Different "levels" of public participation can be addressed depending on the way public participation is organised and is embedded in the process of decision making. Four basic levels of public participation are:
- Civil society
- Real participation
- Symbolic participation
| Example Tuna Farming, Croatia
"NO" to tuna-farming in the island of Vis, Croatia
In the relatively remote Dalmatian island of Vis, in the town of Komiza, a fish factory existed for years. The factory was very important for the economy of the island, which, in the past, was closed to foreign tourists. Recently, sardine fish, which used to be the base of the factory production, declined, and the factory was going bankrupt. In order to prevent bankruptcy, management of the factory decided to start with tuna-farming. A new tuna-farming project was presented to the inhabitants of the island of Vis as the only alternative for their economic future.
However, factory management had not considered that the old factory was located almost within the town of Komiza, surrounded by the main town beaches, nor that due to its high biodiversity and pristine nature, the island of Vis and its coastal area has been recognised by many national and international environmental organisations as one of the most important islands in the Mediterranean. At that time, several international (IUCN, WWF) and national (Ministry of Environment, NGO "Sunce" and UNDP) projects were implemented in the area. All projects were trying to preserve extremely precious biodiversity, while also providing opportunities for sustainable development through enhancing traditional economy of the area.
Tuna-farming in the Mediterranean began to develop in the late 90s almost entirely for the Japanese market. These, non-traditional practices, result in organic pollution which threaten surrounding habitats. This has already been experienced in Croatia, since Croatia is the leading producer of farmed tuna in the Mediterranean, after Spain. Tuna can not bread in captivity, therefore, tuna-farming uses fish captured in the wild. According to ICCAT, in the last 30 years, the population of mature tuna has gone down by 80%!
All these reasons prompted the local population of Komiza to mobilise. After numerous discussions at the local, county and national level, well followed by the media, the decision to go for the referendum has been taken. Action has been headed by the local NGO "Sunce", assisted by several other Croatian NGOs.
The results of the referendum showed that 88% of the voters were against the project. The local referendum stopped a new tuna-farming project from taking off. The community's response was the first of its kind in Croatia. It was recognised by the WWF to be an important success in saving the Mediterranean wild tuna. A solution for the fish factory has not been found yet, and the town of Komiza is looking for other, more sustainable development opportunities.
Example: Sinop City Council, Sinop, Turkey
With the introduction of Agenda 21, adopted in the 1992 Rio Declaration of Environment and Development aimed to develop a comprehensive plan of action to be act globally, nationally and locally, utmost relevance was given to the local authorities’ initiatives. On this basis City Councils began to be discussed in Turkey. In line with this discussion, the city council was initiated under the body of Sinop Municipality, which also allowed the activities of youth and women assemblies within its scope. City councils act as local units where local agenda 21 processes are conducted. They are platforms where the principles of transparency, accountability, participation and subsidiarity apply. In addition to the participation in the decision making processes, they are involved in public opinion research and social projects. Among their activities, they launch petitions for social responsibility such as equality of women and men, computer literacy, entrepreneurship, etc. As an example, in Sinop they applied a poll (in English) to the foreign tourists to determine the needs of cruise shipping in the municipality in partnership with Sinop Culture and Tourism Association, all of which allowed them to be actively involved in the policy making process regarding the city.
Cruise shipping activity in Sİnop
You can read more about Turkish City Councils under the “Case Studies” chapter.
For further information about local agenda 21 see http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/
City Councils Guidelines (in English)
For further information about Sinop city council in Turkish see: