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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.

Kirk P. Rodgers
Office for Sustainable Development and Environment

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