Community participation in sustainable transition decision-making
Transitions away from fossil fuel are, unfortunately, very rare, which means it has been difficult to find case studies of where the community has participated in sustainable transition processes. In order to draw upon the knowledge of others in determining a framework for participation in transitions (one subject of my PhD) it has been necessary to cast the net more widely. In reviewing the literature I have therefore looked at environmental decision-making in general, with a focus on Australian case studies. This is because context is important, especially when needing to understand the legislative environment in which transition decisions will be made.
I have written up a summary of 49 papers that represent a range of topics from the siting of wind farms and mines, to energy transitions, and natural resource management (references listed below). In all cases, decisions needed to be made and the community was engaged to varying degrees to participate in making these decisions. The review also draws upon key transition, policy, and governance scholarship.
I won’t be posting the summary publicly for the time being as I am still unclear about future publishing and copyright. For now I have created a rough summary in diagram form of the key points. This is still very much in draft and I will refine as the PhD proceeds.
Principles for community participation in sustainable transitions (draft)
STARTING: Setting up for success
- Engage early
- Open problem setting to a wide audience
- Be honest about intent
- Recruit for diversity
LEARNING: Collaboratively building knowledge and an evidence base for change
- Facilitate knowledge sharing
- Build domain literacy
- Make information accessible
- Respect and use local knowledge
ENGAGING: Proceeding with equitable and accessible participation
- Offer multiple ways to take part
- Use local and experienced facilitators
- Encourage collaboration
- Embed engagement in operations (rather than as a stand-alone unit)
BUILDING: Enabling participation for the long-term
- Design for ongoing participation (including ends)
- Be honest about influence
- Share evaluations publicly
- Design for short- and the long-term engagement
Anderson, C., Passey, R., de Valck, J., & Shah, R. (2019). Towards Zero Emissions Noosa. Sustainability (Switzerland), 11(17). https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174679
Beer, A. (2018). The closure of the Australian car manufacturing industry: redundancy, policy and community impacts. Australian Geographer, 49(3), 419–438. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049182.2017.1402452
Beer, A., Weller, S., Barnes, T., Onur, I., Ratcliffe, J., Bailey, D., & Sotarauta, M. (2019). The urban and regional impacts of plant closures: new methods and perspectives. Regional Studies, Regional Science, 6(1), 380–394. https://doi.org/10.1080/21681376.2019.1622440
Bohnet, I. C. (2015). Lessons Learned from Public Participation in Water Quality Improvement Planning: A Study from Australia. Society and Natural Resources, 28(2), 180–196. https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2014.941446
Brown, G., & Raymond, C. M. (2014). Methods for identifying land use conflict potential using participatory mapping. Landscape and Urban Planning, 122, 196–208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2013.11.007
Browne-Yung, K., Ziersch, A., Baum, F., Friel, S., & Spoehr, J. (2020). General Motor Holden’s closure in Playford, South Australia: Analysis of the policy response and its implications for health. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 79(1), 76–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8500.12390
Browne–Yung, K., Ziersch, A., Friel, S., Freeman, T., & Baum, F. (2021). Deindustrialising economies, plant closures and affected communities: Identifying potential pathways to health inequities. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.564
Buchy, M., & Race, D. (2001). The twists and turns of community participation in natural resource management in Australia: What is missing? Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 44(3), 293–308. https://doi.org/10.1080/09640560120046070
Clark, C., & Woronov, T. E. (2016). The politics of public interest environmental litigation: lawfare in Australia. Australian Environment Review, 31(7), 258–262.
Coles, A., Fairbrother, P., Jovanovski, N., Macdonald, F., Prokopiv, V., Dominik, M., Ms, S., Scott, H., & Williams, K. (2017). Doing things differently: A strategy for the Gippsland region.
Colvin, R. M., Witt, G. B., & Lacey, J. (2018). Using a community vote for wind energy development decision-making in King Island, Tasmania. Case Studies in the Environment, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2017.000927
Costello, D. (2011). Incorporating community governance: Planning sustainable energy security. International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, 7(4), 349–365. https://doi.org/10.18848/1832-2077/cgp/v07i04/54960
Coy, D., Malekpour, S., & Saeri, A. K. (2022). From little things, big things grow: Facilitating community empowerment in the energy transformation. Energy Research and Social Science, 84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2021.102353
Curtis, A., Ross, H., Marshall, G. R., Baldwin, C., Cavaye, J., Freeman, C., Carr, A., & Syme, G. J. (2014). The great experiment with devolved NRM governance: Lessons from community engagement in Australia and New Zealand since the 1980s. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 21(2), 175–199. https://doi.org/10.1080/14486563.2014.935747
Darbas, T., Williams, R., & Graham, S. (2011). Green-changing: A research-based collaboration with a tree-changed rural community. Rural Society, 256–265.
