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Research project funded by the European Community under the 5th framework programme (Contract n o HPSE-CT-1999-00028) (GOVERN PARTICIPATORY) Achieving Sustainable and Innovative Policies through Participatory Governance in a Multi-level Context Final Report Presented by: Darmstadt University of Technology Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Technology/ Institute for Political Science Hubert Heinelt (coordinator) European University Institute, Florence Department for Political Science and Sociology Philippe C. Schmitter (leader of the Florence team) University of Bristol School for Policy Studies, Centre for Urban Studies Randall Smith (leader of the Bristol team) Oxford University School for Geography and the Environment Erik Swyngedouw (leader of the Oxford team) Panteion University of Athens Institute for Urban Environment and Human Resources Panagiotis Getimis (leader of the Athens team) Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Development, Spatial Development Research Unit, Grigoris Kafkalas (leader of the Thessaloniki team)

Achieving Sustainable and Innovative Policies through Participatory Governance Final Report

Dec 31, 2022



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Page 1: Achieving Sustainable and Innovative Policies through Participatory Governance Final Report

Research project funded by the European Community under the 5th framework programme (Contract no HPSE-CT-1999-00028)


Achieving Sustainable and Innovative Policies through Participatory Governance in a Multi-level Context

Final Report Presented by:

Darmstadt University of Technology Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Technology/ Institute for Political Science Hubert Heinelt (coordinator)

European University Institute, Florence Department for Political Science and Sociology Philippe C. Schmitter (leader of the Florence team)

University of Bristol School for Policy Studies, Centre for Urban Studies Randall Smith (leader of the Bristol team)

Oxford University School for Geography and the Environment Erik Swyngedouw (leader of the Oxford team)

Panteion University of Athens Institute for Urban Environment and Human Resources Panagiotis Getimis (leader of the Athens team)

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Development, Spatial Development Research Unit, Grigoris Kafkalas (leader of the Thessaloniki team)

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1. INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................................................5

1.1 THE PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT .........................................................................................................5 1.2 THE RELEVANCE OF EMAS AND WATER SUPPLY .............................................................................6 1.2 OUTLINE OF THE REPORT .................................................................................................................7

2. SUSTAINABILITY, INNOVATION AND PARTICIPATION: OPERATIONALISATION OF THE CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK ...............................................................................................................8

2.1 THE THEORETICAL DEBATE .............................................................................................................8 2.2 SUSTAINABILITY..............................................................................................................................9

2.2.1 Reflections on Sustainability .......................................................................................................9 2.2.2 The Empirical Cases - EMAS and Water Supply........................................................................10

2.3 SUSTAINABILITY CUM INNOVATION ................................................................................................ 12 2.3.1. Types of Innovation and the example of EMAS..........................................................................12 2.3.2 EMAS and Water Supply - Critical Features .............................................................................13

2.4 PARTICIPATION..............................................................................................................................14 2.4.1 Participatory Governance: An Overview...................................................................................14 2.4.2 Participation – and Governing EMAS.......................................................................................20 2.4.3 Participation – and Governing Water Supply ............................................................................23

3. EMAS – A PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE EXPERIMENT OF SELF-REGULATION AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ...................................................................................................................27

3.1 EMAS: PARTICIPATION, INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY...........................................................27 3.2 THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMAS ON THE EUROPEAN LEVEL ...............................................................33 3.3 NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION: GREAT BRITAIN, GREECE, GERMANY ...............................................35 3.4 CONCLUDING REMARKS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS.......................................................................37


4.1 EMBLEMATIC WATERS ..................................................................................................................40 4.2 THE SHIFTING POLITICAL-ECONOMY OF WATER .............................................................................40 4.3 WATER GOVERNANCE AND THE RE-SCALING OF THE POWER OF WATER INSTITUTIONS ....................43 4.4 THE INTERNATIONALISATION OF WATER GOVERNANCE ..................................................................45 4.5 POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS AND TRENDS IN THE CONTEXT OF PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE .......47

5. CONCLUDING REMARKS ....................................................................................................................51

5.1 SOME CRUCIAL FINDINGS ..............................................................................................................51 5.2 OPPORTUNITIES AND RISKS OF PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE ........................................................52

6. FURTHER PUBLICATIONS ARISING FROM THE PROJECT .........................................................55

ANNEXES TO THE MAIN REPORT (TO OBTAIN A COPY WRITE TO: ANGELA.LIBERATORE@CEC.EU) ...................55 BOOKS (COPIES CAN BE PURCHASED BY WRITING TO PUBLISHER LESKE & BURDICH: OPLADEN/GERMANY: LESBUDPUBL@AOL.COM) ............................................................................................................................55

7. REFERENCES .........................................................................................................................................56

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1. Introduction

1.1 The Purpose of the Project

The main assumption of the research project “Achieving sustainable and innovative policies through

participatory governance in a multi-level context” is that under certain circumstances participatory decision-

making leads to a higher degree of sustainable and innovative outcomes. Thus, the identification of these

conditions becomes the central purpose of the project linking together its theoretical and empirical aspects.

The theoretical basis for such an assumption and its further conceptual elaboration were discussed with invited

academic experts at two conferences – one held in Florence in September 2000 and the other held in Athens in

October 2001.1 The papers addressed key issues of the current debate on governance, and one of the core

questions had been: What does the shift from “government to governance” imply in respect to participation? If

one is trying to design an arrangement for participatory governance, one has to provide convincing answers to

two questions: (1) who should participate and, (2) how should they participate? This is not that simple –

especially since the rules that are most likely to facilitate the mechanics of governance may not be the ones that

are the most likely to conform to democratic principles. Is the traditional idea of citizenship appropriate for

legitimising participation in governance arrangements – or do we have to go beyond such traditional notions?

Philippe Schmitter (as one of the project partners) offers an answer to this question with his “holder” concept,

where “holders” are individual or collective actors who possess specific qualities or resources that entitle them to

participate or which require that they should participate.2 But holder involvement does not lead per se to

participatory governance, let alone sustainable and innovative outcomes. Therefore, specific (governance)

arrangements have to be considered.

This was done by the project through empirical analysis. We tried to identify opportunities for participatory

governance which support a shift towards sustainable and innovative policy developments – not at least in order

to identify opportunities for EU intervention to promote these developments by setting up specific governance

arrangements institutionally through EU legislation.

We therefore identified different governance mixtures in Germany, Greece and the UK, which reflected

organisationally determined as well as socially and culturally embedded particular arrangements, from where

policy change has to start. Furthermore, we took account of different territorial levels of government/governance

within which these arrangements were moulded by the political process. In other words: We combined case

studies at the site, local or regional level with analysis of EU level decisions on legislation and its

implementation at the national level, because we want to see how “higher” level decisions as well as differing

national institutional settings are affecting particularly governance arrangements at the “operational level”

1 The papers from the first conference are already published (see Grote/Gbikpi 2002), while those from the second conference, which will also be published, are attached.

2 Potentials as well as possible conceptual and theoretical shortcomings of the holder concept will be addressed in chapter 2. Furthermore, in chapter 2 an overview about the impacts of the other papers presented at the two mentioned conferences on the project will be given.

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(Kiser/Ostrom, 1983), and consequently affecting available options for participation which can lead to higher

degrees of sustainability and innovation.3

1.2 The Relevance of EMAS and Water Supply

The empirical work of the project covered two different policy areas: (a) water supply and (b) enterprise oriented

environmental management systems, specifically the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). The

differences between these two policy areas can be seen mainly in the forms of participation, which are linked to

particular characteristics of the structure of policy networks.

Water supply, on the one hand, is an issue that potentially concerns everyone. This implies an open network

structure with unclear boundaries. Apart from a relatively clearly defined set of actors officially responsible for

water supply, the spectrum of holders can be widened depending on the perception, articulation and organisation

of interests. But the way interested parties are actually involved in “governing” a water supply system depends

on the political options that enable them to participate.

EMAS, on the other hand, suggests a closed network structure, because, by its nature as a management tool in

organisations, it involves only a defined set of actors and a clear boundary at the level of the organisation. So

participation is inherently restricted.

The two types of case studies are also indicative of different types of governance, different modes of interest

intermediation and different types of actors.

Water supply is a good example of what can be called “modern governance”. Water and the management of the terrestrial part of its circulation presents a seminal example of how ecological, physical, social, and political processes can fuse together in the modes of organising, regulating, controlling, and/or accessing resources. In this case it is the trend towards marketisation and corresponding re-regulations of arrangements for governing a common resource, which are of a particular interest. The character of the water business is such that in order to create competition it is necessary to institutionalise regulation. So, liberalisation is also associated with the establishment of new institutions and the emergence of new actors. In particular, the case study explores the extent to which changes in the governability of water at local, national, and EU levels (and the articulation between these scales) expressed a shift from state-led and state-controlled forms of water-government (command-and-control systems) to a new institutional form of water governance beyond the state and towards a certain kind of privatisation.

On the other hand, EMAS is intended to foster environmental self regulation by companies (and also public

authorities) which are controlled indirectly by the state and answerable to the general public and certain external

and internal actors (from verifiers and customers to the neighbourhood and employees), thereby leading to

greater involvement by actors and to transparency of environmental effects. It is this characteristic of fostering

environmental self-regulation that makes EMAS an interesting example of what can be called “modern

governance”. Without going into detail about the main elements of this scheme it is important to stress that

EMAS encourages enterprises to voluntarily adopt policies dedicated to legal compliance and continuous

improvement in environmental performance beyond what is required by law. According to the decision making

process at the EU level, EMAS is seen as an instrument to address the complexity of environmental impacts at

3 See for other reasons why we have explicitly distinguished different levels of analysis the remarks in section 2.4.1 on Jan Kooiman’s three governing orders.

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the site level. As such, it was designed to deal with failures of environmental protection resulting from command

and control instruments. In addition, it is an aim of the instrument that environmental benefits should be

achieved, which would otherwise not be addressed.

1.2 Outline of the Report

The report is consisting of five parts: the introduction, three main chapters and the concluding section.

Chapter two on ‘Sustainability, Innovation and Participation: Operationalisation of the Conceptual Framework’

starts with an introduction to the theoretical assumptions linking participation, sustainability and innovation and

proceeds by asking questions such as the following: what are the key elements of the notion of sustainability?

what aspects of sustainability should and can be reached by the study of EMAS and water supply? For example

in the case of EMAS it is relatively self-evident that it, as a management scheme developed for and adopted by

enterprises or sites (mainly) of the manufacturing and (to a lesser extent) of the service sector, should lead to

innovations that improve products and production processes as well as address their environmental impacts. In

the case of water management a crucial question is whether innovation and sustainability can be promoted (or be

secured) in the context of rising privatisation. The chapter ends with reflections on participatory governance, and

more precisely, on the question of who can participate in EMAS as well as in water supply – and with what

possible outcomes in relation to the pursuit of innovation and sustainability.

The third chapter ‘EMAS – A Participatory Governance Experiment of Self-Regulation and Social

Responsibility’ is focused on findings of the empirical analysis of EMAS, and the question will be addressed

whether and under what conditions – EMAS becomes an instrument for achieving sustainability and innovation

by fostering participation. In the concluding remarks of the chapter some policy implications (which are in some

respects also policy recommendations) are summarised.

Chapter four ‘Water Supply – A Potentially Open Network of Participatory Governance’ addresses the same

questions for the water supply in the three case studies – with a special emphasis on one region in each country

taking into account that the ongoing processes of privatisation and re- regulation in the water sector are highly

scale sensitive. The concluding fifth chapter ‘Participatory governance in multi-level context’ presents and attempt to construct a

theoretical understanding of participatory governance in its multi-level (sectoral and territorial) context including

an assessment of the risks and opportunities associated with the success and failure of the emerging participatory

forms of governance as a means to achieve innovative and sustainable outcomes.

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2. Sustainability, Innovation and Participation: Operationalisation of the Conceptual Framework

2.1 The Theoretical Debate

The aim of the research project was to examine the conditions under which participatory decision-making leads

to sustainable and innovative outcomes. It is assumed that there is a link between kind of participation on the one

hand and types of sustainable and innovative outcomes on the other.

Theoretical debate on participation in a broader context of democratic theory and on sustainability and

innovation suggest that there is some kind of interrelationship (see Schmitter 2002). Participation is traditionally

seen as a means to legitimise the decision-making procedure against the background of conflict of interest

among the involved social actors. In addition, according to some traditions in democratic theory it is assumed

that participation produces “better results” (see for an overview Schmalz-Bruns 2002). This is argued on several

grounds. First, one basic assumption of traditional democratic theory, starting from the idea of the natural rights

of man, is that those who are the object of a decision also have to be given a right to participate in the decision.

Thus, even if the final decision is not based on their ideas, they have had a say and a chance to make their

argument heard. Second, participation by a broad range of interests, if undertaken in an open and free way,

makes everybody give good reasons for their position. This can help to eliminate both egoistically and logically

wrong positions. Third, Charles Lindblom (1965) developed an argument called the “intelligence of democracy”:

those who are given the right to participate might have the relevant knowledge to help produce better results (see

Heinelt 2002).

This last argument is important with respect to innovation. The involvement of those possessing relevant

knowledge is crucial for detecting the potential for innovations and to make innovation work. Furthermore, and

related to the second argument the involvement of or participation by relevant actors is important for the social

acceptability of innovation, and therefore its applicability. This needs to be considered in the broader context that

innovation is related to social change, and social change may imply an unequal distribution of gains and losses

resulting from innovation. Provided that through participation all those, who are relevant to the solution of

problems or the resolution of conflicts, are involved the chances of a positive-sum-game increase, whereby

everybody gains or the losers are compensated through benefiting from overall gains.

In relation to sustainability, there is a tendency to see it not only as a desirable outcome, but also as a broad

process in which a wide range of resources (including the resources of legitimacy) are brought into play.

Because the sustainability ideal is seen to be inclusive, empowering and transparent, it is closely linked to

participation (see O’Riordan/Voisey 1998, 3, 16)as the means to both achieve sustainability and guarantee the

equal distribution of the emerging costs and benefits.

However, whilst a close link or even a causal interrelationship between participation and sustainability or

participation and innovation may seem obvious, in the empirical research one has to analyse whether they are in

reality linked or not. This means that although one can find best cases, one might also be confronted with cases

where we find participation without sustainable and/or innovative outcomes or sustainable and/or innovative

outcomes without participation. Furthermore, even if the two coincide, it is necessary to examine closely

whether one is the causal consequence of the other. This is likely to be extremely difficult to prove. Thus, in the

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empirical research one must be open to contingent results. In summary, the empirical research has to deal with

three aspects: (i) participatory decision-making; (ii) sustainable and innovative results; and (iii) a number of

unanticipated situations.

The aim of the rest of this chapter is to show how we have operationalise the ideas of sustainability, innovation

and participation in order to apply the theoretical framework to the empirical fields. The “conditions” under

which they come together, can however, be derived only after referring to the case studies and through careful

comparative analysis.

2.2 Sustainability

2.2.1 Reflections on Sustainability

Sustainability as elaborated by the Rio Conference in 1992 is generally seen as a concept that tries to

accommodate the needs of present and future generations. Sustainability as an ideal aims at a situation in which

current habits, activities and developments can be indefinitely continued in the future without endangering the

fundamental conditions of life on planet earth. In doing so, the notion of sustainability covers the dimensions of

ecology, economy and of social needs. This means that the perspective, from which current habits, activities and

developments are judged, has to be broadened. It needs to cover space (geographical extension), time and third

parties whose interests have to be taken on board. Moreover, sustainability introduces a strong moral notion into

areas where this has not hitherto featured.

Sustainability is so wide-ranging that it can be realised neither by simple top-down policies nor by following the

conventional paths of decision-making. Rather, all kinds of players, local and global, those in politics and those

in every sector of society have to be brought on board. As O’Riordan and Voisey note: “At the heart of

sustainability is self-regeneration – of the soul as well as of economy, polity and society” (O’Riordan/Voisey

1998, 6). Thus, the responsibility of everybody is emphasised.

It would not be an exaggeration to state that in the field of environmental policy the debate on sustainability has

led to a paradigm shift. Most elements of environmental policy aim at the regulation of private economic

activities, mainly industrial activities. Under the traditional liberal approach, these activities are in principle free

to develop, unless it is shown that they damage third parties (such as the neighbourhood or the water supply

etc.). This has two consequences. First of all, only certain activities can be the target of regulation. Second,

actual or potential damage to someone or something results in a high demand for regulation. Even though the

precautionary principle has brought about considerable change, sustainability brings in a new dimension.

