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What is Aarhus Convention

Handbook of Research on E-Planning: ICTs for Urban Development and Monitoring
The short term for United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters agreed upon on 25 June 1998 in Aarhus, Denmark, committing signatory states to promote local programs for sustainable development including the obligation to consult ordinary citizens (http://www.unece.org/env/pp/).
Published in Chapter:
The Potential of E-Participation in Urban Planning: A European Perspective
Herbert Kubicek (University of Bremen, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-929-3.ch009
Abstract
Because urban planning affects the living conditions of its inhabitants, most countries, at least western democracies, require some kind of citizen participation by law. The rise of the World Wide Web has led to recommendations to offer participation via the Internet (eParticipation) in various forms. However, many eParticipation applications are not well accepted and fall short of the expectations associated with them. This chapter argues that the electronic mode of participation per se does not change much. Rather, electronic forms of participation have to be embedded in the context of the respective planning processes and participation procedures. If citizens are not interested in participating in an urban planning process, they will not do so just because they could do it via the Internet. Therefore, an analysis of the barriers and deficits of eParticipation has to start with a critical review of traditional offers of participation. Against this background, the forms and methods of electronic participation are described and assessed in regard to expectations and barriers associated with them. It becomes apparent that eParticipation research has still not provided solid knowledge about the reasons for low acceptance of eParticipation tools. This research is largely based on case studies dealing with quite different subject areas. There is also high agreement that electronic tools will not substitute traditional devices for a long time. Instead, they will only complement them. Therefore, online and traditional forms of participation have to be designed as a multi-channel communication system and need to be analyzed against each context together. Accordingly, this paper starts with summarizing both the institutional context of urban planning and traditional modes of citizen participation and the development and use of technical tools as two backgrounds. Recognizing a certain degree of disappointment with the low use of eParticipation, future eParticipation research should focus on fitting electronic tools better into their context and apply more comprehensive and rigorous evaluation.
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