Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 777–806 | Cite as

Social participation and climate change

  • Ricardo Braun


Social participation has been broadly analysed by comparing case studies of different types of socio-economic developments in Brazil and the United Kingdom (UK). A key objective has been to consider how effective social participation has been in incorporating society’s points of view in the decision making process. In most cases, it would appear that very little can be done by stakeholders to change big decisions on development policies that support public and private development because in reality social participation often only provides an opportunity for discussion and agreement on specific issues regarding how development will be undertaken and how stakeholders will be affected. Although Brazil and the United Kingdom have socio-economic and cultural differences, it is necessary to emphasize that education, self-organization and knowledge of civil rights are crucial for an effective social participation process. As climate change is an important topic for present and future generations and that some of the development activities analysed in this study will emit greenhouse gases, this study also attempts to investigate if climate change mitigation strategies have been integrated into the social participation process. Investigation shows that there is little evidence that climate change mitigation actions involving stakeholders have been integrated into development strategies or have been part of social participation schemes in the case studies analysed. Having said that, the study also describes positive examples of climate change mitigation actions in different parts of the world that involve local people in ‘carbon-neutral’ or ‘social-carbon’ projects and proposes the creation of a carbon-neutral committee that would be responsible for coordinating climate change mitigation measures within development proposals such as the ones analysed in this study.


Social participation Stakeholders Climate change Carbon-neutrality Development plans Programmes and projects 



The present study is part of a sabbatical research project developed at the University of Aberdeen carried out between October 2008 and February 2009. The project was financed by the Brazilian Ministry of Education (CAPES) in collaboration with the School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen and the Centre for Environmental Analysis (NASA) from the School of Engineering of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). I would like to thank my old friend Professor Brian D. Clark for arguing, questioning, reviewing and providing guidance and knowledge during the development of this paper. I would like to thank also my Brazilian friend Professor Josimar de Almeida from NASA/UFRJ and all colleagues from ACES/University of Aberdeen and the Department of Geography and Environment for providing support and infra-structure during the research process. I would also like to thank Dr Gill Seyfang from the University of East Anglia for providing very important insights for this paper. Finally, I would also like to thank Jenny Johnson from the Department of Geography and Environment, University of Aberdeen, for elaborating schematic maps used in the present study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability (ACES)University of AberdeenAberdeenScotland, UK
  2. 2.Environmental Analysis Centre (NASA/UFRJ)Rio de JaneiroBrazil

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