these critical choices until recently, when Thomas (1995) proposed his "Effective Decision Model of Public Involvement". His model is an attempt to balance the "pure enthusiasm of the proponents of public involvement" and " the skepticism of the critics" by taking a contingent perspective on choice of CI approaches and techniques. Thomas argues

The desirability of public involvement depends primarily on the relative need for quality versus the need for acceptability in an eventual decision. Some public issues embody greater needs for quality, that is, for consistency with professional standards, legislative mandates, budgetary constraints and the like. Other issues carry greater needs for acceptability, for public acceptance of or compliance with any decision. Where the needs for quality are greater, there is less need to involve the public. Where, on the other hand, the needs for acceptability are greater, the need to involve the public and to share decision-making authority will be greater. Where both needs are substantial, there will be competing needs for public involvement and for constraints on the involvement. (p. 36)

The model is based on research by Vroom and Yetton (1973) and Vroom and Jago (1988) who addressed the question of when and how managers should involve subordinates in making decisions. Thomas argues that, while the model requires adaptations to recognize the special nature of public sector and public involvement issues (e.g. greater difficulty in defining the relevant public), such decisions involve comparable questions of quality and acceptability as CI. The model's predictive power was tested by Thomas through re-analysis of 40 governmental decisions made with varying degrees of public involvement. Consistency with the model's recommendations proved the best predictor of the effectiveness of those decisions.


Using the term "manager" for the sponsor of the CI, Thomas differentiates five basic choices:


To make an appropriate choice among the five approaches, Thomas argues that the manager must ask a series of seven questions about the characteristics of the context and the goals of the process:

The decision tree in Figure 2 demonstrates the CI choices that the sponsor should make depending on the answers to the seven questions. Depending on the answers to the first four questions, the sponsor may decide to make a managerial decision or go on to consider involving stakeholders in a consultation or public decision. Depending on the specifics, the consultation or public decision would selectively utilize potential approaches and techniques. For example, the model indicates that sponsors should use a unitary consultation first for any situation that features (a) a need for information, (b) no problem structure, (c) a need for acceptance that requires involvement, and (d) public disagreement with the sponsor's goals. "The latitude for public influence is so great in a situation in which information is needed and the problem is unstructured that a unitary consultation is recommended despite the public's disagreement with the [sponsoring] agency's goals. Using a unitary consultation, a manager can decide in a manner that reflects both public input and agency priorities." (p.80) Such consultation could be assisted by the use of progressive facilitators and structured decision making approaches in negotiation and consensus-based approaches as described in previous sections.


Those who generally believe that there is a need for more CI in environmental governance are often uncomfortable with Thomas's model because of its potential recommendations for no or limited CI. It is not easy for them to accept that from the sponsor's perspective there are situations where the costs exceed the benefits of any or more extensive CI. On the other hand they should be reassured by Thomas's conclusion from his reanalysis that in 91% of the cases examined the model indicated the need for public involvement in which influence is shared with the public. (p.75)


5) Evaluation of CI

As indicated at the beginning of this chapter, evaluation of CI is very difficult and an infant art that has only infrequently been applied and then usually with partial or limited results. This is illustrated in various ways by four recent assessment attempts, each of which represents different types of approaches to CI evaluation with associated combinations of theoretical and empirical strengths and weaknesses. Renn, Webler and Weidmann (1995) made an ambitious attempt to evaluate approaches to CI based on the underlying principles of "critical theory", particularly the work of Jurgen Habermas. Starting with primary goals of "fairness" and "competence", they developed a set of evaluative questions which were applied by contributing authors to eight different "models" of CI, each of which involves elements of negotiation-based approaches (Citizen Advisory Committees; Citizen Panels or Planning Cells; Citizen Juries; Citizen Initiatives; Negotiated Rule Making; Mediation; Compensation and Benefit Sharing for Facility Siting; and Dutch Study Groups). The major overall conclusion was that no single "model" of CI, as defined in the study, is clearly preferable over another in terms of their broadly defined objectives of fairness and competence. Rather, their assessments emphasize the importance of practice-oriented issues (how any of these approaches is implemented), and the need to consider approaches in light of the characteristics of the problem at hand. However, while the strength of this work lies in its attempt to be explicit about the normative and theoretical framework and specific goals and objectives upon which the evaluation is based, the editors are refreshingly candid about the unforeseen difficulties that were encountered when proponents and reviewers of each of the models applied the evaluative questions and found it exceedingly difficult to resolve differences among their subjective judgements.