Sustainability – if acknowledged by business interests – introduces a moral notion into their activities, which

means that practices generally have to be justified and measured against the yardstick of sustainability. This is

the case for all activities and practices, not just those that are potentially or actually harmful. This comes close to

a reversal of the burden of proof and is the opposite of the liberal approach.

Thus, under the heading of the overall survival of the planet, the paradigm of sustainability overcomes the

traditional antagonism between those who regulate and those who are the object of regulation. Furthermore, by

stressing common responsibility a common moral aim is introduced which cannot be ignored by anyone party

(although it would be naive to think that this aim is seriously supported by all those who pay lipservice to the

idea of “sustainability”). This could therefore present an opportunity for a threefold extension of the decisional

horizon of business interests beyond traditional environmental protection approaches: an extension with regard

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to space (environmental effects beyond the boundaries of the site or organisation become an issue); with regard

to time (future generations are taken into account); and with regard to third party interests only indirectly

affected by a company's activities (such as environmental or social effects on workers or endangered species or

on the availability of raw materials). Thus, the notion of sustainability underpins the arguments of those who had

already taken these perspectives on board (such as environmental NGOs or environmental policy makers) but

who had yet to come to grips with the dominant liberal approach that does not legitimise these perspectives.

2.2.2 The Empirical Cases - EMAS and Water Supply

Although sustainability as a general concept covers the dimensions of ecology, economy and social needs, the

project is particularly concerned with the ecological dimension of sustainability.. However, we are aware of the

fact that each single dimension of sustainability is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the promotion of

the other dimensions. We should take into account all three dimensions in order to guarantee the achievement of

sustainable outcomes. . However, this varies widely from site to site and from country to country, as the case

studies show. Thus, for example, economic sustainability can be seen as a prerequisite for ecological

sustainability and social sustainability, or alternatively can be seen as a possible consequence of ecological and

social sustainability.

Many of the arguments outlined above on sustainability are particularly relevant in respect to EMAS.4 As an

integrated instrument addressing all aspects of the environment, EMAS reflects a holistic approach – the kind of

approach sustainability needs. While the instrument as a whole is in line with sustainability issues, a number of

specific features need to be specifically emphasised.

First of all, its voluntary and integrated nature stresses the general responsibility of industry and business to

embrace the aim of environmental protection and a sustainable future. In doing so, EMAS aims to stimulate an

internal capacity for change and innovation and opens up the opportunity for companies (or organisations in

general) to combine environmental protection, innovation and cost efficiency.

Second, legal compliance, also associated with the idea of substitution development5 reflects the notion of

responsibility being taken for each site. It particularly stresses the need to stimulate internal capacity in order to

get closer to the very demanding expectation of systematic compliance with statutory duties, instead of waiting

for the arrival of compliance inspectors.

Third, the aim of continuous improvement emphasises the paradigm shift away from the liberal approach

(regulation only of identified harmful activities) and stresses that there is constant potential for improvement

with regard to environmental effects.

Fourth, the stringency with which specific environmental issues have to be addressed goes beyond traditional

environmental protection approach. For example, energy management and type of energy sources have to be

considered as well as the use of raw materials, the minimisation, recycling and transport of waste, the avoidance

of accidents, the training of employees, and the new design of production processes, products as well as the

overall structure of the organisation. The fact that a reduction in the use of resources or the production of waste

4 See chapter 3 of the final EMAS report on the development of EMAS I where the sustainability debate was one of the three key arguments for the idea of a regulation.

5 Substitution in the context of EMAS means that controls and inspections based on environmental statutory obligations are reduced for those sites participating in EMAS, because legal compliance as one element of EMAS has been verified externally and thus can be assumed to have been achieved.

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can save a lot of money - thus proving that economic and ecological improvements can go together - is an

additional benefit for the companies. However, the ideal of sustainability covers more than cuts in costs through

saving energy or water. The threefold extension of the perspective (space, time and third parties) affecting

managers as well as shop-floor workers, goes beyond traditional environmental protection and aims at


Fifth, the idea of including the supply chain, i.e. putting pressure on suppliers and trying to influence the

behaviour of customers, is a crucial element of sustainability policy since it aims at penetrating the whole market

with environmental protection measures.

Sixth, the idea of institutionalising an environmental management system makes environmental protection go

beyond static concern by guaranteeing that environmental protection is continually addressed and gets a voice in

decision-making by both managers and shop floor workers.

Seventh, the duty to publish an environmental statement is not only important for the credibility of the scheme,

but is also an instrument that can in principle open the company up to an interested public which can then

comment on what is going on within the company/site – another sign of a move away from the liberal approach.

In the case of water similar issues arise in relation to the major driving forces inducing changes regarding key aspects of innovation, sustainability and participation in the national and European water supply policies, both in organisational and technological areas. Namely these forces are:

First, ecological management of water resources (refers to sustainability and general socio-ecological aspects e.g. use of alternative water sources minimum ecological flow in dams, abstraction limits, reduction of wasteful use of water) with various knowledge holders (NGOs, experts) representing the category of actors, which are more influenced by this new trend.

Second, effective water supply to satisfy human needs: refers to water quantity. e.g., reduced losses, increased capacity of reservoirs’ system, management plans).

Third, satisfactory quality to protect public health: refers to quality control and treatment of water, e.g. sampling and monitoring of water, chlorination).

Fourth, management of conflicts and allocation of resources: refers to conflicting uses of water and attempts to settle such problems, e.g. interministerial committees, supply of water to municipalities nearby the abstraction areas.

Fifth, cost-effective management of water companies: refers to economic viability of water utilities, e.g. privatisation, pricing of water, potential or private sector involvement, effective financial management, expansion of service area.

Sixth, supra-national legislation: refers to changes in all the above issues through European legislation, e.g. Water Framework Directive. The WFD affects all changes to a certain extent. A series of actors involved in all stages of the urban hydrocycle, modify their roles according to the directive’s general guidelines.

In practice, most of the policy changes that have taken place in the three cases of water supply have been influenced by most of the above driving forces. That means, that ecological concerns and sustainability issues for example, were expressed and materialised through the opinions of experts who participated in the procedure of change because of the WFD. Additionally, the general restructuring of the public sector, took this particular form in the water case, to facilitate - to a certain extent - the WFD’s objectives. Under this framework of interacting driving forces, the whole choreography of actors has been changed. In some policy areas, particular actors are

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intensively involved introducing changes, while in other areas the same actors are practically inactive or even negative to any changes. Moreover, new players have entered the scene, influencing, often considerably, the decision-making and altering the existing attitudes towards specific issues (e.g. research institutes and experts).

2.3 Sustainability cum Innovation

2.3.1. Types of Innovation and the example of EMAS

It can be argued that technological as well as organisational innovations can help to address the different

dimensions of sustainability in so far as they contribute to economic growth, to better environmental

performance and to improvement of working conditions (see Weizsäcker et al. 1995).6

Innovations can be founded on the product, the production process and the structure of an organisation.

This is obvious in the context of EMAS. Here, innovation of products implies first of all improvements in

respect to their environmental impact. This can refer to the use of raw materials, options for recycling and/or

limitations of emissions directly related to the product. Such improvements can have economic effects (a) by

decreasing the costs of the product but also (b) by improving competitiveness in cases where customers are

looking for environmentally friendly commodities. The social impacts of such innovations can be ambiguous:

They can affect working conditions at the EMAS site positively (by banning dangerous substances), but the

choice of a particular raw material could favour some producers rather than others – with consequent positive or

negative social effects, not least in respect to employment options.

Innovations in the production process can be linked to challenges to produce a new or more environmentally

friendly product – or a better quality. In the context of EMAS, this kind of innovation, mainly implies attempts

to avoid or minimise emissions, to reduce the use of natural resources or to substitute them by renewable

resources, or to enhance recycling. These objectives may be reached by the use of new technology but also by a

systematic reorganisation of the production process. Such environmental improvement may lead to cost savings,

but they may also require costly new investments. As with product innovations, the social impacts of innovations

on the production process can be ambiguous. They can affect working conditions positively through

improvements in health and safety as well as “job enrichment”, i.e. by increasing the responsibilities (autonomy)

and the qualifications of employees. But through new technologies and new organisation of the production

process, the responsibilities of employees can be diminished and their qualifications can be devalued. It is

reasonable to argue that EMAS aims at the achievement of positive impacts because otherwise active

involvement of employees could not be assumed. This can be construed as a crucial precondition to realising the

environmental objectives of this particular management scheme.

6 From this view the meaning of sustainability as well as of innovation can be linked to a specific understanding of social change (as suggested in section 2.1). An emphasis on sustainable and innovative development (in the political and theoretical debates) can imply that the process of social change is considered (i) to be manageable as a positive sum game through innovations, that is by increasing public welfare so that

nobody loses or those who do lose can be compensated, and (ii) to be controllable with respect to the impacts of innovation by a process of reflection (referring to space,

time and third parties), which results in avoiding negative consequences. Such an understanding of innovative and sustainable processes of social change not only emphasises participation with respect to the social acceptance of innovations but new forms of participation are also needed to implement innovation in circumstances where it depends on the mobilisation and use of knowledge hold by particular actors/holders.

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Innovations in the structure of an organisation in the case of EMAS can be limited to systematic and on-going

scrutiny, monitoring and control of what is happening over the whole site (not only in the production process) to

avoid unintended environmental effects. EMAS is in this respect one management scheme alongside others,

which are addressing quality management, health and safety and so on. The growing importance of such

schemes can be seen in the context of new technologically determined options and requirements to reorganise

the division of labour and to structure the organisation less hierarchically. Insofar as such options and

requirements are realised – in line with a new “industrial divide” (Piore/Sabel 1984) or “flexible specialisation”

(Lipietz 1991) – in the industrial sector and through the introduction of New Public Management ideas in the

public sector as well (Hood 1991; Schröter/Wollman 2001) particular difficulties arise for management which

can be labelled as the tension between autonomy and control. On the one hand, autonomy has to be “granted” by

management to units within organisations (if not to each employee) to achieve full efficiency and effectiveness,

and on the other hand management has to remain in control in order to know what is going on in “their”

organisation. Management systems – like EMAS – can offer a solution. They promote more decentralised

responsibilities, more horizontal interactions and more involvement by employees, but they also secure for the

management – through the systematic gathering and documentation of what is being done in different parts of

the organisation – evaluation and control of what is going on. Furthermore, through systems of continuous

reporting and documentation, the management can access decentralised dispersed knowledge, and it can ensure

by these systems that such knowledge is not lost when “holders” disappear or try to hold back information.7

2.3.2 EMAS and Water Supply - Critical Features

Based on experience gained from the implementation of EMAS in industrial sites (and on the results of our

empirical research), there are a number of important features that are often forgotten during EMAS

implementation when the main target is sustainable outcomes. For instance, a number of environmental lines can

be omitted from analysis and particularly from improvement. This is especially true for transport, which has very

sensitive ecological dimensions and the production of energy. In addition, that means of securing raw materials

and the environmental qualities of products, especially their disposal, are often neglected. In respect of legal

compliance, the translation of new legal requirements into practical work is a problem that many companies

face. Continuous improvement can turn out to be difficult for those sites with relatively low environmental

impacts, which might, after some time, be seen to have achieved the limits of possible improvement. With regard

to the management system, the co-ordination and integration of environmental protection between different

departments can prove to be problematic.

In the case of water supply it should be stressed that sustainability is not independent from institutional, political

and economic organisational change. To the extent that water management processes are non-participatory our

analysis suggests that there might be problems of sustainability. This is particularly relevant with respect to

commodification of water that permits dealing with a certain problem of ‘scarcity’ in economic terms but makes

water subject to the accumulation imperative with potentially unsustainable consequences. If we consider the

achievement of sustainable outcomes through innovation it is obvious that in respect to water supply no new

“product” has to be invented. But the quality of water and measures to improve it can be subsumed under the

heading of product innovation. Similarly, in respect to process innovation, it implies attempts to avoid or

7 This aspect is address by the growing literature on knowledge management (see for example Myers 1996; Sanchez/Heene 1997; Edvinsson/Malone 1997; Brooking 1999; Probst 1999; Mertins 2001).

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minimise emissions, to reduce the use of natural resources or to substitute them by renewable resources, or to

enhance recycling. Such efforts are linked on the one hand with technology-based innovations and on the other

hand with innovation reached by (new) forms of demand management or (new) co-operative arrangements with

polluters (e.g. in the case of farmers) to improve the quality of water. Finally, in respect to the third kind of

innovations, i.e. those of the overall institutional and organisational structure can be referred to the process of

commodification of water and the related changes toward marketisation, liberalisation and privatisation (see for

these issues chapter 4). These changes alter the organisation of water supply at the different stages of the hydro-

cycle and lead to a shift of power between different sectors of society as well as between different territorial

levels. Taken together the above developments are observable in a variety of scales through the application of

new technological inventions in areas such as water metering, water saving and leakage control and the

introduction of new instruments such as cost recovery, river basin management, pricing, and demand


2.4 Participation

2.4.1 Participatory Governance: An Overview

The task of the two conferences mentioned in the introductory chapter was to help the project partners clarify

their ideas and thereby to guide the empirical research conceptually and to inform the explanations and the

results of the project. Although all the contributions were very helpful in this respect, some of them were of

major importance.

Jan Kooiman’s contribution was helpful to link different elements of the debate on governance to three different

governing orders, i.e. first order, second order and meta governing. These three governing orders offered an

excellent starting point to clarify different forms, meanings and varieties of participation.

Meta governing can be linked to the formation of general or policy-specific ”images” (or paradigms, Leitbilder

etc.). It is underpinned by communicative rationality based on dialogue or, more broadly: on public deliberation.

Meta governing and the development of “images” implies a linguistic coding of problem definitions and patterns

of action which are binding through “ethical standards” (in the words of Kooiman) for society as a whole or for

just a specific sector of society. This has to be established through an argumentative mode of interactions. In

these kinds of interaction participants can use their “voice” and influence the debate through arguments. For the

development of this kind of participation it is important to consider the distribution of “voice” options between

participants and the circumstances under which debate can be influential.

First order governing is oriented towards actions or the “world of action” (Kiser/Ostrom, 1983) with more or

less narrow institutionally defined “choice” options. This is the world of implementation where public

administrations, their agents and supporters meet (mainly hierarchically) those who are addressed by a specific

policy or where policy “addressees” (like enterprises in our EMAS case studies) are implementing a programme

autonomously but not unrelated to influences on and by other actors.

Participation in this context means that those who could be affected by a policy or even a specific programme

have to be involved in its implementation. “Voice” again can be an important element of such an engagement.

But the importance of participation (by “voice”) in the context of first order governing is less related to ethics

than to effectiveness. This means that the implementation of a programme can be secured in line with policy

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objectives, that the motives and concerns of the policy “addressees” can be taken into account as well as their

willingness to comply, and that the knowledge necessary for achieving a given programme can be developed.

These features are nowadays usually referred to as responsiveness, but also as empowerment or enabling. This

underlines on the one hand the importance of creating “voice” options and the circumstances under which

specific actors can be influential, but on the other hand this also refers to institutionally determined based power,

based on structural elements of first order governing interactions. This has to be addressed specifically at the first

order governing level.

However, there is yet also another kind of participation based on communication in the context of first order

governing, namely bargaining. Bargaining rests on a specific kind of power, which derives from “exit” options,

the option of non-compliance or holding back relevant knowledge. This has to be contrasted with debate based

forms of participation or argument, which can be of influence only if “good reasons” can be put forward or if

normatively more or less binding images are employed, developed at the meta governing level.

Second order governing is geared towards institution building and the creation of policy instruments as well as

programmes. Effectiveness can be seen as a norm of second order governing (just as in first order governing). By

achieving effectiveness second order governing can acquire a specific kind of legitimacy, which can be called

output legitimacy. However, this kind of legitimacy is not only poor in a normative sense, but also insufficient in

so far as the sustaining of and changes in institutions are concerned, or, to put it generally, the political order.

This requires input legitimisation by participation, and the form of participation has not only to rely on “voice”

(arguing as well as bargaining in structures of co-decision making by organised interests, i.e. functional interest

intermediation) but also on “vote”, that is, the equal right of all citizens to participate in systems of majoritarian

decision-making. In summary, the traditional form of parliamentary participation is crucial for second order

governing, and therefore for forms of territorial interest intermediation.

Because second order governing is framed by meta-governing, it can be indirectly influenced by the

communicative rationality of meta governing and by the above mentioned forms of debate based participation.

But there are also options of a direct influence of debate based participation (for instance by different kinds of

experts, knowledge holders according to Philippe Schmitter 2002; see below) or lobbying.

This distinction of three governing order has been helpful for the project in two respects.

