Grenelle Environment Project: An Institutional Tool for Building Collaborative Environmental Policies at a National Level

Grenelle Environment Project: An Institutional Tool for Building Collaborative Environmental Policies at a National Level

Clara Pusceddu (University of Sassari, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-344-7.ch018
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In July 2007, the French government launched a democratic debate on environmental issues, known as Grenelle Environment Project. The objective of this Project is to define the strategic and key points of government policy on ecological and sustainable development issues in a participative process at the national level. Within this approach, the Grenelle Environment Project put all the citizen and public service representatives together around a discussion table to set deliberately efficient national measures to deal with the environmental problems. These measures have been concretized through three national Acts, which are then legitimated by social, economic and politic actors and stakeholders. The objective of this chapter is to describe the different stages of Grenelle Environmental Project till today, and to illustrate the benefits of a collaborative and participative decision-making process to support institutional actors to face environmental, ecological and sustainable development questions. In describing the Project we will mainly focus on climate change and energy management issues.
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The Grenelle Environment Project is an Environment Round Table which was constituted in France on July 6, 2007 under the Presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy and under the supervision of Jean-Louis Borloo (Minister of State, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Planning and Development), Dominique Bussereau (Secretary of State for Transport), as well as Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (Secretary of State for Ecology). For the first time, this Environment Round Table brings the State and citizen representatives together in order to establish a shared and legitimate strategy to promote Sustainable Development. Nicolas Sarkozy, in his Grenelle presentation speech on May 21, 2007, stated that “the Grenelle Environment Project is an engagement between State, Unions, Employers, NGOs and Local authorities”.

There are two main objectives to the Grenelle Environment Project. The first concerns the definition, in a limited period of time (almost four months from July to October 2007) of some measures, policies and engagements about Sustainable Development, shared and legitimate by the state and civilian representatives, put together in a discussion table. In this respect it is an attempt to deal with environmental issues through a collaborative, deliberate and participative approach. The second aim concerns the institutionalization of the defined and legitimate engagements into the following three main National Acts:

  • Grenelle Act 1: The National Programming Law about the Environment that set forth the main principles and actions defined into the Grenelle Environment Project;

  • Grenelle Act 2: The National Commitment Law about the Environment, that put into action the principles and actions adopted by Grenelle Act 1;

  • Grenelle Act 3: Finance Bill that forms a series of investment programs intended in adapting the French economy to the new growth model based on green economy and sustainable development priorities.

The adoption of this participative approach in the establishment of Legislative Acts at a national level is framed in the interdisciplinary research, both in academic and institutional contexts, about the ways to institutionalize public participative and democratic deliberative procedures (Elster 1998) in public decision-making processes.

Two main phenomena are getting to enhance the position and role of participative perspectives. First, the introduction of the Sustainable Development concept leads to an improvement of information sharing, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental issues (1998 Aarhus Convention). Second, as a consequence of globalization and decentralization effects, the decision-making process in defining acts, plans, programs, policies and projects with strong environmental impacts is multi-actors (Roy, 1985). As a result, decision makers today recognize that the general objective of Sustainable Development can be achieved only through the involvement of all stakeholders and the interaction between the general public and public authorities in a democratic context. This vision has been further encouraged by the instauration at a European level and with a governance perspective (COM 2001, Le Galès 1995), which has been adopted gradually by public decision makers in dealing with the sprawling of environmental public disputes and conflicts (Akrich et al. 2002, Campbell 2003) and of Nimby Syndrome (Dear 1992).

Within this gradual orientation towards the adoption of a participative perspective in public decision-making, The Grenelle Environment Project represents important progress with respect to the following three aspects:

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