More recently Chess and Purcell (In Press) attempted to synthesize the findings of existing evaluation studies of CI involving public meetings, workshops, and community advisory committees. While the authors recognized the need for objectives, they did not present their own explicit objectives to serve as the basis for the analysis. In their view, "developing a definition [of success] is problematic because of the limited theory and the diversity of perspectives about the goals of public participation". Instead, they relied on the various implicit or explicit objectives adopted by the authors of the reviewed studies. They did distinguish between process and outcome criteria and concluded that "...the forms of participation do not determine process or outcome success", and that "participants' satisfaction with participatory processes is clearly not associated with satisfaction with an outcome." In response to the difficulties they encountered in synthesizing results, they argued that criteria for evaluating CI efforts need greater attention, and should be drawn from stakeholders and agencies involved in the effort, as well as universal criteria based on theory. Finally, they observed that actions of agencies can have a major influence on outcome and process success, and that there is some supportive evidence for what they referred to as "practitioner rules of thumb" regarding "what works" in process design.


A third type of approach is illustrated by Yosie and Herbst's (1998) study involving interviews with several key informants knowledgeable about the practice of CI in the United States, as well as in-depth assessments of the structure and outcomes of several CI case studies. Their overall goal was to identify "lessons learned, key issues and future challenges". It is notable that this evaluation did not proceed by developing an explicit set of objectives for CI, nor does it explicitly acknowledge the range of CI approaches and techniques that could be employed in various circumstances. Although broad generalizations, their key findings reiterate those found in various assessments:



Finally, a recent study evaluating public participation in Land and Resource Management Planning (LRMP) in British Columbia illustrates a fourth type of approach, one that is focused on a specific CI program and in a Canadian context (Duffy et al., 1998). It began with an extensive literature review to identify evaluation criteria appropriate to evaluating the 18 consensus-seeking, multistakeholder planning processes initiated at the sub-regional scale under LRMP. Two sets of criteria were defined. The first set included 10 criteria focused on the evaluation of the planning process and relating to support for the process, representation, resources, and process design. Their detailing reflected commonly recommended best practice principles and procedures emerging in the recent literature on negotiation-based CI approaches, such as the Round Tables (Table 1) and others referenced in Section 3. The second set innovatively focused on CI outcomes for "community capacity" defined as "the ability of residents in the planning area to maintain and build meaningful involvement in the ongoing planning and management of public lands" (p. 10). Four criteria relating to information, resources and skills, structures and attitudes were defined respectively for participants, organizations and government agencies involved in the CI process. These drew more specifically on the literature relating to negotiation-based decision making, community development, community health planning, community psychology, organizational development, and planning and political theory.


Data was collected by telephone surveys of participants in 13 of the LRMPs, using questions based on the criteria. Results were summarized in terms of perceived strengths, weaknesses, challenges, lessons and advice. Using these results, questions were designed for more detailed studies of three cases, one of which focused on capacity building outcomes. The interviews generated an exceptionally rich qualitative assessment of the participants' evaluations with detailed insights into performance according to the wide array of indicators. A notable strength of this approach to evaluation is the extent to which it reveals whether the principles and procedures of CI established at the outset of a program were actually followed and achieved in practice as perceived by participants. This study once again indicates the immense difficulties encountered in putting what are thought to be "best practices" of CI into practice. The reasons are numerous, include both intentional and unintentional actions by the participants, and relate to not only the CI processes themselves but also the specific issues being addressed and the particulars of the governance and political context within which they take place. The notable weakness of this approach follows from its strength in that generalizations about the merits of CI approaches are difficult. As evident in this study, conclusions and recommendations tend to focus predictably on what needs to be done to faithfully implement the "best practices" espoused at the outset rather than questioning whether they are the "best practices" and how they can be made "better".


Despite the weaknesses in evaluation of CI as it has been practiced to date, there is much that is known about what constitute "best practices" in the use of the tools and their appropriateness to particular environmental issues, and how choices about these are influenced by the different normative perspectives on the governance system that is desired. Susskind et al.'s (1999) 1150-page Consensus Building Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the state-of-the-art, demonstrating the breadth of agreement about "best practices" while highlighting where significant differences in views persist. This understanding can be utilized in adopting an adaptive strategy to accelerate the development of knowledge about "best practices" for CI by building on insights into the strengths and remedying the weaknesses in evaluation methods.


6) Future Trends in CI Policies and Research

Three decades of experience with CI in Canada and elsewhere have yielded one incontrovertible conclusion: It is not easy. Some would say CI is the worst part of environmental governance. Yet, most would agree that environmental governance without CI is not an alternative that will be seriously considered in the future. In our view the general trend towards increasing and diversifying CI in environmental governance, in particular the use of negotiation-based approaches, will continue. Further, despite the weaknesses in the evaluation literature, we believe there is much to learn from the experience over the last three decades that can guide improved CI policy and research. In this concluding section we highlight key components of a trend towards a contingent and adaptive strategy for CI policy. This means a strategy that applies the emerging understanding of CI approaches that are appropriate to specific goals and contexts. It also means adopting best practices in employing techniques, while incorporating explicit procedures for learning, assessment and experimentation. We present these as trends that we perceive emerging in Canada today and carrying us into the first decade of the new millenium.


