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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals
EC Directives cover the entire range of environmental policy. They frequently provide a viable international standard of comparison since they are designed with this in mind. From this perspective it is hardly surprising that the EC approach underlies the Montreal Protocol, because it already reflects the needs of international action.
In addition to standards, it is possible to compare procedures, that is, the rules and regulations governing the regulatory process. This assumes that the process has an impact on the outcomes that are achieved. It further assumes that the nature of the procedure to be followed influences the economic impact of the measures that are adopted as a result. It reflects the fact that environmental management has developed a substantial body of specialized procedural regulations.
The impacts of environmental degradation are difficult to predict. Traditional concepts to determine interested parties, based on property or membership in certain groups, do not apply without qualification. Geographic proximity can define affectedness, as can belonging to certain groups (for example, pregnant women or indigenous peoples whose diet includes a large proportion of fish from a single ecosystem). However, in other instances, users of certain products (automobiles) can be affected, or all those within a certain distance of major highways along which large numbers of automobiles may pass. Environmental phenomena such as stratospheric ozone depletion can affect every person capable of leaving the house. In many countries, environmental management has increasingly embraced the principle that everybody has an interest in environmental decisions, requiring procedures to allow anybody who feels affected, or potentially affected, to participate in decision-making as environmental regulations are elaborated. Some European countries and Japan continue to use traditional criteria (frequently relating to property ownership or neighborhood) to limit participation rights.
The need for public participation has engendered a number of aspects of environmental policy that are the proximate cause of its procedural complexity. Participation is not possible without an adequate information base that is publicly available. This informs the structure of many environmental assessment requirements and explains the central importance of freedom of information regulations to environmental management. Each of these can result in additional economic burdens on enterprises, which must comply with extensive procedural regulations prior to obtaining environmental permits and after these have been awarded.
Increasingly, the need for public participation across national boundaries is becoming apparent. Since environmental problems transcend national boundaries, there are no logical reasons why the participation rights of citizens must end at the border. However, this poses serious problems in relation to traditional legal systems. The European Community struggled with this problem in negotiating a directive on environmental assessment. After considering various forms of direct