Break-Out Group 2

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Group 2: Natural Resources Extraction at Local / Sub-national Levels (Energy Resources)

Speaker 1: Sean Southey, ICLEI, Canada

Speaker 2: Gary Lawrence, Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, US 

Chair: Paul Whiffen, Tearfund, UK

Rapporteur: Toby Middleton, UNED Forum

Sean Southey drew from experiences with ICLEI's “Cities for Climate Campaign” (Local Agenda 21 MSPs). Steps taken in this process include: 

Local Authority decides it wants to reduce emissions;

undertakes a review of energy usage to establish benchmarks;

sets appropriate reduction targets;

sets emissions reduction plans;

implements plans;

monitors outcomes.

Five tensions frequently arise in this process:

Participation Vs Representation;

Campaign against Vs Working for;

Conflict Vs Consensus;

Environmental Management Vs Consensus;

Process Vs Real change.

Gary Lawrence drew from experience with the “Seattle Environmental Priorities Project” (comparative risk analysis). The project recognised planning as a political exercise with technical attributes, which grew from public and scientific anxiety; and the city that needed a comprehensive plan upon which to make decisions.

The steering committee of the process, consisting of government, business (all sizes), key organisations, neighbourhoods and scientists, needs to run its own MSP before outreaching for a public MSP. Participants have to accept obligations linked to the process, e.g. to communicate with their own constituents, organise press conferences, etc.

In the discussion the following points were made:

Many politicians will resist the notion of MSPs at the international level as they can be viewed as increasing political pressure, whereas at the local level there is an acceptance that you can’t avoid public participation.

Addressing the issue of natural resource extraction: the process comes down to whose environment it is and who needs the resource and for what? Has there been full disclosure by and to all parties?

Process vs. scientific legitimacy. The legal interface ends up shaping the debate around which stakeholders can operate.

Power of voice is determined by power held. Therefore, there can be a problem with 'false stakeholders' (bought interests). Who legitimises those involved?

Legitimacy: stakeholders need to set standards for participation, and have to be prepared to walk away (if the process is undemocratic / lip-service).

1. Which aspects of the issues under discussion have been or should be addressed with an MSP?

UNED’s report doesn’t address Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). These are critical tools to inform the process. EIAs are a legislative requirement in the EU which could be very valuable if legitimate.

All parties need to operate on equal footing.

Effects of conflict on the value of the process: Trust is essential to the process. Participating groups need to be able to compromise. MSPs are models to address new issues for the 21st Century.

MSPs can eliminate mis-comprehension and perceptions unfounded. This is a value beyond decision-making, and is more related to relationship building. MSPs are perhaps a process of conflict prevention.

MSPs are a tool to mitigate conflicts. Thus there is a need to ensure that whoever is convening the MSP is un-biased.

2. What are the key principal components and conditions of a successful MSP?

We have been looking at MSPs in isolation. We need to take a more integrative perspective. 

Fatigue of processes vs. benchmarking / standard setting for future processes.

A checklist might be necessary to know the right time to walk away.

3. What should be principles and practical components of linkages between MSPs and official decision-making processes?

At the CSD, stakeholders have no input on the issues being dialogued. Preparations need to be transparent and participatory and timelines / structures should be progressive in incremental steps.

Start the process off with a clean sheet of paper. There needs to be a level playing field for all participants.

The way you conceptualise MSPs determines the outcomes. There is no fact that can counter a really good myth. Sound political commitments are important.

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Contact Minu Hemmati and Felix Dodds for further information.