Mepielan Ebulletin

   Participatory Environmental Governance: 
   Reflecting on Its Innovative Legal
   and Political Underpinnings 

  by Evangelos Raftopoulos,
  Editor and Founding Director of MEPIELAN Centre,
  Professor Emeritus of International Law,
  Panteion University of Athens, Greece
  Fellow, C-EENRG, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

An Overview

Let me begin with a rather condensed articulation of the approach to Participatory Environmental Governance.

More than ever, and especially in this dire situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, “participatory environmental governance” (PEG) should not be simply considered and declared as a challenging perspective or an abstract ambition to be “moderately” planned, reached and practiced. In fact, its conceptualization and construction rises well beyond traditional “normal” thinking and perceived applications or doctrinal positivist restrictions. It should be contemplated as a multidimensional, interdisciplinary, relational process capable of generating sustainability and contributing to common interest (international and domestic) in an “ever-changing” world (“meeting the needs of present and future generations”). Integrating political, legal, scientific and social knowledge, thus, effectively addressing the policy-science-society interface at all levels of governance PEG provides an all-encompassing approach to sustainability effectiveness while opening up a roadmap to trust and strong social legitimation.

Participatory environmental governance naturally ingrains a progressive bottom-up approach into the traditional top-down approach to the process of shaping and implementing environmental governance and law-making. As a result, sustainability policies and environmental legislation as well as international duty-obligations and power-rights under conventional environmental regimes, should come under public scrutiny. States should not only secure effective consultation with non-state actors, the public, in their decision-making process managing environmental issues. States should not merely give access to information to the public or disseminate scientific information on their own terms. Increasingly and consistently, States should effectively engage non-state actors, the public, in environmental decision-making process at all levels and in all stages of this process, so that the latter become essential part of the continuous management of sustainability with its ecological, technological, social and ethical implications. Ôhe democratization and trust-building of this process, associated with consistent contribution to international/domestic common interest, is the best guarantee for its legitimation, effectiveness and social acceptance. In practice, this invites transformative innovative concepts and policies, public-engaging practices and better understanding of legal and political complementarities in constructing effective environmental governance.

Let me now take you to the streets of this so heavily rich – and so complex but reliable - encompassing approach to PEG, shedding some light into two of its, more daring but far-reaching, underpinnings to better understand its outward evolving institutional life.   

MEPIELAN E-Bulletin is a dynamic electronic newsletter of MEPIELAN Centre, Panteion University of Athens, Greece.  It features guest articles, insights articles, critical forum textual contributions and reflections, specially selected documents and cases, book reviews as well as news on thematic topics of direct interest of MEPIELAN Centre and on the cooperative activities and role of MEPIELAN Centre. Its content bridges theory and practice perspectives of international law, international environmental law, sustainable development, and international negotiating process, thus serving the primary goal of Centre: to develop an integrated, inter-disciplinary, context-related and sustainably effective governance approach creating, protecting and advancing international common interest in the fields above. Providing a knowledge- and information-sharing platform and a scholarly forum for the promotion of innovative ideas and enlightened critical views, the Bulletin aims at contributing to a broader scholarly debate on, and to a more stimulating learning process of, important issues of international common interest. The audience of the Bulletin includes academics, researchers, university students, international lawyers, officials and personnel of international organizations and institutional arrangements, heads and personnel of national authorities at all levels (national, regional and local), and members of the civil society at large.


