Electronic Environmental Democracy: The Future of Information Technology in Participatory Environmental Management

EPA Grant Number: R827585
Title: Electronic Environmental Democracy: The Future of Information Technology in Participatory Environmental Management
Investigators: Davies, J. Clarence , Beierle, Thomas C.
Current Investigators: Davies, J. Clarence , Beierle, Thomas C. , Cahill, Sarah , Reff, Maria
Institution: Resources for the Future
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: April 1, 1999 through March 31, 2000
Project Amount: $147,631
RFA: Futures: Detecting the Early Signals (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Sustainability , Land and Waste Management , Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The Center for Risk Management at Resources for the Future proposes an examination of the impact of the Internet and related technologies on public involvement in environmental decision-making over the next two decades. The project=s objectives are: 1) to project the future path of electronic participation by examining the present situation and identifying likely medium term (5-10 years) and long term (10-20 years) developments; 2) to assess the use of electronic participation and identify its appropriate role in environmental management; and 3) to analyze the inter-relationship between the success of electronic participation and issues of equity, accountability, information overload, and direct democracy.


The research will be in three stages. The first stage will use interviews, data interpretation, and experiential research to survey and describe the current landscape of electronic participation in environmental policy at federal agencies, with a focus on the Environmental Protection Agency. The second stage will identify innovations outside of the federal government that are likely to see more use over the medium term. Researchers will conduct a web-based survey of electronic participation in environmental policy in all fifty states and among major environmental organizations, and select ten for more in-depth analysis. The third stage of research will examine how three or four major foreseeable social and technological developments related to information technology will affect opportunities for participation in the long term. Throughout the three stages, the analysis will use a typology of public participation mechanisms to evaluate electronic participation efforts in the context of other approaches for involving the public.

Expected Results:

The research will help federal agencies manage the converging trends of increasing demand for public participation and rapidly evolving information technology. It will identify opportunities created by electronic participation and recommend how they should fit into an overall strategy for public participation. By focusing attention on issues of equity, accountability, competition for attention, and issues related to direct democracy, the research will also help agencies anticipate and respond to the management challenges posed by increased use of electronic participation.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 12 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

public participation, community involvement, information technology, Internet, innovative technology, decision making, community-based, preferences, socio-economic., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology and Ecosystems, Futures, Exp. Research/future, Social Science, electronic democracy, emerging environmental problems, web-based surveys, electronic commerce, socio-economic changes, community involvement, environmental policy, information technology, public policy, futures research

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report