Public participation in local government: A case study of regional sustainability monitoring in Western Sydney’

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Sustainability is an important process and objective of society. State of the Environment Reporting at both the local and regional level is an important part of monitoring the wider sustainability project. Legislation and practice emphasises public participation in the context of sustainability monitoring and reporting. The sustainability project has been less than successful in two crucial ways that form a nexus at the local level. First, the effects of sustainability practice at this level have not been sufficiently successful, and second, practitioners have refined the techniques of public participation but, often, with little impact on final decisions. The gap between theory and effective practice seems wide and this paper explores some of that territory. This paper examines a specific case study of this situation in two ways. First, in the context of the development of an alternative model in the preparation of the Western Sydney Regional State of the Environment Report 2000, and second, and importantly, an exploration of the Report’s problematic aftermath. Proposals in this paper to help councils in their path towards sustainability include the deeper participation of the public in the sustainability
project within a local council framework and the inclusion of community developed indicators of sustainability in the management plans of councils. An implication of the study amounts to a plea for those in positions of power to share some of that power with others in an attempt to form a community for joint action.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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