First, on the background of the distinction of the three governing orders it was possible to consider provisionally

the interrelation between participatory governance and democracy – especially if one combines this distinction

with different forms (or at least common perceptions) of democracy, i.e. between the “liberal” and the

“deliberative model of democracy” (cf. Habermas 1992, 349 ff.; Habermas 1996; Pierre/Peters 2000, 137 ff.).

- Advocates of “liberal democracy” stress the individual right to participate in general elections. This can be

related to second order governing. By these means individual preferences are aggregated to form guidelines

for those in government and the latter can in turn be made accountable to the individual citizen.

- What advocates of “deliberative democracy” are stressing is the option of forming “good governance”

through free, open and public debate (or dialogue). This forms a crucial element of participatory governance

and is important for meta governing and for first order governing. However, it has limited importance for

second order governing.

Secondly, the distinction between the three governing orders as well as the linkages to different forms of

democratic participation was quite helpful for our empirical analysis.

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In the case studies on water supply and EMAS, meta-governing and linked forms of participatory governance

have been addressed by analysis of the debates at the EU level on the water framework directive (WFD) and

EMAS II directive. Additionally, the debates at the national level in the three countries have been analysed on

how to “govern” water supply and how to implement and to organise eco-management and audit schemes.

Second order governing has been addressed by analysis of the decisions on the institutional settings and legal

basis of water supply and EMAS, at both the national and EU level.

First order governing and the related forms of participatory governance have been analysed within the case

studies on water supply for one region of the three countries (Athens, Frankfurt and London) and on EMAS for a

certain number of enterprises/sites (at least six per country).

But one thing became more and more clear in our theoretical discussions as well as in our empirical analysis:

One has to consider what participation really means or should mean when talking about participatory

governance and democracy. Or in other words: Second order governing can convincingly be related to voting as

a specific form of participation emphasised by concepts of liberal democracy. The same is true for meta

governing and deliberation through free, open and public debate (or dialogue) emphasised by concepts of

deliberative democracy. But it seems to be insufficient to link first order governing to participation by arguing

and bargaining (or negotiation) not considering the concrete forms of participation by deliberation. It makes a

difference if only

- consultation is concerned – and those who are “consulted” can feel free to consider the reasoning of the

“consultant” – or

- negotiation where “good reasons” can get a backup by some kind of bargaining power.

Furthermore, considering participatory governance (not only but especially on the level of first order governing)

decision-rules in governance arrangements are crucial (see Schmitter’s principles for decision-rules; Schmitter

2002). They influence the internal power structure by giving actors rights to participate in a specific way and can

ensure that certain actors obtain a hearing. The importance of decision-rules in governance arrangements has

been highlighted by our case studies, and they should be the focal point for (EU) legislation to promote

participatory forms of governance.

But beyond these empirical observations and practical considerations of different forms of participation as well

as beyond the short-cut consideration on the concepts of liberal and deliberative democracy mentioned above it

is crucial to clarify in detail the meaning of participation in different concepts of democracy.

Rainer Schmalz-Bruns responded to this challenging job (Schmalz-Bruns 2002). He started by making a

distinction between the “voluntaristic” and “epistemic” dimensions of interest mediation (or principle of

democratic decision-making or will-formation) which are related to the models of liberal and deliberative

democracy, and which also form different ways of thinking about democratic legitimacy. Schmalz-Bruns

crosstabulated these two basic dimensions of interest mediation with two forms of mediation – a procedural,

institutional and rule-based one and an individual one based on the virtues and competencies of citizens. The

basic forms of democracy thus derived (protective democracy, aggregative democracy, virtue-based

republicanism and procedure-based republicanism) are then crosstabulated by two kinds of inclusiveness (full

and partial), so as to produce eight different forms of democracy. As Schmalz-Bruns makes clear, all of his


- have their heritage in the over 2500 years old history of the idea of democracy,

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- can claim the right of being in line with the idea of democratic legitimacy,

- have particular shortcomings or weaknesses and

- do not in practice appear on their own but are to be found alongside others.

Participatory democracy – built on the epistemic idea of democracy, the institutional form of mediation and a

full understanding of inclusiveness – is one of these forms. It suffers from potential self-selectiveness in

determining a “good reason” (what can be called the problem of epistemic “naturalism” or “objectivism”) and

there is therefore the danger of excluding “everybody else” (Schmalz-Bruns 2002: 8). “But it also suffers from

problems of ‘parochialism’ and the (epistemic and moral) underdetermination of its internal procedures” (ibid.).

These shortcomings should be compensated for by a (complementary) parliamentary system of delegation and

particularly by “a kind of reflexive constitutionalisation establishing and structuring the relations of

interdependence or independence between participatory settings within and across the borders of specific policy

domains, ‘moralising’ the rules of inclusion and exclusion and privileging internal procedures that favour the

deliberative orientation of participants” (ibid.). Finally, the self-awareness of participants – not at least on the

background that “participatory arrangement as such are underdetermined with respect to the ethical meanings

that is very often assigned to them” (ibid.) – depends on trust between actors directly engaged in participatory

governance arrangements and those for whom they are speaking.

Another crucial element in the theoretical debate between the project partners as well as between them and the

academic experts at the two conferences organised by the project was the concept of citizenship. Citizenship

implies legal entitlement underpinned by the state as the authority ultimately responsible and – because of the

monopoly of power – capable of taking binding decisions. All concepts of citizenship are based on this specific

relation between the individual and the state (see Marshall 1964 or, for the “early” German debate, Jellinek


In this sense, participation based on citizenship is related to legal entitlement underpinned by the state. This is

not only the case for the right to participate in elections. The same also applies to shareholders or owners whose

legally secured property rights are the basis for their involvement, when specific collective decisions affect the

private world of ownership. There can also be a legal entitlement for individuals to come together collectively

and attain the legal (or licensed) status of a corporate representative.

The first conference organised by the project was on “Democratic and Participatory Governance: From Citizens

to ‘Holders’?” The subtitle is crucial because it was not quite clear what the assumptions about governance mean

for the concept of citizenship. To put it precisely, because the activities of governing and the sphere of

governance extend far beyond a state-centred vision of policymaking, citizenship based answers to the question

“Who should participate?” seemed to be insufficient.

Against this background, Philippe Schmitter’s reflections on “holders” were interesting, i.e. on

“persons/organizations who could potentially be invited or allowed to participate [because] they possess some

quality or resource that entitles them to participate” (Schmitter 2002, 62). Based on the specific “quality or

resource that entitles them to participate” he distinguishes rights-holders, space-holders, knowledge-holders,

share-holders, stake-holders, interest-holders and status-holders. These distinctions were very helpful in our

empirical analysis because they enabled us:

- to classify governance arrangements according to the involvement of the different kinds of holders,

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- to identify changes in governance arrangements as a result of shifts within the set of holders involved

(especially in water supply systems influenced by “marketisation”), and

- to relate success in sustainability and innovation to the participation of different holder categories.

Nevertheless, the question remained open: “Who should participate?” What was needed was a justification of an

entitlement to participate. Such a justification is provided in general by Philippe Schmitter’s (2002) design

principles for governance arrangements. But his answer to the “question of political design” for governance

arrangements concentrate on “the apposite criterion according to the substance of the problem that has to be

solved or the conflict that has to be resolved” (Schmitter 2002, 63). This implies an answer based on

effectiveness. In short, only those possessing some quality or resource to solve specific problems or to resolve

specific conflicts are given the entitlement to participate. Based on Jan Kooiman’s reflections on the three

governing orders, this seems to be possible (and plausible) for first order governing. However, second order

governing and meta governing are “governed” by other standards (or norms) than effectiveness – namely

legitimacy and ethics. Legitimacy and ethics are important because the design of forms of participation and of

legal entitlement is a political task in the purest sense, that is, a task based on an intentional and binding co-

ordination of societal interactions.

To perceive the design of forms of participation and of legal entitlement as a political task in the purest sense

and to relate it to standards of legitimacy and ethics is important, if it can be assumed that it is participatory

governance that can bring democracy into the wider sphere of policymaking opened up by the shift from

government to governance. This emphasises the importance of the question: How should the concept of

citizenship be re-frame in a way that the question “Who should participate?” can be answered in a society in

which the activities of governing and the sphere of governance extend far beyond a state-centred vision of

policymaking? Roth addressed this issue at the second project conference.

Roth pointed out that citizenship does not and should not imply a static concept. On the contrary, concepts of

citizenship (like that of Marshall 1964) are historically based. This means that – depending on changing societal

conditions – one can and should image new forms of citizenship beyond the familiar economic, political and

social citizenship. Based on the results of our empirical research, Roth began by elaborating on the meaning of

ecological citizenship (and this elaboration can be extended to the “right to be heard/accepted as a knowledge

holder”). Furthermore, he demonstrated that “recent changes in water supply systems can be interpreted as a

challenge to a traditional idea of social citizenship – the infrastructure of everyday life provided by local

authorities (“Daseinsvorsorge”). By making water a commodity it becomes an element of economic citizenship.

Citizens are transformed into consumers, who have to struggle with private owners over the price, the quality

and the security of water supply” (Roth 2002, 6). In conclusion, Roth addressed what he called a “recomposition

and rescaling of citizenship”. He argued: “Often more complex processes are hidden behind what is currently

called ‘privatisation’. When local authorities are losing influence to the private sector, in terms of citizenship it

can be seen as a strengthening of civil, first of all economic citizenship. Saskia Sassen’s studies on global cities

show such shifts, where ‘universal’ transnational property rights are established and protected against local

political and social claims (Sassen 1996). Interestingly these shifts from the local to the global, from social to

economic citizenship were not accompanied by diminishing conflicts, but changed their terrain. Consumer rights

and boycotts have now become a central focus of struggles after the ‘privatisation’ (Klein 2000). Transnational

corporations themselves have become a main target of protests” (ibid.).

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Whatever citizenship can mean, one aspect remains fundamental: Citizenship is based on a “status design” and is

secured by the authority ultimately responsible for the political co-ordination of societal interaction, i.e. the


Although the project partners agreed a common definition of governance – like Kooiman’s who defines

governance as: “All those interactive arrangements in which public as well as private actors participate aimed at

solving societal problems, or creating societal opportunities, attending to the institutions within which these

governing activities take place, and the stimulation of normative debates on the principles underlying all

governance activities” (Kooiman 2002, 73). This definition (like other similar ones) implies that governing

activities include an intentional (i.e. purposeful and potentially interest-related) and binding co-ordination of

societal interactions. Or to quote Philippe Schmitter: “Governance is a method/mechanism for dealing with a

broad range of problems/conflict in which actors regularly arrive at mutually satisfactory and binding decisions

by negotiating with each other and cooperating in the implementation of these decisions” (Schmitter 2002, 53).

This definition implies that:

- governance is primarily seen as a “fact” and is not normatively perceived as good or bad,

- the sphere of policymaking includes societal interactions not covered by the state or government-centred

institutional structure of the political system (in this sense policymaking is extended to society at large),

- the traditional distinction in political theory between state and society can be questioned,

- participation in governing activities is not only a matter of being directly involved in governmental affairs

(by voting, representation etc.) but also through extended forms of policymaking.

In this respect governance was considered (by the project partners) from a concrete and not an idealist or

normative perspective. It was assumed that innovative political, institutional and regulatory frameworks have

developed over the past decade or so at a variety of internally articulated levels (local, national, European). The

formation of such new ensembles of governance is invariably related to actual transformations of the concrete

(that is economic, social, cultural, and/or physical) manner in which various aspects of individual or collective

life are organised. Moreover, the fact that both sustainability and participation have already risen higher on the

political and research agenda suggests that these changing forms of governance have an impact on social life that

is being questioned. However, when considered from the vantage point of actual political-economic and socio-

ecological transformations, the contested terrain of political participation and the content of governance are

subject to all manner of internal conflict and tensions. The choreography of actual transformations in governance

systems opens a vast arena of mutually interdependent mechanisms that significantly increase not only the

complexity of the processes at work, but also, and perhaps more importantly, bring out the possible perverse

effects (or, at least, the contradictory character) of many of these shifts.

On the background of these considerations Bob Jessop addressed the emergence of governance in the context of

on-going societal transformations. Bob Jessop (2002) placed the often cited shift “from government to

governance” in the context of the growing complexity and uncertainty (if not ignorance) in modern society. Like

Kooiman he distinguished different governing forms, and he gave meta governance a special emphasis, i.e. the

way in which modern society takes politically decisions on the paradigms guiding the institutional design as well

as the routines of policy and politics.

8 This will be demonstrated in the following section (2.4.2) in respect to EMAS regarding the category of status holders.

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2.4.2 Participation – and Governing EMAS

Although it is a challenging task to clarify theoretically the meaning of new forms of participation or

participatory governance, it is much easier to address the question of “Who participate how?” with regard to

EMAS. The aim of this section is, using Schmitter’s “holder” concept (see Schmitter 2002, 62 ff), to describe the

range of participants in the implementation of EMAS at the site level and how they can get involved.

In the context of EMAS, we can distinguish participants who are internal and external to the company or who

participate directly or indirectly. They can participate directly in implementing EMAS or they can participate

indirectly, for example by making certain demands on the company or by reading the environmental statement

and responding to it. Furthermore, participation can take place at different stages of the EMAS cycle, starting

with the decision at the site to participate in EMAS, followed by policy formulation, the initial review, the

definition of objectives and measures, the establishment of the management system, the drafting of the

environmental statement up to the external validation and verification, the registration, the publication and

distribution of the environmental statement.

Last but not least, participation in the context of EMAS can be seen not only in relation to the decision to

implement the scheme as such but also in relation to the routines of running the system, because a management

system and audit schemes can open up new options for participation on an everyday basis. In other words,

EMAS can alter the patterns of daily interactions on the site and it can create new horizontal forms of

interaction, albeit operating alongside traditional hierarchical structures.

Most categories of the “holder” concept can be applied to EMAS at site or organisation level, though empirical

work was needed to demonstrate whether these holders actually participate or not.

Within the company, the most obvious group is those of the share holders, who are usually the owner(s).

Whether and to what extent they are involved in EMAS varies considerably depending on the size and legal

status of the company. In those cases where the owner is the boss, he/she will be heavily involved in EMAS,

although involvement may vary between the different stages of implementing the scheme.

Second, there are status holders within companies for example, managing director, heads of department, works

council representatives and safety representatives. These people are likely to participate formally in EMAS

implementation because of their status. They could as well be part of an “environmental team”. The degree to

which these roles are explicit or implicit depends in the main on the size and structure of the companies, but it

also varies between different countries. For example in Germany there is a greater tendency than in the UK or

Greece to establish clear structures and to designate responsibilities formally. Beyond any explicit rules laid

down by a company/organisation, formally defined statuses can also be established by law, such as the role of

representatives of employees on works councils like in Germany.

Third, there is the category of work holders. Employees who can – and in terms of our approach should – play a

part in EMAS are an important category in their own right. Even though they hold interests, stakes, knowledge

and status, subsuming them under one of those “holder” categories would hide their specific role. Whether they

participate in EMAS and if so whether this happens at the decision-making stage (decision to participate) or

during implementation can vary.

Beyond the company/site, there are a number of other holders. The fourth category includes those knowledge

holders who in the context of EMAS are the external environmental consultants who play an extremely

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important role in the introduction of EMAS. Their participation mainly consists of giving advice on the

application of EMAS to the specific site conditions and it usually ends with the first EMAS cycle.

Fifth, there are two different kinds of status holders outside the company, namely the external environmental

verifier who participates at the end of the EMAS cycle in a strictly defined role, and the registration bodies, who

participate by co-operating with environmental agencies and by registration (or rejecting it). Local authorities

responsible for the area where the site is located should be included in this category. They represent the “local


Sixth, there are holders of a spatial location, i.e. neighbours. Neighbours are in principle a very important holder

group, potentially suffering heavily from environmentally damaging behaviour.

Seventh, there are interest holders, i.e. those persons or organisations who have an awareness of the site’s

activities and an interest in participation. In the context of EMAS these are in the main (local) environmental

groups. They would be likely to participate indirectly by demanding that an environmental management system

be established or by criticising the way it was being introduced.

Finally, there are stake holders, which covers all those who could potentially be affected by what happens at the

site, regardless of who and where they are. For example, there are the very important groups of customers and

suppliers. Whereas all of the other holders participate by using their “voice”, customers have the very powerful

instrument of choice. In choosing environmentally friendly products, they can exert strong pressure on

companies to participate in EMAS. On the other hand, EMAS sites can put similar pressure on their suppliers.

By using Schmitter’s “holder” concept the “question of political design” for participatory governance is

answered in a particular way, i.e. by “choosing the apposite criterion according to the substance of the problem

that has to be solved or the conflict that has to be resolved” (Schmitter 2002: 63). This seems to be both possible

and plausible for EMAS, or for self-regulation in companies in general. But it has to be stressed (as mentioned in

section 2.4.1) that this implies that an answer to the “question of political design” is focussed on effectiveness,

because only those possessing some quality or resource to solve specific problems or to resolve specific conflicts

related to EMAS are given an entitlement to participate. But there are other standards (or norms) than

effectiveness by which actors are entitled to participate – namely, legitimacy and ethics.

The standard (or norm) of legitimacy is introduced by the politically defined and legally required procedures and

contents of EMAS. The required procedures and contents are crucial because the scheme and the credibility of

its implementation are politically and socially accepted only when they are secured. In this context the role of

status holders can be seen as crucial. They have their status by being “recognized by the authorities ultimately

responsible for decision and formally accorded the right to represent a designated social, economic or political

category” (Schmitter 2002: 63), and it can be argued that they have been “recognized” and formally accorded a

specific right of representation because otherwise the scheme runs the risk of losing or never acquiring

legitimacy – or political and societal acceptance.9 In this respect, the “granting” of a status does address the

effectiveness of the scheme, but not in a merely economic or technical sense, rather in an essentially political

way. Furthermore, status holders possess a specific quality or resource that entitles them to participate because

9 On this, see the discussion at EU level in the context of EMAS II about the involvement of “interested parties” and employees (see section 3.2.4 of the attached final report on EMAS) and also the discussions in the three member states about the involvement of certain status holders (representatives of collective actors) in the national organisational framework for the implementation of EMAS.

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this quality or resource is “designed” by political decision and can be enforced by the authorities ultimately

responsible for that decision.

Maybe the term “ethics” is misleading because of its vagueness. In this context the term can be linked to policy-

specific “images” or paradigms underpinned by communicative rationality based on dialogue or, more broadly,

deliberation. The development of “images” implies a linguistic coding of problem definitions and patterns of

action, which are binding through a common understanding of what is “good” or “bad” or even “appropriate” or

“inadequate” for society as a whole or for a specific sector of society. This has to be established through

dialogue and debate. In our case, sustainability in general as well as “good housekeeping” and “corporate

governance” represent such “images”. Provided such “images” have acquired the status of a “meaning system”

(Scott 1994 70ff) shared by an organisation, they can have an influence on the answer to the “question of

political design” for participatory governance in the same way as statuses “granted” to actors by political

authorities. This is because such “images” influence the choice of the “apposite criterion” for identifying those

who should be participating based on the nature of the problem to be solved.

To sum up, participation in EMAS may be determined in the main by measures of effectiveness of this business-

related instrument of self-regulation. Nevertheless, legitimacy plays a crucial role. To guarantee political and

societal acceptance of the instrument, some actors are assigned a specific political status which permits them to

participate. Furthermore, particular “images” or common understandings are needed to agree the “apposite

criterion” for identifying those who should participate.

Although these reflections are important for answering the question “Who participates?” another question

remains: “How do different holders participate?” or “What does participation under specific circumstances


In the context of EMAS, it is clear that share holders “participate” in a way different from other holders. Based

on their property rights, owners can take final decisions.

There are also differences between the multiple status holder category and the other “holders”. As mentioned

above, status holders possess a specific entitlement to participate which is “designed” by political decision and

which can be enforced by the authorities ultimately responsible for making decisions. In other words, status

holders possess a bargaining power based on the politically based “right to represent a designated social,

economic or political category” (Schmitter 2002: 63), be it the EMAS system as such (in the case of verifiers) or

the local state or employees with particular status such as works council or safety representatives. Such status

and the bargaining power derived from it can limit the discretion of shareholders. This depends on the specific

definition of status, which can vary between countries, as in the case of representatives of employees.

Holders through other means than status can also acquire bargaining power. For instance, customers have exit

options. They can choose the product or the service of another company. But this kind of bargaining power need

not be expressed by direct communication. Even the perception of an alternative choice (in the market) can be

influential. Furthermore, holders (especially neighbours as “holders of a spatial location”) can acquire bargaining

power by threatening to go to court, where there is evidence that they are suffering from the (illegal) activities of

a site.

The other holders (especially knowledge holders, but also work holders when their interests are not covered by

status holders) have just the one option of participating through debate or consultation by trying to convince

others by putting forward “good reasons”. They can rely only on “voice” and not on bargaining power based on

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status, exit options or threatening to go to court. Nevertheless, the “voice” option should not be underestimated

in the context of EMAS, where ignorance and uncertainty are crucial issues and knowledge is a scarce resource.

However, it should be emphasised that participation in a context like EMAS is mainly based on communication.

As a mode of interaction communication is not only crucial for consultation or debates (or arguing) but also for

negotiation (or bargaining).10 However it makes a difference (as mentioned in section 2.4.1) if only

- consultation takes place and those who are “consulted” feel free to scrutinise the reasoning of the

“consultant”, or

- negotiation is appropriate where “good reasons” can get support from some kind of bargaining power.

2.4.3 Participation – and Governing Water Supply

The water case studies addressed participation by focusing on three inter-related themes. First, substantiating the

extent to which changes in the governance of water at local, national, and EU levels (and the articulation

between these scales) expressed a shift from state-led and state-controlled forms of water-government

(command-and-control systems) to a new institutional form of water governance beyond-the-state. Second,

teasing out how these innovations in water governance articulate with changing choreographies of participation

and, third, identifying the relationships, if any, between sustainability, innovation, and participation.

Contrary to state-based arrangements, which are hierarchical and top-down command-and-control forms of

setting rules and exercising power (but recognised as legitimate via socially agreed conventions of

representation, delegation, accountability, and control), governance systems are presumably based on horizontal,

network, and interactive relations between independent but interdependent actors that share a high degree of

trust, despite internal conflict and oppositional agendas, within inclusive participatory institutional or

organisational associations. These are systems of negotiation-and-covenant that operate beyond-the-state (albeit

not independent from the state). The participants in such forms of governance partake (or are allowed to partake)

in these networked relational forms of decision-making on the basis of the ‘stakes’ they hold with respect to the

issues these forms of governance attempt to address (see Schmitter, 2002: 62-63).

It is characteristic that the EU, through the third wave of EU water directives, has attempted to incorporate an active policy of introducing new actors into the consultation – and to an extent – implementation process. This involves participatory procedures. The process is highlighted within the selected European cases. In Germany, the water supply sector is decentralised, characterised by strong participation of municipalities as main actors, and various forms of public-private partnerships. The UK has adopted a different approach to the same subject, as the organisational structure of the water sector is based on deregulation and private initiatives. The two cases, although different, reflect a recent shift from the dominant conventional forms of governance to new forms which enables the formation of policies with sustainable outcomes, through innovative strategies and participatory procedures. It is important to make clear though, that these new practices are not without serious deficiencies, problems and constraints. On the other hand, Greece remains a state with strong hierarchical and centrally administrative structure, with significant fragmentation of responsibilities between the involved ministries and exclusion of interested actors from the decision making process.

To the extent that participation is invariably mediated by power (both among ‘holders’ and also between levels

of government/governance and between governing institutions, civil society, and encroaching economic market

10 For the debate on arguing and bargaining (or debate and negotiation) see Heinelt et al. 2001: 13.

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power) then the excavation of shifting relations of power is a central concern. Since it is impossible here to

exhaust the theorisations and perspectives on social and political power, we shall focus on the principles that

fundamentally shape an individual’s or a social group’s position within the polity. These principles articulate

their respective (but interrelated) power position vis-à-vis governing institutions on the one hand and civil

society on the other. In pluralist democracy, the political entitlement of the citizen is articulated via the twin

condition of ‘national’ citizenship on the one hand and the entitlement to political participation in a variety of

ways (but, primarily via a form of constitutionally or otherwise codified representational democracy) on the

other. Network based forms of governance often do not (yet) have codified rules and regulations that shape or

define participation and identify the exact domains or arenas of power. This opens up a vast arena of contestation

that revolves around the exercise (or the capacity to exercise) entitlements and institutional power. In the

following sections, the key issues and problems associated with this alleged emerging shift from government to

governance with respect to the twin features of participation and of power are explored.

The first question revolves around entitlement and status. While the concept of holder is inclusive and

presumably exhaustive, the actual concrete forms of governance are, as is clear from the case studies, necessarily

constrained and limited in terms of who can, is, or will be allowed to participate. In addition, the terms of

participation may vary significantly from mere consultation to the right to vote on a decision or unanimity.

Needless to say, that status within the participatory rituals co-determines effective power positionality. More

fundamentally, while political citizenship-based entitlements are inclusive (at a national level), holder

entitlements are invariably predicated not only upon a willingness to accept new entrants as participants, but also

upon willingness-to-participate by the new entrants.

In addition to decisions over entitlements to participate, the structure of representation is of crucial importance.

While pluralist democratic systems exhibit clear and mutually agreed forms of representation, holder

participation suffers from an ill-defined and diffuse notion of representation. In particular, it has not outlined any

actual system of representation. Various groups and individuals participating in networks of governance have

widely diverging mechanisms to decide on representation and to organise feedback loops to their constituencies.

Directly related to the question of representation is the mechanism and lineage of accountability. Again, while a

democratic polity has more or less clear mechanisms to establish accountability (however minimal in effect),

holder representation fundamentally lacks explicit lines of accountability.

This brings the argument directly to the question of legitimacy. Given the difficulties outlined above, the

mechanisms of legitimisation of policies and/or regulatory interventions become very different from those of

representational democracy. To the extent that legitimacy does not spring from institutionally defined

entitlement to representation and accountability, these new forms of governance face serious internal and

external problems to establish or maintain legitimacy. In fact, this has been a long-running problem for many of

the EU forms of governance. As mentioned above, governance can imply (as meta governing) a linguistic coding

of problem definitions and patterns of action. This view parallels recent perspectives on eco-political consensus

formation that show a reliance on the formation of discursive constructions (through the mobilisation of

discourse alliances) that produce a collective image of a desirable condition (Hajer 1989; 1995). Such

performative discursive strategies constitute powerful mechanisms for producing hegemony and manufacturing

consent and, thus, a degree of legitimacy. A clear example of how governance systems rely on constructing

particular linguistic coding and images can be found in the WFD. While the Directive’s stated, and commonly

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agreed, legitimate objective is to achieve a ‘good water’ standard within the EU, it simultaneously privileges

particular means of achieving that end (such as, among others, moving in the direction of full cost recovery).

Furthermore, the geographical scale or level at which forms of governance are constituted and their internal

choreographies of participation/exclusion are clearly significant. More importantly, scales of governance are

rapidly ‘re-scaling’ (Swyngedouw 1998; 2000), i.e. competencies and terrains of policy intervention have shifted

in recent years either upwards from the national scale to the scale of the EU (or beyond) or downwards to the

regional or local scale. This process of ‘jumping of scales’ (Smith 1984) is not neutral in terms of power

relations. In fact, with changing scalar configurations, new groups of participants enter the frame of governance

or re-enforce their power position, while others become or remain excluded.

The range of choices open to a decision-making governance ensemble is constrained by its position within a

scalar governance hierarchy. As both Kooiman (2002) and Jessop (2002) attest in their contributions, a clear

distinction, at least theoretically, has to be made between meta-, first, and second order governance. In terms of

the political and social framing of policies, there is a clear hierarchy between these orders of governance (which

can and do operate at all scales). However, the choreography of participation, including entitlement, status, and

accountability, vary significantly depending on the ‘order’ of the governing network. Consider, for example,

how the formation of the WFD11 – a meta-governance order – was characterised by a very particular power

configuration and structure of participation, while the framework directive imposes – as a form of also second

order governing – (through its art. 14) a far-reaching degree of participation for the new institutions of

governance to be established at the level of the river basin. The range of options open to catchments based

governance ensembles is pre-determined by the WFD and reflects their relatively humble position within the

governance hierarchy.

The political and institutional armature does not operate independently from the social and economic sphere. In

fact, any operation of the political sphere is de facto a political-economic and a political-ecological intervention

as this sphere inevitably impinges on, and is shaped by, decisions over economic processes and modes of

environmental use and transformation. This is particularly true in a market-economy in which key decisions over

resource allocation are taken by private actors who operate within the regulatory framework of systems of

government. Over the past few decades, there has been a tendency towards de- and re-regulation, and towards

the externalisation of state functions. The new forms of governance were either instrumental in shaping this

transformation of regulation or themselves became the regulatory framework for managing a beyond-the-state


Last, but not least, it would be premature to announce the death of the national state in the wake of the

emergence of these new forms of governance. In fact, many of these networked organisations are set up and

directly or indirectly controlled by the state and, regardless of their origin, necessarily articulate with the state.

Hence, the political power choreography in this hybrid government/governance configuration is multi-layered,

diffuse, de-centred, and, ultimately, not necessarily very transparent. For example, the new forms of governance

(at the EU or other levels) are invoked by the state to legitimise and push through forms of intervention that

might otherwise meet with considerable resistance from (significant parts of) civil society. Equally, states can

11 See chapter 1 of the final report on water supply ( doc).

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also divest political decisions that they anticipate will have inevitable negative electoral consequences down the

hierarchy of governance onto quangos.

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3. EMAS – A Participatory Governance Experiment of Self-Regulation and Social Responsibility

EMAS, as passed in 1993 as an innovative policy tool, proved to be an instrument for improving environmental

performance of industrial companies and helped to achieve sustainability objectives. The revision of the scheme

took place between 1998 and 2000 under the participation of relevant holders. It aimed at improving the

instrument, extending its scope to all sectors, clarifying its relationship with the international standard for

environmental management, ISO 14001, and at increasing the participation of interested parties (holders).

On the background of the empirical findings of the project we will try to answer the question whether or not and

under what circumstances EMAS contributed or fostered participatory governance leading to sustainable and

innovative outcomes. In the first section of this chapter we will summarise the findings of the case studies on the

selected EMAS sites (enterprises and local authorities). In a second section we will address the “design” of

EMAS at the EU level because the decisions on the structure of this policy tool has had – without any doubt –

important impacts on how it worked. The same is true for the extremely different conditions EMAS met in the

member states. These differences and their effects on the application of EMAS will be summarised in a third

section. In the final section some policy recommendations will be presented.

3.1 EMAS: Participation, Innovation and Sustainability

In the context of EMAS, we have to discuss participation in a specific environment (as mentioned before). It has

been clear from the beginning that EMAS involves only a defined set of actors and a clear boundary – the site

level. So participation is restricted to the site’s social environment (employees, staff members, neighbours,

consumers, customers, interested actors). Local authorities are somehow different examples to enterprises

because here, the decision to implement EMAS can be influenced by democratic decisions of local government.

In addition, the implementation of EMAS can be part of broader strategies directed for example to implement

Local Agenda 21 (see Voisey 1998, Beuermann 1998).

In considering governance arrangements, one has – in Schmitter’s (2002: 58) words – to reflect about three

questions: (1) What is the purpose of delegating power to such an arrangement? (2) Who should participate in

it? (3) How should they participate or reach decisions?

The first question can be related to the motives of sites to implement EMAS. A wide range of reasons was given

for the decision to engage with EMAS. In general two different motivations can be distinguished:

- On the one hand, there were firms mainly interested in the ‘label’, the verified environmental statement,

which was used for their marketing and/or public relations strategies. In some cases clients, suppliers or

customers demanded it. Additionally, these companies hoped to use the ‘label’ to stress ‘good will’ in the

likelihood of possible new environmental regulations laid down by the government. A sub-category of this

group perceive EMAS (also) as a way of increasing good contacts with the surrounding area (like Hamburg

airport – as one of our German cases – or some of the Greek cases).

- On the other hand, there were organisations, which were mainly interested in the environmental management

dimension of EMAS. By focusing on the management aspects, they hoped not only to achieve a better

environmental performance by cutting back the emissions of pollutants, which would result in saving money

and a more efficient and more environmentally sound production process. Additionally they hoped to

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improve their overall performance regarding a more efficient and effective management of the organisation

in general. This implied a clarification of what is really going on at the shop floor as well as a more

transparent organisation of interactions in the site and a clear(er) distribution of tasks and responsibilities.

This distinction between an ‘outward-looking’ and often tactical orientation on the one side and an ‘inward-

looking’ strategically or even long-term perspective on the other side makes a difference not at least in respect to

the other two questions, i.e. who is important and should (therefore) participate and how should important actors

be involved. This becomes clear especially regarding a broader staff involvement. It is crucial for the second

(‘inward-looking’) cases but of minor importance for the first (the ‘outward-looking’) ones.12

In addressing the second question (“Who should participate?”), we can distinguish participants who are internal

and external to the site. Using Schmitter’s holder concept (2002: 62-63), one can focus on share holders

(owners), status holders (directors, department leaders, works council representatives, health and safety

representatives), work holders (employees), knowledge holders (external consultants), external status holders

(environmental verifiers), holders of a spatial location (neighbours), interest holders (those persons or

organisations who have an awareness of the site’s activities and an interest in participation), and stake holders

(all those that could potentially be affected by what happens at the site, regardless who and where they are).

