Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Regional Science

The Implementation of Environmental Policies by Local Actors: A Study of a Zone Located in France./La Mise En Oeuvre De Politiques Environnementales Par Des Acteurs Locaux. Etude Sur Une Zone D'etude Situee En France *

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Regional Science

The Implementation of Environmental Policies by Local Actors: A Study of a Zone Located in France./La Mise En Oeuvre De Politiques Environnementales Par Des Acteurs Locaux. Etude Sur Une Zone D'etude Situee En France *

Article excerpt

Abstract

Public actors at the local level have been increasingly requested to participate in public intervention in the environmental domain. Thus, in France, 'communes' (the smallest administrative subdivision in France) and their different groupings have become more and more important in the field of environmental protection. In this context, this article aims to characterize local environmental policies constructed by local public actors (communes and groups of communes). Attention is focused on a particular indicator--'environmental services' that represent tangible examples of environmental intervention by local public actors. The two following questions are tackled:

* Which environmental problems lead local public actors to produce environmental services?

* Which environmental services are produced by local public actors?

An analysis of environmental services allows us to identify public choices in relation to the environment, in particular by highlighting the extent of the public funds implicated and their use in operations to maintain the environment. An analysis of environmental conflicts provides an indicator of environmental problems. This indicator is complementary to environmental diagnoses.

The first part of the article presents the analytical framework. First, this makes it possible to compare environmental services to other environmental policy instruments (incentives, regulation ...). Then, it allows a ranking of the central state/local state relationship which underlies these policies. As a result of this, three types of environmental policies are identified: centralized policies, territorialized policies and local policies.

In the second part of the article, an exploratory empirical study on a periurban and a rural area in France is presented. The rural and periurban districts of Montrevel en Bresse (12 600 inhabitants) located 75 km north of Lyon (France) were chosen because the area has a great diversity of use (production, residential, leisure, tourist, environmental). A systematic identification of environmental problems and conflicts in this area is undertaken. Similarly, an inventory of environmental policies and environmental services produced in the area is undertaken, based on both oral and written sources of information. To estimate the production cost of environmental services, the funds allocated by public actors with environmental policies were ascertained. In terms of results, three major environmental problems were identified: water pollution, floods and reduction of the bocage landscape. Water pollution abatement involves all three types of policies (centralized, territorialized and local). Flood control involves territorialized policy. And maintenance of the bocage landscape involves all three types of policies. Few initiatives relate to the development of positive external effects and local public actors focus their action on limiting negative external effects. Thus, environmental services related to aquatic environments (water pollution and flood control) mobilize important financial flows. Maintenance of the bocage landscape constitutes a significant operation. These interventions are presented as the means of supporting dialogue concerning the environment between different social and economic groups.

The research reported on confirms the more general observation that local public actors have appropriated more and more environmental issues and act upon them. However, communes and the different groupings of communes possess limited abilities in relation to taxation for environmental issues, so they mobilize other tools which correspond more to their own fields of competence and their own know-how. Based upon the objects of intervention, the policies used in the district of Montrevel have a local dimension to greater or lesser degrees. The differences can be explained in part by the importance of the issues (e.g. pollution), the extent to which the public goods involved can be characterized as 'local', and also by the manner in which public policy is constructed. …

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