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Earth Community Organization (ECO)
the Global Community


Prof. Richard C. Rich
VA
E-Mail: URBAN@VT.EDU


for Discussion Roundtables 1, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 36, and 39


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COLLABORATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AS AN APPROACH TO ACHIEVING SUSTAINABILITY


Submitted by:
Prof. Richard C. Rich, Chair
VA
E-Mail: URBAN@VT.EDU

Because a community's sustainability depends on the choices and actions of its residents, "top-down" or "command-and-control" approaches to achieving sustainable development are often very limited in their effectiveness. An emerging approach to responding to local environmental issues, however, provides a model for actively involving community residents in ways that can encourage sustainability. Variously referred to as "collaborative environmental management" or "civic environmentalism," these approaches involve all sectors of society in a "ground-up," holistic effort to envision desirable futures for the community and to act to move toward those visions. They have the important advantage of creating a sense of place, a community identity, and an attitude of environmental citizenship that can provide a foundation for life-style and policy changes that lead to sustainability.

This paper explores the relationship between the features of collaborative environmental management and the conditions necessary for achieving sustainability. It draws on examples from eight cases of collaborative environmental management in the state of Virginia to discuss the conditions under which this is an appropriate response to environmental problems. The analysis asks how collaborative environmental management practices could be extended to efforts to promote community sustainability, and identifies the elements of this approach that are especially relevant to application in developing nations.



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