Regarding the third question (“How should they participate or reach decisions?) the mentioned holders can

participate directly in implementing EMAS or they can participate indirectly, for example by putting certain

demands to the site or by reading the environmental statement and responding to it.

Moreover, participation by holders can reflect different qualities depending on the status of the participant.

Again, participation at the site level is limited to its social environment and within the site it is taking place on

the background of the option that the owners or the senior management can decide hierarchically. So, internal

participation will most likely be limited to consultation and some form of negotiation. Consultation means that

participants have the right to express their opinions and try to convince others of their argument but decisions are

taken by a designated and authorised group or even by a single person. In negotiations, participants are

consulted, can exercise bargaining power (threat with exit-option or non-agreement) and decisions are taken

according to some “qualified procedure”. This applies especially to status holders who possess a specific

entitlement to participate (as mentioned before). But it depends on the concrete definition of a status – which

varies or even may vary between countries (like in the case of representatives of the employees) – in which way

a bargaining power and a certain kind of participation can be acquired.

Furthermore, participation can take place in different stages of the EMAS cycle (as mentioned in section 2.4.2)

but participation in the context of EMAS has to be considered not only in respect to the implementation of the

scheme as such but also in respect to the daily running of the system, because an implemented management and

audit scheme could open up new options for participation – not at least for the work holders – through its daily

use. Or in other words: EMAS could alter patterns of daily interactions within the site and it could create new

horizontal forms of interaction resulting in a new form of governance within a site. Governance within a site is

one new form of governance possibly created through EMAS. Especially EMAS II, the revision of first directive

being done by July 2000, focuses particularly on participatory aspects of internal decision-making and the

implementation of the scheme within an organisation.

12 Needless to say that some kinds of actors (holders) are important per se when EMAS is concerned. These are the share holders, some status holders and – depending on the individual case – some knowledge holders.

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But these legal requirements of EMAS II do not influence the governance arrangement with in a site sufficiently

in a way so that work holders or their representatives really got a new strong status. Or in other words: through

EMAS II work holders or their representatives have not been transformed effectively into status holders. This

becomes clear by the fact that employees – with the exception of German works council members, who can be

labelled as status holders – have not participated in the decision to implement an EMS.

However, the case studies did show that, even though the decision was taken by owners or managing directors,

sometimes in close co-operation with external consultants, acceptance by employees was considered as

important for the successful implementation of the scheme. In addition, in a majority of the sites changes in the

organisational structure did occur, leading to a clearer organisation of work and a more detailed assignment of

responsibilities. In some sites, the involved owner and senior management not only created new structures for

information sharing but also created structures to generate knowledge for improvements or ideas about

sustainable innovations from the employees. In the latter not only the management style had been modified in

the direction of allowing more co-operative participation of interested employees, but also newly created

structures (e.g. environmental committees) could be observed representing at least some co-operative

‘partnership’ between higher management and employees.

Therefore, we can conclude that there are hints that the inclusion of new forms of governance within a site has so

far enhanced the opportunities for mutual accommodation though exchanges of reasoned arguments, served to

generate higher levels of trust among those who participate and this, in turn allowed them to introduce a longer

time-horizon into their calculations on possible sustainable innovations and it is likely that all this will continue

in the future. Furthermore, one can conclude that a co-operative management style led to the best results. Some

cases also clearly demonstrated that staff participation was more likely when there was a high level of trust

between the leaders (director, manager, environmental representative, co-ordinator) and the employees. Without

this trust, staff refused to co-operate, because they feared top-down control. Where staff had experienced

problems following the implementation of new programme, they were less likely to welcome another one. When

trust between the management and staff had already been destroyed, there was little by way of participation by

staff. Linked to this, good leadership can be highlighted as a condition for success, and good leadership required

a sustainable vision and the ability to convince staff to take the sustainable elements of EMAS seriously. To sum

up: EMAS fits best to well organised sites with good leadership.

It is also a purpose of EMAS to create a new form of government-market governance or to foster it. On the one

hand this purpose can be related to ‘governmental’ objectives to induce self-regulation on the part of enterprises

and to complement regulation of companies through command and control policies. But on the other hand these

‘governmental’ objectives can meet business interests as well. Traditionally, command and control policies,

which make up the core of most countries’ environmental regulation, have sought to bring about environmental

improvements by setting strict emission limits as well as prescribing the technologies and processes needed to

meet these limits. These policies are typically applied uniformly across industry regardless of local economic or

environmental conditions, and they impose stiff penalties on violators. Governments intend to create stronger

capacities for self-regulation by playing a more limited role in the EMAS “beyond compliance policy”.

The questions of “Who should participate?” and “How should actors participate?” regarding government-market

governance is easy and difficult to answer at the same time. On the one hand it seems to be reasonable that the

participation of sites should be voluntary because self-regulation (if not self-reflection) as the intention can

hardly be prescribed. On the other hand the scheme has to exercise public credibility to legitimate a reduction of

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control by the state. This requires certain prescribed procedures as well as the involvement of actors who are

supporting the implementation of this procedures (knowledge holders) and verifying their proper implementation

(verifiers and registration bodies as status holders). Finally, a broad spectrum of other holders are put in the role

of ‘control agents’ by given them the opportunity to react to the required environmental statement.

How EMAS has contributed to the development of new forms of government-market governance in individual

member states will be addressed below (in section 3.2). Here we only want to stress that the results are quite

different – due to the different already existing governance structures and the different arrangements

institutionalised by the member state for the implementation of EMAS.

Finally, EMAS can be applied to create a new form of market-civil society governance. In principle, by putting

the general public, or more precisely the consumer, in a “observatory position” with respect to the individual

firm/site through the publication of the environmental statement, EMAS tries to increase the transparency of the

registered sites in general. One could argue that it is the aim of EMAS to enforce better environmental

performance in the light of public scrutiny. Again, this can be a ‘governmental’ objective which also meets – at

least partly – the intention of enterprises.

It is likely that the environmental statement required under EMAS can be used as a marketing tool only if they

have an effect on competitiveness. Only if suppliers, customers, or clients require the implementation of EMAS

it can clearly lead to advantages in the market, and only if the environmental statement has an effect on

consumers and their decisions, it leads to financial benefits. But to have a positive impact on competitiveness by

the publication of an environmental statement under EMAS usually needs informed and environmental aware


We can also conclude, that EMAS is able to promote new forms of market-civil society governance by creating

and strengthening relations to the neighbourhood. This contributes to ‘openness’ and a public debate about

environmental problems produced by the site and the measures undertaken and/or necessary to solve them.

Although some sites which have a major environmental impact on their neighbourhood had already established

contacts with spatial and interest holders before deciding to implement EMAS the environmental management

system usually took in this cases the decisive form of an additional, more concrete, long term tool. But also in

such cases we can summarise that EMAS is a tool to move towards a new form of market-civil society

governance, but the instrument needs to be embedded in an overall strategy.

To sum up, EMAS has created new forms of governance in the mentioned three different ways (i.e. governance

within a site, government-market governance and market-civil society governance). But have such new forms of

governance – with its particular options for participation – really contributed to innovation and sustainability?

On the background of our case studies the following can be summarised.

In general, the distinction made above between ‘outward-looking’ and ‘inward-looking’ perspective by applying

EMAS makes a difference. Or to put it precisely: The more EMAS was used for “tactical” reasons (as a

marketing and/or a public relations instrument), the more sustainable innovations have been achieved as

(welcomed) by-products. The more EMAS was implemented strategically or for a long-term perspective the

more innovative and sustainable outcomes were likely – depending on the concrete “strategic” and long-term

13 This is an explanation for the fact, that in countries lacking environmentally aware suppliers, customers, clients, or consumers (like in Greece), private sector sites have preferred to implement ISO 14001, an environment management system which does not require the publication of an environmental statement.

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objectives. Such objectives can be related explicitly to specific dimensions of innovation and sustainability (the

ecological, economical and/or social one; see section 2.2).

In analysing the innovations achieved, one can (as mentioned before) focus on changes in the product (new

product/improvement of the same product), in the production process (product lines, expansion of existing

technology) and on the reform of the overall organisational structure and management.

As far as the last aspect of innovation (i.e. the reform of the overall organisational structure and management) is

concerned the result seems to be simple: EMAS is an instrument, and as an instrument EMAS has not led to a

change in an organisation’s policies. Instead, it is reflecting the direction that the organisation has taken. As

such, the case studies showed that EMAS should be seen as part of larger changes within a company or an

organisation. Or in other words: EMAS was usually a reflection of a shift to a more innovative (and

environmentally aware) organisational culture. And the degree to which EMAS contributed to innovative

organisational changes depended on the (given) organisational culture, i.e. the openness to respond to challenges,

to manage uncertainty, to absorb new knowledge and to new forms of participation. In this respect one has to be

aware about a high degree of path-dependency. Nonetheless, there is a lot of evidence from our case studies that

EMAS can speed up and alter the direction of innovation processes beyond the originally intended scope. Or to

put it again precisely: Once implemented as an instrument to achieve certain objectives EMAS can exercise an

unplanned dynamic regarding organisational changes. This can be related to the specific interactive and social

character of such innovations.

In respect to the other two forms of innovation (i.e. innovation of products and production processes) the just

mentioned possible dynamic can occur also, and options to become aware about improvements of products and

production processes (unknown before) can be seen as a crucial motive to the application of EMAS. On the

background of our empirical findings one can argue that this motive (and the option of unplanned dynamics in

innovations of products and production processes) was more likely in smaller companies than in bigger

(international) ones because the latter were more aware of the available options. Usually bigger (international)

companies had already developed organisational capacities in a systematic way to address such innovations

before thinking about the implementation of EMAS.

There is a major difference between innovation of products and production processes and the before mentioned

innovations in the overall organisational structure and management. While the later relied and depended on a

given organisational culture (and in this respect on specific conditions, if not path-dependency), the former were

not so demanding. EMAS can be applied as an instrument to achieve such innovations systematically, but at least

in a purely ‘technical’ way, i.e. in a way that improvements of the used raw materials, savings of natural

resources, the re-use, the reduction of emissions etc. as well as the introduction of new technologies, a re-

organisation of the division of labour etc. are considered. This more or less ‘technical’ approach of achieving

innovation of products and production processes – instead of a more ‘social’ and interactive approach in respect

to intended organisational innovations – implied that innovation processes were more controllable, i.e. certain

holders (e.g. the owner or the senior management) were able to easily decide on the direction of the innovation

process or were able to stop it at a certain point. But it has to be emphasised that depending on the concerned

kind of ‘technical’ improvements the degree of controllability of such innovation processes differed. The more

technologically demanding they were and the more they relied on certain knowledge holders (not at least on

qualified work holders) the more dynamic they were. This referred at the end to blurring boundaries between

innovation of products and related necessary changes in production processes and between innovation in

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production processes and required changes in the overall organisational structure of a company (or in general: an


The mentioned features of innovation became also clear regarding the participation of work holders. For sites

with big environmental impacts, the innovations which counted most in respect of decreasing or avoiding these

impacts were in the main achieved by investments in new and more environmentally friendly technology or by

improvements of the production process. In these cases, the research demonstrated that those generally

responsible for these kinds of innovation (managing director, research unit, technical departments, environmental

manager) had actively participated in their development. Participation by employees was limited in such cases

on the first step to seminars and training, focusing on learning to work with new technologies or to work within

improved production processes. In the long run the learning of workers and their active involvement in

production processes have been crucial to realise performances/outcomes expected by those responsible for the

mentioned improvements.

This can be linked with another finding. In sites (i) employing staff with high qualification, (ii) with high

technical production processes and (iii) requiring a high level of flexibility, participation was sought out through

a broad spectrum of opportunities for discussions and knowledge generation, and was helped by a change in the

organisational structure (“intelligent jobs need intelligent employees”). In sites that did not have these kinds of

jobs, the importance of participation by employees varied. While distribution of information through training and

seminars took place in all cases, employees played different roles in varying phases of EMAS. They may have

been responsible for the collection of information, they may have participated in information meetings about

objectives and identification of measurements or they may have provided ideas for future improvements on the

companies environmental performance.

Therefore, it is possible to conclude that in reflecting upon new forms of governance within a site, the type of

innovation matters.

The issue of sustainability can be addressed by including broader categories (see section 2.2) such as decrease of

level of pollutants, savings of resources, recycling, re-use of materials, use of renewable energy sources,

environmental criteria in the choice of suppliers, influencing the environmental behaviour of customers and

consumers, environmental neighbourhood effects, transport, increase of environmental awareness

(internal/external), legal compliance, continuous improvement, long-term thinking, and social implications.

Some sustainable innovations regarding a decrease of pollutants, savings of resources, recycling, re-use of

materials, use of renewable energy sources etc. have been discovered in all sites. Additionally, in all the case

studies, innovations did lead to more environmentally sound production processes. This went hand in hand (a)

with financial benefits for the company, even though they were not always quantifiable and (b) with enhancing

the environmental image of companies, even though it was not often used as a marketing tool. Finally, improved

environmental awareness of staff was among the most often cited benefit through out all cases.

Differences appeared not at least between the three countries. Although German sites were concerned about

environmental aspects and per se of course about economic ones, aspects of sustainable improvements did not

play a dramatic role for them. The relatively high level of environmental awareness already reached before

EMAS was implemented can explain this. Social aspects were at least at the beginning of the implementation

mostly not involved in the German cases but became more important in some cases through the application of

EMAS. Only two sites (City of Hanover, Lincoln) took social aspects into account when EMAS was started. All

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six UK case studies were to a greater or lesser extent involved in the development of sustainability policies. The

responsible people for EMAS implementation in companies and local authorities found it challenging to

understand exactly what sustainable development meant for the way everyday business was carried out. They

were familiar with the ‘Brundtland’ definition of the concept and were also aware that it included the three

interlinking elements of the social, economic and the environmental. Nevertheless, most sustainability strategies

focused on environmental improvements. The social and community activities that some companies had been

undertaking were generally not included under the umbrella of sustainability policies, while with respect to local

authorities they were. For the Greek cases it is obvious that environmental management systems are a crucial

tool for creating and increasing awareness of the site’s environmental impacts. Although environmental

management systems have been used at the beginning mainly as a modern management and marketing

instrument for increasing sales and enhancing the site’s profile in the eye of their customers (and in some case of

the local government), most of the sites anticipated also savings in energy, water and raw material (resulting in

financial savings). But afterwards, by taking these issues seriously environmental aspects were addressed.

3.2 The Development of EMAS on the European Level

When negotiating EMAS in the early 90s, sustainability was only one conceptual root among others. The

European Commission had taken up ideas developed in the world of business for internal environmental audits

but had to give up the idea of passing a compulsory environmental audit. The regulation as passed in 1993

allowed for the voluntary participation by industrial sites. But participating sites had to make a number of

internal steps before being validated by an external verifier and officially registered. Member states were obliged

to establish systems for accreditation and supervision of environmental verifiers and for registering validated

sites but they got a high degree of discretion.14

In the Article 19 Committee (established by Article 19 of the EMAS regulation) and various networks

surrounding it, Commission officials, national delegations and other relevant, non-government or semi-

government players co-operated in implementing the scheme. Particular emphasis has to be put on the open

access relevant parties had to this decision making arena which was at that time unusual for decision making in

DG XI and which served as an example for other departments in DG XI. In working over details such as how to

define core terms of the scheme and how to operationalise them for practical application and many other

questions they were very active in allowing for a common European approach to the implementation of EMAS.

At the same time, various aspects of the system were evaluated, and in operationalising and evaluating the

scheme a number of lessons were learned with regard to the revision of the scheme. Many of these lessons

learned in the Article 19 Committee found their way into early drafts of a revised regulation (EMAS II) which

included most of the major changes of the new regulation passed in early 2001.

The revision of the EMAS directive began in 1997 with consultation of parties involved in the framework of the

Article 19 Committee. Further consultation of interested parties followed after a first informal proposal had been

drafted in late 1997. A first official proposal was presented in autumn 1998. The core modifications proposed

14 One can argue that EMAS addresses quite well the “need for adaptability in EU environmental policy design and implementation” (Glachant 2001). On the one hand the directive prescribes strict procedures for its application but on the other hand it offers member states enough discretion to reach the intended policy effects by addressing the divergent national condition which are important for making the scheme work.

