Public participation survey

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Survey on the level of public participation in EU member states

In order to measure public participation in different EU countries, EUCC put out a questionnaire to approximately 150 professionals in ICZM, with a focus on public participation. Out of 187 questionnaires sent, 38 were returned. Since the questionnaire included feedback, several versions were sent out while the questionnaire was refined. The questionnaire was based on the seven levels of public participation by Sherry Arnstein described in the previous section. The questionnaire adapted the original 8 levels into 7 levels, since two of the levels were considered too similar for the purposes of the questionnaire.


There were 38 responses out of 187 questionnaires sent. The number of returned questionnaires per country were as follows:

  • Belgium: 4
  • Canada: 1
  • Cyprus: 1
  • Germany: 2
  • Spain: 2
  • France: 3
  • Greece: 2
  • Ireland: 4
  • Italy: 1
  • Netherlands: 3
  • Poland: 1
  • Portugal: 4
  • Sweden: 2
  • United Kingdom: 8

Total: 38 responses, 37 from within the EU. There are 12 ENCORA project states represented in the responses. The obvious missing state is Denmark, from which no replies have been received. Two replies came from Cyprus and Canada, states which were not in the ENCORA projects. The results from Cyprus and Canada are not included in the results below.

Question 1: how are the stakeholders identified? Generally, stakeholders are identified on an ad hoc basis, either through local knowledge, through the network of others already involved in the project or using known stakeholder such as clubs and societies. Spain is an exception with a stakeholder database, created under EU recommendation 413/2002/EC. Sweden has lists available at local and regional level.


Participation is large in UK, IR, NL, SW Small in GR, IT Every country can name some good examples of IZCM, at least minimal consultancy (level 4) is done in all countries. Public participation is low in GR, IT, but strikingly also in UK, where consultation fatigue is occurring.

Main question refers to different levels of public participation, as put forward by Sherry Arnstein. Levels were simplified in some questionnaires. All countries in middle range, even though earlier questions of the questionnaire indicated larger differences.

In Europe, participation most often occurs at Level 4, generally seen as attitude surveys, neighbourhood meetings and public hearings. Whilst a valid step towards full participation, when it is not combined with higher levels of participation it is simply not enough. Consultation alone means that there is no guarantee that “citizen concerns and ideas will be taken into account”. It is important to recognise that consultation is not full participation.

Only in some cases, is their full participation in ICM decision making, largely through the development of partnerships. These are especially common in the UK. In a partnership, the power is shared by “negotiation between citizens and stakeholders”. Planning and decision making tasks are carried out through bodies like “joint policy boards”, “planning committees” and other mechanisms that might enforce such a partnership. They work best with an “organized power base” in the region or community where meetings can be held, finances can be taken care of and where the group can do business with its employees (lawyers, technicians etc.). The key to effective partnership is good organization and planning.

Contribute by completing a short QUESTIONNAIRE

The information in the above paragraph was largely gathered using a short questionnaire. If you are a coastal practitioner, please take the time to fill in our questionnaire. Completing the questionnaire takes approximately 20 minutes and will help us in giving you more information on public participation in Europe.

The goal of the questionnaire is to learn about ICM participation in your country. As you know, participation is an important part of the ICM process and there are many different ways of ensuring the involvement of all relevant actors. In order to find out about ICM participation in your country, we would much appreciate to get an insight about issues like stakeholder involvement, public awareness and ICM legislation. We intend to use this information to determine the level of ICM participation in the different countries. The main result will be a report from which countries can learn from each other’s participation practices and techniques. So please remember that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions. Link to Questionnaire.doc