by Meinhard Doelle, Professor of Law, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada & Sara L. Seck, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Research at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada*
Efforts to deal effectively with loss and damage (L&D) in the UN climate regime, and to provide for avenues to remedy associated harms, have so far failed. While these efforts are ongoing, it is becoming increasingly clear that a broad range of international regimes and domestic legal systems will be challenged to respond to calls for appropriate remedies for those harmed by L&D. L&D is not defined in the UN climate regime. It has been suggested in the literature, however, that the phrase ‘loss and damage’ recognizes two categories of harm. One category involves permanent harm, or irrecoverable ‘loss’, such as the loss of landmass from sea level rise. The second category involves reparable or recoverable ‘damage’, such as shoreline damage from storms.
by Dr. Elli Louka, President, Law-in-Action, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Unimproved germplasm, the way found in nature, and landraces cultivated by farmers around the world for years, were, till the adoption of the Biodiversity Convention, a free access resource. Improved germplasm, by breeding or bio-engineering, on the other hand, is often protected by patents or other sui generis intellectual property rights (IPRs). The power of the seed industry, the industry that has acquired IPRs over most of the improved germplasm, has increased dramatically. Five big companies, Syngenta (owned by ChemChina), Bayer (Germany), Corteva (US, a spinoff of DowDuPont) and BASF (Germany) control a sizeable piece of the total seed market and 90 percent of the agrochemical market. The oligopolistic nature of the seed industry makes improved germplasm often prohibitively expensive for the farmers of the developing countries.
by Dr. Alexandros Kailis, Senior Research Fellow, MEPIELAN Centre, Special Adviser on International & European Affairs, Presidency of the Hellenic Government
The European Union and the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States officially opened negotiations for the conclusion of a new Partnership Agreement in New York on 28 September 2018 in the margins of the UN General Assembly. The new agreement will enter into effect after 2020, following the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement on 29 February 2020. The Cotonou Agreement was adopted in June 2000, and entered into force in April 2003. To date, it is the most comprehensive and balanced partnership agreement between the EU and developing countries. It determines the legal regime and general governance framework applicable to EU relations with ACP countries on a wide range of policy issues focused on: the eradication of poverty, the promotion of sustainable development from an economic, social, environmental and cultural perspective, and the progressive integration of ACP countries into the global economic system.
by Dr. Aggelina Metaxatos, Research Scientific Staff, Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development (IERSD) of National Observatory of Athens (NOA)
Humanity has waged long wars against many different, sometimes imaginary threats. In 1958, in the Republic of China, a relentless four-year war was waged against an animal species that would hardly be declared an enemy: the little sparrow. The real cause of this war was the miserable policy of the Party that threatened China with famine. The "enemy" was none other than the endemic arboreal sparrow: a small, cowardly bird that had the misfortune to be included in the" Four Pests Campaign" along with mosquitoes, flies, and rats, well-known carriers of dangerous pathogens. Mao's authority declared war because the "experts" defined the sparrow as a competitive species in grain farming.The leader's authority and the "excellence" of the party turned China's people into a ruthless killer of millions of small birds, which caused a severe ecological disaster and the great Chinese famine.


by Nadia Vassiliadou, Communication Officer, MEPIELAN Centre,Journalist
Rising inequality, growing impact of climate change, biodiversity loss, unrelenting pressure on natural resources could lead to irreversible environmental damage in the Mediterranean basin, according to a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Launched on the 21st of October on the sidelines of the EU Green Week, the State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean finds that the future of the Mediterranean is on the line. Unless urgent and resolute action is taken to halt current trends, environmental degradation could have serious and lasting consequences for human health and livelihoods in the region.


Edited by Christina Voigt
'Human laws must be reformulated to keep human activities in harmony with the unchanging and universal laws of nature.' This 1987 statement by the World Commission on Environment and Development has never been more relevant and urgent than it is today. Despite the many legal responses to various environmental problems, more greenhouse gases than ever before are being released into the atmosphere, biological diversity is rapidly declining and fish stocks in the oceans are dwindling. This book challenges the doctrinal construction of environmental law and presents an innovative legal approach to ecological sustainability: a rule of law for nature which guides and transcends ordinary written laws and extends fundamental principles of respect, integrity and legal security to the non-human world.

MEPIELAN Centre as an Accredited MAP Partner: Contributing to Mediterranean Challenges and Perspectives

MEPIELAN Centre participates in the 21st Meeting of the MCSD Steering Committee Teleconference, 13-14 May 2020

MEPIELAN Centre participates in the 21st Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols (Naples, Italy, 2-5 December 2019) and its Director is elected as a Member of the Compliance Committee

MEPIELAN Centre participates in the 18th Meeting  of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) (Budva, Montenegro, 11-13 June 2019) and is elected as a Member of the Steering Committee of the MCSD

Contributing to the Implementation of the Mediterranean Strategy on Sustainable Development (MSSD): MEPIELAN Centre Submits Concept Notes on Launching Two MSSD Flagship Initiatives (20th Meeting of the MCSD Steering Committee, Athens, 23-24 January 2019)

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Editorial Committee

Editor & Director
Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos

Editorial Assistant
Socrates Zachos

Editorial Research Team

Alexandros Kailis
Ourania Anastasiadou
Theano Maneta
Kyriaki Monezi
Maria Striga
Georgios Raftopoulos

Media & Communications
Nadia Vassiliadou

Advisory Board

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