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Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 433–452 | Cite as

Consensus Building and Sustainability: Some Lessons From an Adverse Local Experience in Greece

  • Kalliopi SapountzakiEmail author
  • Louis Wassenhoven
Article

Abstract

The paper focuses on the example of a local island community in Greece, to illustrate the difficulties of effective consensus building, in support of sustainable policies. In the first section the issue of sustainability and the importance of participation are discussed, before moving to a brief outline of the nature of participation and its sources since the 1960s. It follows an analysis of the epistemological framework of consensus building process which is considered as the most integrated and sophisticated version of participatory planning. This analysis serves as a background for judging the appropriateness of consensus building for the resolution of an environmental problem harassing a Greek island community. It is about the problem of water availability and management in the small Aegean island of Leros. The paper shows how illegal practices in the use of water, administrative fragmentation and confusion over knowledge of the problem and its solutions lead to divisions in the stakeholder groups and to obstacles in the way of participation. The intrinsic problems embedded in Greek (and probably not alone) society and political culture, which prevent collective action and participation, account in part for the anticipated risk of unwelcome, illegitimate outcomes of a potential consensus building process. Nevertheless, if communicative planning is to gain universal acceptance, it should first resolve some critical theoretical and practical shortcomings related to its normative, ethical and philosophical assumptions.

Keywords

communicative planning communicative rationality consensus building Greece participation sustainability water policies in the Mediterranean region water shortage 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyHarokopion University of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Research Laboratory for Spatial planning and Urban Development, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of ArchitectureNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece

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