Della Bosca, H., & Gillespie, J. (2019). The construction of ‘local’ interest in New South Wales environmental planning processes. Australian Geographer, 50(1), 49–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049182.2018.1469180
Evans, G., & Phelan, L. (2016). Transition to a post-carbon society: Linking environmental justice and just transition discourses. Energy Policy.
Everingham, J. A., Rolfe, J., Lechner, A. M., Kinnear, S., & Akbar, D. (2018). A proposal for engaging a stakeholder panel in planning post-mining land uses in Australia’s coal-rich tropical savannahs. Land Use Policy, 79, 397–406. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.08.038
Everingham, J.-A., Mackenzie, S., Svobodova, K., & Witt, K. (2020). Participatory processes, mine closure and social transitions. Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining. University of Queensland.
Forino, G., von Meding, J., Brewer, G., & van Niekerk, D. (2017). Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk reduction integration: Strategies, Policies, and Plans in three Australian Local Governments. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 24, 100–108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2017.05.021
Galende-Sánchez, E., & Sorman, A. H. (2021). From consultation toward co-production in science and policy: A critical systematic review of participatory climate and energy initiatives. Energy Research and Social Science, 73. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101907
Hall, N. L., Hicks, J., Lane, T., & Wood, E. (2020). Planning to engage the community on renewables: insights from community engagement plans of the Australian wind industry. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 27(2), 123–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/14486563.2019.1670742
Head, B. W. (2011). Australian experience: Civic engagement as symbol and substance. Public Administration and Development, 31(2), 102–112. https://doi.org/10.1002/pad.599
Hill, D., & Connelly, S. (2018). Community energies: Exploring the socio-political spatiality of energy transitions through the Clean Energy for Eternity campaign in New South Wales Australia. Energy Research and Social Science, 36, 138–145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.11.021
Hindmarsh, R., & Alidoust, S. (2019). Rethinking Australian CSG transitions in participatory contexts of local social conflict, community engagement, and shifts towards cleaner energy. Energy Policy, 132, 272–282. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2019.05.035
Howard, T. M. (2018). Balancing the see-saw of natural resource governance: the interaction of legislation, policy and practice in four Australian participatory processes. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 25(2), 174–192. https://doi.org/10.1080/14486563.2017.1420500
Hügel, S., & Davies, A. R. (2020). Public participation, engagement, and climate change adaptation: A review of the research literature. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 11(4). https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.645
Ivanova, G., Rolfe, J., Lockie, S., & Timmer, V. (2007). Assessing social and economic impacts associated with changes in the coal mining industry in the Bowen Basin, Queensland, Australia. Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, 18(2), 211–228. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777830710725867
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Lewer, J. (2013). Employee involvement and participation under extreme conditions: The Newcastle steelworks case. Journal of Industrial Relations, 55(4), 640–656. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022185613489438
Lindsay, J., Rogers, B. C., Church, E., Gunn, A., Hammer, K., Dean, A. J., & Fielding, K. (2019). The role of community champions in long-term sustainable urban water planning. Water (Switzerland), 11(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030476
Lockie, S., Franetovich, M., Sharma, S., & Rolfe, J. (2008). Democratisation versus engagement? Social and economic impact assessment and community participation in the coal mining industry of the Bowen Basin, Australia. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 26(3), 177–187. https://doi.org/10.3152/146155108X357257
MacNeil, R., & Beauman, M. (2022). Understanding resistance to just transition ideas in Australian coal communities. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 43, 118–126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2022.03.007
Meiklejohn, D., Moloney, S., & Bekessy, S. (2021). Applying a practice lens to local government climate change governance: rethinking community engagement practices. Sustainability (Switzerland), 13(2), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020995
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Weller, S. A. (2017). The geographical political economy of regional transformation in the Latrobe Valley. Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 23(3).
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