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were a closer alignment of EMAS to the international standard for environmental management systems, ISO

14001, an extension of the scheme beyond the industrial sector, and improvement of holder involvement and of

the public image of the scheme.

After the coming into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, the European Parliament participated according to co-

decision procedure. In its first reading (April 1999), the EP proposed almost 60 modifications. Among many

other aspects, the EP pushed for a stronger involvement of interested parties (particularly employees) and for a

number of stipulations for strengthening the credibility of the scheme (stronger demand for legal compliance,

BAT – “best available technique” – and stricter training profile for verifiers). Furthermore it demanded that the

environmental statement would have to be presented in a printed version and that minimum requirements for its

content be adopted by the Commission.

Since many of the modifications proposed by the European Parliament seemed acceptable neither to the

Commission nor to the Council, EMAS II had to go into conciliation procedure. After quite some tri-partite

negotiation in the framework of pre-conciliation, a compromise could be reached in November 2000. In this

compromise the Parliament was quite successful with many of its demands.

Parallel to the negotiation of EMAS II that took much longer than initially planned, the Commission started

elaborating several guidance documents in the Article 19 Committee, most of them explicitly mentioned in the

new regulation, so that the regulation would be operational in the moment it was adopted. Guidance has been

drafted on the entity to be registered, the content of the environmental statement, the use of the EMAS logo,

employee participation and the identification of environmental aspects and assessment of their significance.

Some preliminary conclusions can be drawn on the interrelationship between participation and sustainability in

the context of decision-making on EMAS at the European level.

Although the main conceptual roots of EMAS are older than the sustainability debate, EMAS I was considered

to be an innovative policy tool at the time of its adoption because it reflected a number of ideas from the

sustainability debate. Thus, EMAS can be seen as a tool for achieving (or at least working towards) sustainability

on company level.

During implementation, shortcomings of EMAS became clear with regard to general elements of the scheme as

well as in terms of participation and sustainability issues. Participation of holders (interested parties) was given

little emphasis and many environmental aspects of sustainability (such as products, indirect environmental

effects and supply chains) were not explicitly or adequately addressed.

The implementation of EMAS I in comitology allowed the majority of relevant holder groups to participate.

Major players (member states, environmentalists, trade unions and industry) were given the opportunity to

participate in the implementation, evaluation and reformulation in the Article 19 Committee. A wider net of

informal structures, consultations, workshops and seminars offered access to further relevant players. By

establishing this open, informal consultation process, the Commission offered opportunities for participation and

influence and gained a wide range of information based on experiences from specific holder groups. This has

had a major influence on the implementation and revision of EMAS.

During the revision of EMAS, a greater involvement of holders (interested parties) in the scheme was to a certain

extent already included in the first Commission proposal. The European Parliament, put a clear emphasis on

participation issues – be it by employees (and their representatives), special holder groups or by the general

public. A great emphasis was put on defining more clearly who the relevant holders are and how they could be

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integrated into the system. In the end, the Parliament – due to the powers it has in co-decision procedure – was

quite successful with its positions. The Council on the other hand – by making definitions and annexes more

precise and by delegating more detailed definition work to comitology – significantly improved the demand for

sustainability in the new regulation, e.g. by inserting a detailed list of indirect environmental effects (including

biodiversity). But the Parliament also improved sustainability issues by pushing for issues related to the

credibility of the scheme.

All in all it can be summarised that EMAS developed at the EU level in a governance arrangement, which can be

characterised as quite participatory in respect to the involvement of and horizontal interaction with a broad

spectrum of non-governmental actors. This can be related to a relatively high degree of self-reflexivity (and

learning) as well as a strengthening of legal prescriptions for the involvement of „interested parties“ in

implementing and applying EMAS at the site level. Nonetheless, it was the European Parliament strengthened by

the Amsterdam Treaty who became the crucial promoter of new participatory elements of EMAS II – not at least

vis a vis the Commission and the Council.

3.3 National Implementation: Great Britain, Greece, Germany

One reason for choosing Great Britain, Greece and Germany for analysing the implementation of EMAS was

that they vary considerably with regard to their traditions and patterns of environmental regulation. Whereas in

Britain the dominant approach has always placed emphasis on self-regulation and pragmatic negotiation between

the regulators and their addressees, in Germany environmental policy is characterised by a rigid regulatory

“command-and-control” approach, combined with a federal structure of responsibilities. In Greece, we have a

normative, legalistic regulatory policy combined with a more pragmatic approach in administrative practice of a

strongly centralised state. With regard to environmental management, Britain was the first country to develop a

national standard (BS 7750) for environmental management systems (April 1992), whilst neither Germany nor

Greece had gained any experiences with national schemes for environmental management when EMAS was

adopted at the European level. We considered these differences among other aspects (such as administrative

structure, environmental awareness and economic situation) to be relevant for the way in which EMAS was

received, i.e. transposed into national organisational structures and accepted by the business community in these

member states.

The first dimension of the implementation of EMAS concerned the establishment of systems for the

accreditation and supervision of verifiers (until April 1995) and the registration of sites (until July 1994).

In Great Britain where EMAS was perceived as something common no major problems occurred, since the

accreditation of verifiers was integrated into the already existing “National Accreditation Council for

Certification Bodies” (NACCB, later renamed into “UK Accreditation Service”/UKAS). Registration was placed

at the Department of the Environment. A consultative body (members were people from industry, local

government, the voluntary sector, the trade unions, the utilities, the accrediting body, an academic expert, a

verifier, the National Rivers Authority and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution) was established to offer

advice to the Department of the Environment in relation to EMAS. In 1998 the tasks of the competent body were

delegated to the IEA (Institute of Environmental Assessment).

In Germany, by way of contrast, EMAS was perceived as something uncommon. A major dispute arose on the

extent of government involvement in accreditation and registration activities with “environment” players

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(Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Agency, environmental groups and trade unions) favouring strong

government involvement and “business” players (Ministry of Economics, business associations) opposing it.

Only quite some time after the deadline in December 1995 an agreement has been found and the act necessary to

regulate all details for the application of EMAS by German sites could be passed. The registration of sites

became a task of the chambers and the accreditation of verifiers was placed with a body supported by business

(DAU) whereas a committee (UGA) placed beside the Federal Ministry of the Environment (composed of

representatives of federal and Länder government and of certain interest groups, mainly business, trade unions,

environmental groups and verifiers professional associations) elaborated the guidelines for accreditation.

In Greece, the EMAS machinery could not be completely established until 1998, mainly because of a general

lack of interest in the scheme and strong resistance on the side of the administrative system to delegate

responsibilities to non-governmental bodies. Accreditation is now carried out by the Hellenic Accreditation

Council (ESYD), founded already in 1994, being part of the Ministry for Development. Members of the Council

are representatives of Ministries, scientific and social bodies as well as of the industry. The competent body for

the registration of sites in Greece was founded only in 1998: The “EMAS committee” is composed of

representatives of four different Ministries.

Comparing the participation of holders in the accreditation and registration systems we have a pragmatic

approach in the UK, placing accreditation with the non-governmental accreditation body and creating an

advisory body to the Department of the Environment including most relevant holder groups. In Germany

registration was placed close to business, whereas accreditation is carried out by a non-governmental body, at

least under the vigilance of the government and given close, formal guidelines for their activities by the

mentioned mixed committee. Participation of relevant holders as well as of different territorial levels in this

committee is formally guaranteed. In Greece, both systems are placed extremely close to the state and little

access is offered to possibly interested parties.

With regard to the different ways and intensities of participation by companies in EMAS, the differences between the three countries could not be more striking.

The relatively low number in Greece can be explained mainly by three factors: First, the system for registration

has only been completely operational by 1998. Thus companies have been faced with uncertainty for a long

period. Second neither business nor local authorities or social groups have been explicitly interested in the

scheme. Third, of those companies interested in environmental management systems most prefer ISO 14001,

which was operational before EMAS and does not contain an obligation to publish internal data which is not

perceived as an advantage by many Greek companies.

The high number of EMAS sites in Germany came as a major surprise for many experts, especially because

business associations had been strongly opposed to the scheme in the phase of its negotiation and adoption. That

so many companies did go for EMAS has a number of reasons: The high regulatory burden in Germany made

EMAS seems to be an instrument to systematically address statutory obligations. At the same time, a trade-off

with regard to this burden seemed in reach (especially for larger sites in certain sectors, such as chemical

industry), since by certain branches of government chances for regulatory relief (with regard to inspections and

reporting duties) were offered if many companies go for EMAS. Additionally, a high level of public

environmental awareness made companies think that implementing EMAS would improve their image. Finally it

was the establishment of accreditation and registration bodies relatively “close to business” that made German

business trust in the scheme. However, since 1998 we can observe a decrease of newly registered sites in

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Germany, and about 10% of sites do not re-register. Disappointment with the little public popularity of the

scheme and with the extent of regulatory relief seems to be the reasons for that.

Given the fact that EMAS has been developed on the basis of BS 7750, more enthusiasm was expected on the

side of British companies. Even though growth of EMAS registered sites has been steady, the total number

remains all in all moderate. There are many companies that go for environmental management systems, but most

of them prefer ISO 14001, mainly because they operate on the international market.

This can lead us to the conclusion that aspects like the level of environmental awareness of the public – or more

specifically: the consumers and customers – as well as the marketing strategies of companies and the national

traditions of environment policy matter regarding the national application of EMAS. But additionally the way of

implementing EMAS in the member states seems to be important. This regards not only the timing of making

EMAS work through the required organisational setting. More importantly, the kind of this organisational

setting, i.e. its participatory features, seems to be important for the acceptance of EMAS by business (and local

authorities) as well as by other “interested parties” (like environmental NGOs) and its credibility by the general

public and consumers.

3.4 Concluding Remarks and Policy Implications

One goal of the research team was to draw conclusions in respect to policy implications, especially regarding the

participatory aspects of the instrument. Three different levels need to be distinguished: The European, the

national and the organisation/site level. On these three levels we like to summarise some policy implications for

different kinds of actors: governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the business

sector and its representations as well as employees and their trade unions.

Tab: 3.1: Policy Implications by Levels and Actors

Governmental organisations

Non-governmental organisations

Trade unions Business

EU-level 1

National level 2 4 6

Organisation/ site level




The numbers in the table cells refer to the following remarks:

1. For EU decision-making processes it can be demonstrated in the case of EMAS that comitology can lead to

deliberation provided that such committees are opened to a broader spectrum of societal actors. This can

improve the regulation in detail, which is important for its applicability and can increase the acceptance of

the instrument. But it goes without saying that in respect to applicability not at least preferences of the

addressees have to be taken into account, i.e. those of enterprises.

2. The same is true for the national governmental decisions: For the implementation of EMAS, it is important to

incorporate those collective actors who are important for its (societal) acceptance. This can help to develop,

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establish and improve new forms of government-market or market-civil society governance, inherent in the

instrument. In addition, the adoption of EMAS needs to be more positively encouraged and the benefits of

the scheme more widely communicated.

3. Local authorities (as well as local NGOs) should use EMAS as an instrument for interacting with firms. This

can offer an opportunity to communicate with enterprises about their environmental impacts on the local

living conditions. Furthermore, local authorities can use EMAS like private enterprises as an instrument of

environmental risk management as well as for innovations in respect to products, productions processes and

the organisational structure.

4. International and national (as well as local) NGOs may be concerned about the option that environmental

management systems can be used as an instrument of substitution (i.e. to substitute the control of enterprises

by governmental agencies through self-regulation). On the background that such systems are implemented

anyhow NGOs should promote EMAS instead of ISO 14001 because the first provides not only a more

stringent and publicly ordered scheme. It offers also more information about the specific application of the

scheme at the site level through the required publication of an environmental statement – and by this

requirement an option to look at the environmental performance of the participating enterprises and to react

on it publicly.

5. Trade unions on all levels should perceive and actively take EMAS as a instrument by which employees and

their representatives can reach more influence on innovation processes at the site level. This influence

acquired by EMAS can be used to improve working conditions in general and to contribute especially to job

enrichment (i.e. more qualified and more autonomous tasks of employees in the context of a re-structured

division of labour).

6. Umbrella and sector organisation of private business as well as chambers on the international and national

level should consider in their lobbying activity as well as under circumstances where they are directly

involved in the implementation of EMAS that “openness benefits”. Any release of control of enterprises by

governmental agencies (substitution) can only be expected if the scheme and its application at the site level

gets the reputation of being reliable and trustworthy in respect to self-regulation. The necessity to acquire

such a kind of legitimacy is related to proper rules and procedures securing their application. The same

applies to the acceptance of the scheme at the market i.e. by consumers and customers in particular. The

success of the scheme as a marketing instrument depends crucially on its reputation that environmental

management and auditing is taken seriously by the participating sites.

7. Enterprises (or addressed organisations) should perceive and use EMAS as an instrument for innovation in

the broader context of organisational change. This is demonstrated by the fact that in most of our case study

cases and in all cases, which can be highlighted as «good practice», environmental and quality management

go hand in hand. Environmental improvements and risk management should build the starting point but the

objectives should go beyond it. This is not at least important regarding expected cost savings. They occur, but

more or less in the long run and beyond savings in resources etc. The crucial point is that EMAS should be

used as an instrument for knowledge management and as a vehicle for the development of corporate

procedures. In this respect the participation of employees aiming at continuous learning and improvements

on the part of the employees becomes a focal point – and should be taken seriously by all organisations

interested in EMAS.

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4. Water Supply – A Potentially Open Network of Participatory Governance

4.1 Emblematic Waters

Water is emblematic of the connectedness of nature and society. Water and the management of the terrestrial

part of its circulation presents a seminal example of how ecological, physical, social, and political processes can

fuse together in the modes of organising, regulating, controlling, and/or accessing resources. Water, conceived as

a hydro-social cycle, constitutes an encompassing vector to such a degree that the ecological process of water

circulation can no longer meaningfully be abstracted from its mode of political and economic embeddedness.

The emblematic character of the hydro-social landscape is re-enforced, not only by the proliferation of conflicts

over water, but also by the often radical transformations that have taken place in the European water sector over

the past two decades. To excavate transformations in the water sector is to simultaneously investigate

transformations in the hydrological and social realms. In particular, such transformations embody and express

shifts in sustainability and participation. Water becomes a lens through which the new modes of governance can

be assessed.

First of all, an intense debate has raged recently over the potential physical limits to European water resources.

Concerns over water expressed themselves primarily in terms of questions of quality in northern Europe, notably

in Germany, the UK and the Scandinavian countries and of quantity in Southern European countries, notably

Spain, Italy and Greece. Furthermore, the perceived or real problems with present and potential future supply, in

close concert with a greater environmental sensitivity and the growing power of environmental movements

within civil society, has not only pushed water a few notches higher up the political agenda, but has resulted in

far-reaching changes in both the regulatory and institutional organisation of various aspects of the hydro-social


Since public/private boundaries have shifted and new considerations have entered the policy field, the

relationship between individuals or social groups and the mode of (water) governance has undergone profound

change, a change that echoes similar transformations in other domains of governing as well. In particular, the

new modes of (water) governance open up an arena for problematising the thorny relationship between society

on the one hand and its political expression through institutions that undertake public managerial and regulatory

tasks on the other. Put differently, the relationship between state and society, which is invariably precarious, is

posed here in new forms.

4.2 The Shifting Political-Economy of Water

A debate is raging about the potential for and the actual shifts towards privatisation. This debate often suggests

that privatisation is an inevitable and necessary means by which national policies can adapt to the requirements

imposed by a new global and de-regulated world economic order. Our case studies show, however, that, since

the inception of urban water systems in the 19th century, the urban hydro-social cycle has always been

characterised by shifting configurations of public-private partnerships (see Swyngedouw et al. 2002) and the co-

existence of forms of government and of governance. However, since the mid 1970s, a shift has taken place in

the state/private nexus in the water sector. This period (roughly starting with the global recession) is associated

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with the demise of state-led economic growth, and the subsequent transition to post-Fordist or flexible forms of

economic development and related forms of state guidance. The first point, then, is that whilst the water sector

has always used both public and private sectors, it moved dramatically towards the private sector following the

crisis of Fordism.

The second point is that privatisation was – with varying degrees of intensity between countries – seen as an

important mechanism for resolving the economic crisis of Fordism in general and, thus, also in the water sector.

Mounting economic problems – in the context of high social and investment spending – resulted in growing

fiscal difficulties for the national (and often also the local) state. The first political strategy for resolving the

crisis of Fordism was to reconsider the direction of state spending. This resulted in reduced expenditure on

welfare and an increased unwillingness to support debt-ridden industrial sectors or expensive infrastructure

programs. The water sector illustrates this clearly. Prior to the shift, the price of water was kept low and

infrastructure investments were also subsidised. The combination of an aging infrastructure in many European

cities and apparently unrelenting growth in domestic demand put an even greater pressure on state budgets.

