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Public Participation

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The formulation of this innovative strategy is a prompt response to a mandate entrusted to the OAS by the 1996 Bolivia Summit Conference on Sustainable Development.  For almost three years, the OSDE led an open and participatory process to give shape to the ISP, working with public sector and civil society organizations in the 34 member states in conducting technical studies, seminars, and extensive consultations.  This broad consultation process gave governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders in the Americas the opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions regarding the recommendations and principles to be taken into account in the design, implementation, and evaluation of participatory projects, policies, or programs.  As a result, the ISP contains principles and policy recommendations aimed at achieving greater involvement of all sectors of society in the making of decisions on sustainable development and environment.

The process of decentralization in the Hemisphere is a response to the profound changes that are occurring in contemporary societies, governmental reforms, and the advance toward a global society. The object of this decentralization is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector and of the central government in particular, while promoting the participation of civil society in decision-making.

Environmental management is closely linked to this strengthening of the basic structures of government and of the institutional mechanisms for identifying, dealing with, and solving environmental conflicts and bringing about the necessary participation of local communities.

The Seminar whose results and conclusions appear in this publication was organized jointly by the OAS and the Foundation for the Development of the Midwestern Region (FUDECO) of Venezuela. Its purpose was to consider the experiences of a number of countries in the region in solving a variety of environmental problems through joint action by local governments and civil society within the countries' own institutional frameworks and environmental policies.

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In the context of the institutional arrangements set up in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, the Secretary General of the Organization American States was given the mandate to submit a report on progress attained in the implementation of the initiatives of the Plan of Action on Sustainable Development. The report, to be made available prior to the 1998 Summit of the Americas, was intended as a follow-up on the commitments entered into in Bolivia. This paper is in compliance with the coordinating and follow-up roles entrusted to the OAS.

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