(P32) The Quest for Sustainability: Promises and Challenges of Participatory Governance
Wai-Fung Lam, Director, Policy for Sustainability Lab, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Winnie Wai Yi Law, Associate Director and Principal Lecturer, Policy for Sustainability Lab, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Participatory governance has often been considered a most appropriate regime to deliver sustainability or environmental objectives which requires collective actions at multiple levels and scales. While participatory governance has an inclusive orientation which promises shared benefits, citizen empowerment, dialogues between stakeholders, and consensual decision-making, these promises, however, were not always delivered. While an extant literature exists to describe participatory governance and to identify factors affecting its effectiveness, the challenge of designing institutions that can effectively reconcile the seemingly conflicting principles of participation on one hand, and binding decisions on the other, is still largely unmet. The challenge is particularly daunting in sustainability issues, which are often embedded in complex social-ecological dynamics and hence defy a synoptic mode of regulatory governance.
Drawing upon empirical research and practical policy experiences, this panel examines the design, operation and performance of institutions of participatory governance, with a focus on sustainability issues and environmental well-being. Issues to be addressed include:
- Policy innovation and design for consensus decision-making;
- The organization of collective actions at multiple levels and scales;
- Innovative methods and applications of effective engagement mechanisms;
- The implications of participatory governance for the design of regulatory regimes;
- Models of partnership in policy-making process and service delivery.