Trends in the Environmental Governance Context for CI

Overall the shift from managerialist towards more pluralist and popularist philosophies and forms of governance will continue. The longer term trend towards downsizing of governments and devolving responsibilities to local governments will also continue and this will be accompanied by increasing reliance on business and civil society in governance. These are continuing and more fundamental trends in governance that are to substantial extent independent of the cycles of concern for specific issues such as environment and sustainability. Before too long, in response to the rebuilding concerns about threats to the environment, there will be a third burst of enthusiasm for environmental initiatives and associated innovations in CI. Once again, the innovations in CI will take off from a base of ongoing practice that is considerably more extensive, intensive and diverse than it was at the beginning of the previous wave. In all likelihood this third burst of innovation will take the principles and practices of CI into new territories for negotiation-based approaches before the wave once again breaks under the twin pressures of increasing questioning of the overly ambitious experiments and the resurfacing of greater priorities than environmental issues. The extent and durability of innovation in the next wave depends importantly on the other trends that are emerging.


Trends Towards Contingent Approaches

If the first burst of innovation was largely about gaining acceptance for using CI at all and the second burst was focused on diversifying and extending its utilization, in particular through negotiation-based methods, then the third burst will be about contingent approaches. There has been growing recognition of the critical need to select and customize CI approaches and techniques to the particular situations to which they are being applied. Increasing understanding of the costs and benefits of different approaches and techniques of CI is making it possible to better judge when CI is merited and, if it is, which combination of approaches and techniques are most appropriate to each part of the process. Progress in the next wave of innovations will be hugely dependent on the extent to which contingent approaches are implemented based on this growing understanding.


Trends in Best Practices

Despite the enormous challenges inherent in assessing experience with CI approaches and techniques, there is clearly a trend towards a substantial and growing core of agreement about many of the key considerations in selecting, designing and implementing what is needed in a particular situation. It is significant that much of what practitioners have developed over the years through long and extensive experience as rules-of-thumb is now being found to be consistent with a growing body of literature based on more explicit theorizing and experimentation. In particular there is a good understanding of the key questions that should be addressed by sponsors of CI and the critical role that they need to play in the process. Likewise the pivotal importance of the facilitators' role and the principles and practices that they should employ are increasingly well understood. Among the newly emerging ideas on best practices there is some convergence around the middle ground potentials of progressive and structured decision making within negotiation-based processes. The productivity of the innovations in the next wave will depend greatly on the sponsors' and facilitators' skills in bringing to bear the established and newly emerging best practices


Trends Towards Adaptive Strategies

While much can be learned from past experiences, there remain enormous uncertainties surrounding CI approaches and techniques, which are driving a nascent trend towards more learning-oriented and adaptive strategies. Recognizing the relatively untried nature of many newer approaches, such as those utilizing consensus, CI programs are increasingly incorporating assessment procedures to learn from experience. Not only are these done to adapt future programs but also ongoing assessments are built into the CI process so that changes can be made real time. Accompanying this there is increasing attention being given to observing what it is that the "successful" practitioners do. Beyond this, it can be anticipated that research and assessment will be extended to include the revolutionary opportunities for CI approaches and techniques that are being created by the development of information technologies and the WWW. Clearly, progress and the longevity of the next wave of CI innovations will be critically effected by the ability to test the emerging new hypotheses and apply the results in further innovations incorporating further rounds of experimentation. Fundamental to success will be the utilization of evaluation frameworks that give explicit consideration to (i) the hierarchy of CI goals and objectives, ranging from the ideology adopted to the tools employed, and how these vary among the differing viewpoints of sponsors, participants and society; (ii) the specifics of the environmental and sustainability issues to be addressed; and (iii) the structure and politics of the governance context within which CI takes place.


Reasonable Expectations, Better Results

Whether the trends we have suggested materialize depend on a multitude of factors and a wide variety of scenarios are possible. However, from the first two waves of innovation we are confident in suggesting two major lessons. First, the genesis and path of the next wave will be powerfully influenced by the unpredictable vagaries of public opinion, politics and environmental events. Based on experience to date we would do well to have more reasonable expectations of CI next time. Second, substantial progress in the art and science of CI will continue to be made as sponsors, facilitators and participants become more skilled and practiced in applying and advancing best practices. Better results can be reasonably expected.



This paper was funded as part of the SSHRC/PRC Environment Trends Project. Most valuable comments on an earlier draft were provided by Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Edward Parsons and participants in the workshop at Green College, University of British Columbia, April 23-24, 1999.



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