Subsequently, national as well as local governments became increasingly unwilling to support those subsidies or

to invest in infrastructure. A second strategy for dealing with the crisis was to focus on competitiveness. By the

late 1970s and early 1980s, this was articulated around a quest for efficiency gains and greater productivity,

which were to be achieved by cutting red-tape, de-regulating the labour market, and enabling greater investment

flexibility. Political and economic processes within the EU itself contributed in important ways to this. The re-

assessment of the public/private nexus in the water sector occurred partly as a response from the part of the

member states, not so much to new European water legislation as – most importantly – to the necessity to

comply with the convergence criteria for admission to the monetary union. Adhering to these criteria induced a

shrinking of public sector spending and (in particular for the poorer member states) the ‘selling-off’ of public

assets. The Greek example is a case in point to illustrate this.

The third point is that existing governance arrangements were an obstacle to the rapid changes needed to address

the crisis of Fordism. The standard democratic channels of government (often infused by the presence of social

organisations such as unions) proved to be a considerable barrier for implementing swift policy-changes in the

1980s. The political-economic configuration has, consequently, changed in important ways, resulting in new

institutional arrangements (see below) that permit a more market-oriented politics that is in tune with profit-

making strategies to develop.

Fourth, investors began to search for new frontiers for capital investment. Nature in all its forms became part and

parcel of new accumulation strategies. Water presented itself as a possible new frontier to harness, as a potential

source for turning H2O into money and profit.

Fifth, and finally, the growing environmental problems and, consequently, the proliferating number of actual and

potential conflicts in the management and regulation of the water cycle proved to be a serious challenge for

traditional forms of organisation and implementation of water-related activities. Systems of governance had to

become more sensitive to these issues, particularly in a context in which environmental groups within civil

society became more vocal and powerful. Such groups ensured that questions of restricting or controlling

demand (demand management), controlling pollution and protecting sensitive ecologies, were clearly heard. The

internalisation of all these tensions within a fundamentally state-owned and state-controlled sector like water

became increasingly difficult (Swyngedouw 1998).

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The combined effect of these processes and dynamics resulted in a shift, both in practice and ideology/discourse,

from a state-led water sector to one that is more in tune with the imperatives of a competitive privatised

economy. This shift was more dramatic in some countries than others, but even where the sector was not

formally privatised, the perceived end-goal of the sector’s structure was repositioned as to be more attuned to

globalised market forces. In other words, a new hegemonic meta-governance discourse emerged in the water

sector, which was articulated around fiscal prudence, competitiveness, privatisation, the commodification of

nature and environmental anxieties (Hajer 1995). In some cases, actual privatisation has taken place (such as in

the UK), in other cases the water sector was partly privatised (as in Greece). In some contexts, publicly owned

companies are required to act strategically, managerially, operationally, and organisationally as if they were

private companies (as in some German water supplies). In addition, water businesses are often now part of

(global) multi-location water companies or multi-utility conglomerates.

Clearly, the privatisation process has had (and will continue to have) profound implications for the water sector

and beyond. Moreover, in this new marketised environment the question of what constitutes sustainability is

radically different compared with a more collective perspective. Moreover, the institutional and regulatory

environment, including the parameters of who participates and who will be excluded from participation, has

changed. Our case studies show, with varying degrees of intensity and levels of implementation, a tendency

towards the commodification of water, the marketisation of water supply and the liberalisation of the water

sector. But, regardless of the actual institutional form of organisation of the water sector (i.e. private, public, or

mixed), the new stage in the commodification of water that started in earnest in the 1980s has by now become

almost hegemonic. In the three cases the situation concerning privatisation is as follows:

In Greece there is an increasing trend towards privatisation or marketisation. Recently, some private ownership

(49%) was introduced in Athens Water Supply Company (EYDAP S.A). The water utility of Athens is under

discussion for further privatisation (51%) within the following years. However, the arm of the former water

company responsible for water abstraction and storage remains publicly owned (EYDAP Assets). It is planned

that EYDAP Assets will sell water to the multi-owned Athens water company (EYDAP S.A). The arising

question concerns the process of defining the price of this water transaction. In addition, there are several other

crucial issues that have not been defined yet. The future pricing policy has not been spelled out. The expansion

of the supply system and hence of the customers is planned for the water company. However, there is no

indication for the respective abstraction policy and the relevant conflicts and cost it may cause. Simultaneously,

the effects of the adoption of the European Directive as far as prices are concerned are unpredictable.

As a result, it is clear that the new institutional framework (privatisation) in combination with the European

directives (full cost pricing) create new evolutions in the supply, demand and allocation of water through the

relevant market. It seems that the next period will be a period of research and innovative policies on certain

issues as the following ones:

- Definition of water prices and evolution of water company revenues

- Definition of the long run targets of water company

- Definition of the allocation of rules and participation of the actors concerned

In the UK the involved actors and the general pattern is different as the British water suppliers have a long

tradition of public and private initiatives. In 1988 the public owned Regional Water Authorities transformed into

private water companies. Each supplier split into an unregulated holding company, and a regulated supplier of

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water and sewerage services. Since then the water suppliers have retained this form. The success of privatisation

in the UK (and London – our case study region) is debatable. It was expected that privatisation would accelerate

infrastructure investment. However, although Thames Water announced considerable investment to reline old

pipelines, the water losses remained considerable, suggesting that more capital investment in the infrastructure is

needed. Additionally, privatisation did not manage to increase competition and press prices downwards.

Although, in other utilities, competition has helped to drive down prices, the cost of water has risen substantially

since privatisation. In 1999 the regulator set a reduction in prices as a target. The industry responded with cut

backs in investments, and staff redundancies. In London, the trends are not of withdrawal from the private sector

but of intensified competition over ownership of the holding companies. In 2000, a German company bought

Thames, while the smaller private companies are also subject to take-over.

The management of water supplies in Germany is decentralised and administration at the national scale is

limited. There is a wide range of different arrangements in different municipalities with varying degrees of

private sector participation. During the last decades there have been shifts towards greater private sector

involvement in water supplies. However, the public sector has continued to play the major role in water

management and there has not been a substantial move towards full privatisation. In 1998, 63% of water supply

companies were publicly owned, while 36% were public private partnerships. Private involvement in wastewater

disposal is limited, as it is not taxed when it is organised through the public sector. In the German context,

liberalisation (or deregulation) of the water sector usually refers to federal moves within the sector as a whole.

Privatisation refers to increasing commercial participation at a municipal level. The distinction is important

because some actors (for example the Green Party and the German Council of Environmental Advisors) are

tolerant about privatisation, but are far more reluctant on liberalisation.

4.3 Water Governance and the Re-scaling of the Power of Water Institutions

A host of new institutional or regulatory bodies have been set-up that have considerable decision-making

responsibilities, but which operate in a shady political arena with little accountability and only limited forms of

democratic control. These institutional changes have invariably been defined as part of a wider shift from

government to governance (Swyngedouw, 2000). Whereas in the past, water management and water policy were

directly or indirectly under the control of a particular governmental scale, i.e. either at the national state and/or

the local (municipal) level, in recent years there has been a spiralling proliferation of new water-related

institutions, bodies, and actors that are involved in policy-making and strategic planning at a variety of

geographical scales.

At a European scale, the Commission has undoubtedly increased its power to steer water policy. Successive

generations of water-related directives and regulations culminating in the tortuous process of agreeing on an

integrated EU policy in the form of the WFD have enabled the commission to become the defining scale of

meta-governance as well as of second order governing within this sector. The political history of the successive

stages of negotiating the framework directive suggests a rather tumultuous path in which various actors (such a

national governments, water providers, industry, the agricultural sector, the Commission, the European

Parliament, NGOs of a variety of kinds) played different roles. Their influence has changed over time. What is

important in this context is the recognition that the ‘jumping of scale’ in terms of regulating water-related

matters from the national to the European level paralleled not only the formation of new institutional forms of

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governance, but simultaneously altered the scope and focus of (a) regulation and (b) the participation of civil

society groups and political constituencies. In the case of the WFD the result is a directive, which – though it did

not satisfy all environmental NGOs – undoubtedly took a more radically pro-environmental form (with a primary

concern of water quality over quantity) than earlier economic and consumer oriented concerns of national

regulation. Water pricing (full infrastructure and environmental cost recovery) was singled out as one of the key

means for delivering better quality water for Europe (in addition to the establishment of river basin authorities)

and is, indeed, put forward as one of the key themes for the implementation phase. This reflected the

choreography of the participants. Beside the EU institutions (the Commission, the Parliament, and the Council of

Ministers) responsible for decision making, certain economic sectors (the fertilizer industry, the chemical

industry, agriculture, the water industry) and certain environmental lobby organisation (such as the EEB)

participated, albeit within a variable power geometry that changed over time. In contrast, consumer or workers

organisations remained far less involved in the theatres of consultation and participation, primarily because they

had to balance the allocation of their limited resources between engaging in water policies and other arenas of

political and social action at the European level

Moreover, the implementation of the WFD by member states (second order governance) requires re-enforcing or

establishing sub-national forms of governance (at the level of the river basin). While there is call for inclusive

participation at that level, the modalities of such a participatory network of river basin management were vague

at the time when the directive was passed. As national states constitute the level that has to comply with the

WFD, the subsidiarity principle points to the national states as the arena through which the form and content of

these sub-national forms of governance should be decided. Whilst the Commission is prepared to host working

parties to negotiate implementation for pragmatic reasons, the statutory expectation is that member states will

establish structures of local participation (WFD Article 14). The overall result, therefore, is a ‘glocalisation’

(Swyngedouw 1989) of the national government, both upwards to the EU level and downwards to the sub-

national level. This results in a more complex articulation of varying geometries of scale-dependent forms of

governance. In sum, national governmental regulation is simultaneously up-scaled and down-scaled, with an

accompanying change in the choreographies of power, both between and within institutions.

Finally, privatisation itself of course results in much greater power and autonomy for the companies themselves

in terms of strategic and investment decisions. Privatisation de facto means taking away some control from the

public sector and transferring this to the private sector. This not only changes decision-making procedures and

strategic developments, but also affects less tangible elements such as access to information and data.

In Greece, the new developments on the water supply sector have differentiated the role of the key actors and/or

their level and type of involvement in the decision making process. Different actors have different opinions on

exploitation of new or alternative water sources. Accordingly, new actors have emerged because of the

privatisation of the water sector. Policies such as the water pricing and water resource management are not

regarded anymore as an exclusively state’s affair. Additionally, the total area covered by EYDAP will be

expanded and the infrastructure will be improved allowing new players to enter the water sector. Demand side

management will likely and gradually replace traditional supply oriented policies, changing the traditional role of

the state and of the relevant actors. Consequently, the power relation between the key actors has been changed

considerably. Co-operation and collaboration are much more desirable than in the past, although conflicts and

disputes in the decision making process are not rare. The fragmentation and lack of coordination of policies

among the involved actors, especially at the central state level, in the decision making process remain an

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important characteristic of the Greek case. However, an undergoing process of co-ordinated efforts emerged,

aiming to reduce such phenomena and facilitate different types of participation and collaboration. The

requirements for legal compliance with EU directives and especially with the WFD have enhanced elements of

sustainability, innovation and new forms of participation regarding the water policies.

The management of water supplies in Germany is decentralised and administration at the national scale is

limited. The national water act only creates a framework. It is completed and concretised through water acts of

the individual states (Länder). Within the states municipalities or local governments are responsible for all stages

of the urban hydrocycle. Consequently, Germany has a very large number of small and medium sized water

suppliers. The municipalities can choose how to organise water services. As a result there is a wide range of

different arrangements in different municipalities with varying degrees of private sector participation.

In the UK the organisational structure of the water sector is based on deregulation and private initiatives.

However, a public body (Ofwat) regulates the industry in the interest of consumers and ensures competition.

Responsibility for pollution control and water resource management was entrusted firstly to a public body, the

National Rivers Authority (NRA) and then to the Environment Agency which acted as the ‘environmental

regulator’. The Drinking Water Inspectorate provides the surveillance of drinking water quality, while the British

Government retains a role in water management, through the appointment of the regulators and as the authors of

the regulatory framework. Government provides financial aid and control to the environmental regulator,

designates water protection zones and makes drought orders, approves charging schemes, charges for water

abstraction licenses and discharges consents etc. Until 1994 the water sector was subject to a degree of

protectionism. Since these restrictions were lifted the water sector has become of interest to foreign investors.

Another important trend has been the diversification of the water companies into other sectors and the increasing

emphasis they place on aspects such as waste disposal

4.4 The Internationalisation of Water Governance

The supply of water is increasingly embedded in processes of economic globalisation. Whether publicly or

privately owned, water businesses are expanding their operations geographically and they have become involved

in an international competitive process. In the case of privatised companies, furthermore, their capital structure is

also becoming increasingly internationalised. For example, after the UK government sold its ‘golden share’ in

December 1994, it opened the way for a frenzied spree of mergers and international takeovers. Many UK water

companies are actively acquiring water operations elsewhere in the world, while British companies have been

subject to take-overs from foreign competitors. For instance, Thames Water (London’s water supply company)

was acquired in September 2000 by the German multi-utility RWE. The part-privatisation of the Athens water

company turned EYDAP into a stock market listed company and, hence, subject to the vagaries of national and

international capital markets. At a global scale, an accelerated process of concentration and consolidation is

taking place that is rapidly leading to a fairly oligopolistic economic structure of water utility companies, with

two (French) companies controlling about 70% of the global privatised water market (Hall, 2001). This tendency

has been further accentuated by the recent collapse of ENRON, one of the leading global multi-utility

companies. Aside from the difficulties of regulating global companies (particularly with respect to

environmental and social standards, investments, maintenance and infrastructure upkeep), this trend raises the

spectre of increasing geographical strategies around investments and about the spread of activities, the flow of

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water-capital, and the portfolio of holdings. In addition, it opens the possibility of withdrawal of water

companies from particular places and sites, permits strategic cherry-picking and might even lead to bankruptcies

or liquidation of activities. This might lead to a situation in which the necessary provision of water for more

problematic (i.e. costly and difficult to sustain) areas has to be undertaken by the public sector, while the private

sector picks places that optimise corporate profitability.

In all of our case studies, increasing attention is paid to demand management. This is mainly a result of the

growing awareness of the risk of dwindling water resources, which has intensified the political and social debate

about the ‘scarcity’ of water, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. As Kaïka (1999) has pointed out, this

discursive built-up of a particular water narrative and ideology, particularly noticeable during, for example, the

drought-related crisis conditions in Athens in the early nineties, serves specific political and economic objectives

and policies. A climate of actual, pending, or imagined water crisis not only serves to facilitate further

investment in the expansion of the water-supply side (as in the case of Athens), it also fuels and underpins drives

towards commodification. While the price signal is hailed as a prime mechanism to manage ‘scarcity’, the

discursive construction of water as a ‘scarce’ good in environmental terms becomes an important part of a

strategy towards commodification, if not privatisation. In this context, strange political alliances are forged

between free marketeers and parts of the environmental movement. The environmental NGOs are concerned

about the increasing (socially constructed) scarcity of water and they are very effective in disseminating their

message through the media to the wider public. This contributes to the emergence of a greater willingness-to-pay

on the part of the consumer and the introduction of the market mechanism as the preferred signal to allocate the

resource to different social groups. Indeed such a mechanism is seen as the only strategy available to allocate a

commodified resource (Princen and Finger 1994). It is, therefore, significant that the main debates within the

water institutions that have embraced participatory practices revolve around the intermediation of environmental

interests and market driven imperatives. The consequences of this tendency can be seen at local or national

levels. Under-represented social groups or actors, who are excluded from the ensembles of governance that are

brought together to discuss environmentally friendly marketisation, are becoming increasingly oppositional.

Consumer discontent, non-payment of bills (in the UK or Barcelona), a variety of extra-institutional protest in

Spain, or the pan-European Blue March in August 2001 of discontented French and Spanish farmers,

environmentalists, and worker organisations all attested to this.

Table 4.1. summarises and schematically presents the main tendencies outlined in this section (the re-scaling of

governance, tendencies towards commodification and an emerging internationalisation) and the varying degrees

of intensity in which they take place in the UK, Greece, and Germany.

