Common to all investigated cases is that their instigators have sought, in rhetoric and to a varying degree in reality, a participatory dimension regarding technical assessment and decision-making in local environmental policy formation and implementation.
By considering the realities of how the commitments to participation have been pursued and achieved in the selected cases, this study explores the potential for citizen participation in relatively technical aspects of environmental policy in the wake of Agenda 21.
The thesis concludes that there are tentatively poor conditions for effective involvement of citizens in technical matters of local environmental policy in Sweden and UK, despite the fact that both countries have enthusiastically endorsed participation in the sustainable development process.
The main reasons appear to be the adoption of inappropriate participatory techniques and lack of managerial skills in, as well as inadequate policy and institutional practices for, pursuing meaningful public participation in the technical-environmental policy realm.
Moreover, although there are opportunities for local assessment of expert knowledge in all the cases, there appears to be limits to the degree of policy impact that can be ascribed to the participatory exercise. Nevertheless, the study suggests that, if given the opportunity and inclined to take it, in using their local knowledges, values and preferences, lay publics are capable of validating relatively technical facets of environmental housing and transport policy.
This further suggests that there is good potential for democratisation of expertise in the process towards global environmental management given the existence of effective participatory practices and a genuine will to co-operate.