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Table 4.1: Shifts in influence in the UK, German and Greek water sector

a) UK State Market Civil Society

Supra-national 3 4

National 2

Local 1

1. Shift from State to Market at Privatisation 2. Emergence of national regulators at privatisation 3. Influence of EU over environmental regulation 4. Globalisation of the water industry

b) Greece State Market Civil Society

EU 1 3


Local 2

1. increasing importance of the EU is linked with increasing importance of the national level

2. privatisation: increasing integration of private companies and shareholders

3. economical up-scaling through liberalisation and part-privatisation

c) Germany State Market Civil Society

EU 1 3


Federal/regional 2

Local 1. increasing importance of the EU is linked with the decreasing

importance of the national level 2. privatisation: municipalities loose influence through increasing

integration of private companies and shareholders 3. economical up-scaling through mergers and effects of the


Very Important, Fairly Important, Less Important

Increasingly Important, Static, Decreasingly Important

4.5 Policy Recommendations and Trends in the Context of Participatory


The research on the water sector has identified the emergence of new forms of governance, with their particular

configurations of participation. However, the thesis of the transition in environmental regulation from

(democratically accountable) statist command and control to horizontal networked forms of participatory

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governance has to be qualified in a number of ways. First of all, the national or local state and its forms of

political/institutional organisation and articulation with society remain important. In fact, the state takes centre

stage in the formation of the new institutional and regulatory configurations associated with governance. This

configuration is directly related to the requirements of governability in the context of a greater role of both

private economic agents as well as more vocal civil society based groups. The result is a complex hybrid form of

government/governance (Warleigh, 2000).

Second, the non-normative models of governance as non-hierarchical, networked and (selectively) inclusive

forms of governability, cannot be sustained in the light of the empirical evidence resulting from our water supply

case studies, which points to a series of highly contradictory or conflicting tendencies. While governance

promises, and on occasion, delivers a new relationship between the act of governing and society, and, thus, re-

articulates and re-organises the traditional tension between the realisation of the Rousseauian ideal in immanent

forms of governing on the one hand and the imposition of a transcendental Hobbesian leviathan on the other,

there are also significant counter-tendencies. In particular, tensions arise between:

- the possibilities and promises of enhanced democratisation through participatory governance versus the

actualities of non-representational forms of autocratic technocracy, through the sole inclusion of ‘experts’.

- the extension of holder participation as partially realised in some new forms of governances versus the

consolidation of beyond-the-state arenas of power-based interest intermediation

- the improved transparency associated with horizontal networked interdependencies versus the grey

accountability of hierarchically articulated, and non-formalised and procedurally legitimised, associations of


These tensions arise particularly prevalent and acute in the context of processes of the re-scaling of the levels of

governance. The up-scaling, down-scaling, and externalisation of functions traditionally associated with the scale

of the national state have resulted in the formation of institutions and practices of governance that all express the

above contradictions. This is clearly notable in the context of the formation (and probably implementation) of the

WFD on the one hand and in the construction of the necessary institutional and regulatory infrastructure that

accompanies processes of commodification of water on the other. Needless to say, this ambiguous shift from

government to a hybrid form of government/governance, combined with the emergence of a new hierarchically

nested and articulated ‘gestalt of scale’, constitutes an important and far-reaching innovation in the management

of the hydro-social process.

Third, the processes of constructing these new choreographies of governance are associated with the rise to

prominence of new social actors, the consolidation of the presence of others, the exclusion or diminished power

position of groups that were present in earlier forms of government and the continuing exclusion of other social

actors who have never been included. The new ‘gestalt of scale’ of water governance has undoubtedly given a

greater voice and power to environmental organisations. It has consolidated and enhanced the power of groups

associated with the drive towards marketisation, and diminished the participatory status of groups associated

with social-democratic or anti-privatisation strategies. Some groups, such as, for example, women’s

organisations, migrant groups, and the like, remain conspicuously absent from arenas of governance that directly

relate to questions of sustainability.

The result is the emergence at all scales of a meta-governance of water articulated around an environmentally

friendly marketisation, albeit a consensus which is contested by some of those who are excluded from the

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ensembles of governance. This ideological (or discursive) tendency suggests that within-the-state forms of

government have been partially replaced by interest intermediation, which operates by means of technocratic

management in the institutions of governance beyond-the-state. Of course, this, in turn, reflects the shifting

geometries and positions of power that are associated with the new configurations of partial participation. Such

innovative procedures of organisational reform, including a partial, but selective, enlargement of the

participatory domain, shape the focus of the sustainability debate in decisive ways. The resulting practice is

centred on a relative physical-ecological sustainability (pursued by ecologists), combined with an overarching

meta-objective to maintain sustainable economic growth and profits. This operates through the exclusion

(discursively and practically) of groups advocating different forms of sustainability or whose focus with respect

to sustainability revolves around constructing different forms of socio-ecologically sustainable communities.

If innovative and sustainable participation is to be achieved the European Union and the respective actors across

the multi-level governance scale should address and adopt common responses to the following interrelated and

interdependent set of issues:

a) Clear and transparent procedures that establish the lines of control and hierarchy between scales of

governance, including clear procedures for identifying and including relevant ‘holders’ need to be formulated

and implemented. In addition, the relations of power and authority between horizontal networked forms of

governance and traditional ‘statist’ forms of command and control need to be established and clearly


b) Criteria and mechanisms that define and regulate ‘entitlements to participate’ need to be established. It is not

sufficient to leave this to either the autonomous forces of civil society based pressure groups or the selective

randomness of the present process of ‘invitations to participate’ as practiced by many of the elites in national

and European arenas of governance.

c) The ‘entitlements to participate’ have to be accompanied by clear and formalised procedures of defining the

content of entitlement. Power positions vary decidedly on whether participation involves consultation,

intermediation, and/or actual exercise of power (by means of a voting system, consensus formation, or the

like). Entitlements to participate need to be complemented by guarantees of effectively sharing power.

d) The inclusion of participants needs to be accompanied by clear and verifiable lines of representation and by

transparent and reproducible mechanisms of accountability and feedback.

e) Finally, effective and sustainable participation must take into consideration the power choreographies

between participating partners, not only within the institutional setting, but also their power position within

civil society. Power within civil society invariably translates, unless mitigated, into systemic power within

governance, a tendency that becomes more outspoken in the absence of clear channels or procedures of


Closer to the empirical terrain we may distinguish a series of positive and negative developments on the core of

participatory governance context, which are present in most of the cases, though in different degrees depending

on the specific combination of prerequisites with the orientation and the capacities of the actors (‘holders’).

On the positive side we may include the fact that: (a) negotiation and procedural approaches have become key

elements and prerequisites for most policy decisions and implementation. Local communities are not excluded –

at least to a certain extent – and usually they influence the decisions and obtain compensation through

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bargaining, for most policies with certain impacts on their interests, and (b) increasingly in the water policy there

is some heterarchy in decision-making and implementation processes.

On the side of negative developments regarding participation we may refer to the following: (a) minor or in

some cases major conflicts are likely to emerge in the near future about the allocation of water resources, (b)

concerning water issues there is still lack of interest from environmental and other NGOs to be involved, and (c)

the trends for further privatisation of the water sector may lead to a series of new conflicts.

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5. Concluding Remarks

5.1 Some Crucial Findings

The most crucial – but maybe not surprising – finding is that the specific societal context in which the cases are embedded is of fundamental importance.

In the case of EMAS it has to be recognised that it is one management scheme alongside others, which are addressing quality management, health and safety and so on. Although some organisations focus only on environmental issues, whether for environmental reasons or for marketing or public relations purposes, the growing importance of such schemes can be seen in the context of new technologically determined options and requirements to reorganise the division of labour and to structure the organisation less hierarchically. Insofar as such options and requirements are realised – in line with a new “industrial divide” in the industrial sector and through the introduction of New Public Management ideas in the public sector as well – particular difficulties arise for management which can be labelled as the tension between autonomy and control. On the one hand, autonomy has to be “granted” from management to parts/units of the organisations (if not to each employee) to achieve full efficiency and effectiveness, and on the other hand management has to remain in control in order to know what is going on in “their” organisation. Management systems – like EMAS – can offer a solution. They promote more decentralised responsibilities, more horizontal interactions and more involvement by employees, but they also secure for the management – through the systematic gathering and documentation of what is being done in different parts of the organisation – evaluation and control of what is going on. Furthermore, through systems of continuous reporting and documentation, the management can access decentralised developed dispersed knowledge, and it can ensure by these systems that such knowledge is not lost when “holders” disappear or try to hold back information. Under such conditions participatory governance arrangements at the site level can be created through EMAS contributing to innovative and sustainable outcomes.

The conditions in the case of water supply are not so favourable for the creation and development of participatory governance and related opportunities for achieving sustainable and innovative outcomes. Against the background of the commodification of water and the liberalisation of the water sector the options for governing water supply in a participatory way are limited. In other words, in a context where a shift from government to governance parallels the marketisation of water supply, a business-oriented way of co-ordinating societal interactions is more likely to be successful than a new participatory way of policy-making that goes beyond “traditional” forms of governance. Furthermore, the trends in the water sector go hand in hand with what was highlighted as a re-scaling of policy-making. This implies shifts of policy domains from the national to supra-national and sub-national levels, though the former is more likely than the latter. These are not the kind of conditions in which participatory governance arrangements can flourish.

To sum up: Our two case study areas demonstrate that the much commented upon move from government to governance – and the related extension of governing activities far beyond a state-centred view of policy-making – does not imply that the chances to extend participatory policymaking or to broaden the involvement of societal actors are equally distributed over different policy fields. On the contrary, the conditions for the development of participatory governance, as well as the range of societal actors involved are very varied.

Other findings from the empirical research highlight the importance of EU decision making not at least in respect to “framing” (Goffman 1974) policy developments by what is called meta-governance. This was demonstrated by the debates about the EMAS directives (EMAS I and EMAS II) and the Water Framework Directive (WFD)

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and their implementation. In respect to the importance of national institutional settings it could be argued that the old fashioned thesis “institutions matter” was confirmed, and that there was a process of “Europeanisation” according to the concept of “goodness of fit” (see Knill/Lenschow 1998; Börzel 1999 and for an overview Héritier 2001). But such a conclusion would be too simple. The domestic policy processes in the case studies showed that actors were not just objects guided by institutional structures and/or moved by overarching “driving forces”. Against the background of a specific institutional context, they develop and pursue (as subjects) their policy objectives through goal-oriented interactions. This becomes clear where in one case (Greece) EMAS was “isolated” and only “symbolically” implemented without any real policy change, while in another case (Germany) EMAS was used to achieve a “material policy change”, although the process of change started from “isolated implementation”.15 The same can be shown through the different national responses to developments in the case of water supply, where in Germany municipalities and “their” water supply companies seemed to be able to maintain their important role (also in the form of public-private partnerships), environmental NGOs acquired a remarkable degree of influence, and locally determined agreements for improving the availability and quality of water resources were reached. Finally, “local specificities” not least “soft” or informal features – like the kinds of relationship between actor– became clearly quite crucial. These were specific circumstances where policy options or instruments could be used in a particular way. In the case of EMAS the importance of “good leadership” and trust were identified as important “soft” features, not only for accomplishing participatory governance but also for achieving innovation in products, production processes and/or the overall structure of an organisation as well as for addressing different dimensions of sustainability.

5.2 Opportunities and Risks of Participatory Governance

As a general conclusion (and starting from the remarks at the end of chapter 4) it is important to underline a series of opportunities and risks that are associated with the introduction of the new forms of participatory governance and many of which have been either documented or suggested by the case studies on Water supply systems and EMAS in Germany, Greece and the UK. The opportunities and risks are directly related to the prospects of success and failure of the new forms and their appreciation is a necessary step before their critical rejection or adoption as a tool for the promotion of societal goals. Three types of opportunities and three types of risks are presented below as a means to summarize and respond to the main questions of why, who and what of the new participatory forms of governance.

Types of opportunities:

1. The opportunity of widening the forms of representation through governance. Given the growing crisis of the political institutions and the democratic deficit in all levels of political representation, (bureaucratic and authoritarian hierarchical decision making, majority rights, general vote etc.), new forms of governance (e.g. EMAS), based on negotiation and bargaining, broadens legitimacy through the involvement of new types of actors and through new forms of interest intermediation (e.g. committees, new bodies etc.)

15 For discussions of the concept of “domestic dynamics and responses to EC decisions” as well as for explanations of the phrases in quotation marks, see Lang (2002).

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2. The opportunity of broadening participation, which gives empowerment and access to holders, with or without legal entitlements, can offer effective policy outcomes, which cannot be derived with the conventional forms of government. The new co-operative partnerships, oriented on common tasks, go beyond legalistic rights, supporting co-operation and widening forms of participation (e.g. at the European, national and local level).

3.The opportunity of continuous learning and improvement. New governance arrangements, give new opportunities for permanent learning of the different actors involved. Learning and awareness refers to all holders, independently of the success or failure of the policy outcome. Different actors, with different history and power, test their knowledge, arguments and powers and learn from each other in the new forms of participation.

Types of risks

1. The risk of non-accountability. This is associated with the diffusion and probably dilution of responsibilities within ad hoc governance agreements where unequal partners participate in a process of uneven distribution of costs and benefits of a given policy. This dilution of responsibility makes the participants non-accountable in both political and legal terms. Non-accountability feeds the temptation to pursue targets that no actor acting on each own could support. This leads us to the increased danger of the reproduction of unevenness of power of participants, which are entering the participation procedure based on different forms of legitimacy and power (e.g. legal entitlement, de facto power).

2. The risk of compartmentalisation of policymaking and policy implementation. This risk stems also organically from the fact that the new governance arrangements are justified on a basis of abstract principles and then are implemented in many different sectoral and territorial levels where they are interpreted and adapted in an ad hoc manner. This implies the multiplication of inconsistencies and the undermining of synergies between particular policies that become apparent in their parallel pursuit within the same territory without any ex ante, ongoing or ex post assessment of their combined impact upon the territory. Furthermore, the danger of “compartmentalisation” of policy increases when we focus only on the fragmented policy areas, or particular policy domains, in which new forms of governance emerge, without examining the general political and socio-economic context, which undergoes drastic changes towards a shift from public to private sector.

3. The risk of instrumentalisation of policy. The emphasis of problem solving and the “effectiveness” of policy outcomes, combined with the dominance of a managerial rational and entrepreneurial spirit, may underestimate important aspects of political legitimacy and social justice. The danger consists in the overestimation of the internal and external functionality of the policy process and the dominance of a technocratic knowledge (e.g. “managerial” assessment of policy outcome, benchmarking etc.), to the cost of democratic participation and the empowerment of civil society.

Against these types of risk we should think of the possible benefits stemming out of the mobilization of many until now underused or isolated individual and organisational resources

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and the achievement of consensus and active participation of an increasing percentage of the population. In order to increase the possibility of the positive outcome we have to rethink the important aspects of democracy, participation, political legitimacy and social justice, not only in fragmented and specific policy fields, but in all policy-making frameworks (in which the state still plays a crucial role) and at all levels (especially at the global level, where the lack of political institutions and democratic participation is very important). However, the situation is characterized by the rather high improbability of success despite the fact that the meaning of success itself becomes conditional upon the achievement of the fragmented partial targets of each particular governance agreement.

As the state command and control practices had already accumulated a long list of failures while the market led solutions have been seeing the fast multiplication of their own failures, the still inconclusive results from our theoretical insights and empirical findings plus a re-interpretation of our initial values and motivation point towards the importance of the flexible coexistence of old and new forms of government and governance including state administrative hierarchies, market led solutions and participatory governance initiatives. This is equivalent to a plea for selective re-regulation of particular stages in policy making and policy implementation in order to achieve the optimum combination of efficiency and democracy through participatory governance.

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6. Further publications arising from the project

Annexes to the main report (to obtain a copy write to:

Erik Swyngedouw et al.: Final Report: Water

Hubert Heinelt and Randall Smith (eds.): Sustainability, Innovation and Participatory Governance: A Cross-National Study of the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (will be published by Leske & Burdich: Opladen)

Books (copies can be purchased by writing to publisher Leske & Burdich:


Grote, Jürgen R./Gbikpi, Bernard (eds.): Participatory Governance. Political and Societal Implications, Leske & Burdich: Opladen 2002

Heinelt, Hubert/Getimis, Panagiotis/Kafkalas, Grigoris/Smith, Randall/ Swyngedouw, Erik (eds.): Participatory Governance in Multi-Level Context. Concepts and Experience, Leske & Burdich: Opladen 2002 (forthcoming)

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Implications, Opladen: Leske & Budrich. Habermas, J. 1992: Faktizität und Geltung. Beiträge zur Diskurstheorie des Rechts und des

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Knill, C./Lenschow, A. 1998a: Coping with Europe. The Impact of British and German Administrations on the Implementation of EU Environmental Policy, in: Journal of European Public Policy, Vol. 5, No. 4, 595-614.

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