Nine case studies in international environmental negotiation

For the under-analysis case, it can be asserted that the damaged environmental and social conditions may induce economic vulnerability, becoming part of economic vulnerability and vice versa.


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Negotiation is understood as the basic means of getting what you want from others, though back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement when all sides have both common and conflicting interests [ 55 ]. Two negotiation types are widely known and used in practice, being the subject of numerous studies: win-lose and win-win, which belong to distributive and integrative negotiations, respectively.

The first represents the process where what one party wins, the other one loses and where each party tries to maximize its share of a fixed-sum amount of benefits. In the second type, the win-win or integrative negotiation, partners attempt to explore their options with the purpose to enlarge the size of the common outcomes, without respect to the division of these. Open communication, willingness to share information, and mutual work to understand interests, values, and visions of each party and to be involved in a common effort to solve the problems are necessary for integrative negotiations [ 56 ].

To fulfill the research objective, the authors framed the environmental equity concerns in a conceptual framework Figure 1 , including negotiations as a means to achieve it. Negotiations need informational input, collected in this situation through an evaluation matrix. This was considered to be the most appropriate, because it can be applied in the case of subjective criteria, such as those specific for environment and social governance loss of health, aesthetic benefits of environment, etc.

The reduced level of willingness to get involved was based on motives such as lack of financial incentives, time, and interest in the topic. At their turn, researchers were limited by budget and time constraints to continue the selection of participants beyond the number of 12 participants long delay in receiving answers and in finding a mutually accepted meeting timeframe.

At the beginning of the focus group, the objective of the meeting, the research context objective, concept of equity, the three action options, etc. Next, they were requested to come up with ideas about possible criteria for the evaluation of the action options. The results were noted by a member of the research team.


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The focus group generated a large list of criteria 19 that could be used for environmental equity assessment. A break was taken, during which researchers created and printed a table with the criteria that emerged during the discussions, with criteria arranged in the lines and importance levels in the columns, from 1 to Level 1 represented the lowest importance and 10, the highest. This was done in writing, individually, without consultation among each other, and avoiding reciprocal influences.

Focus group members who were not able to fill in the table by themselves were assisted by the researchers. The same twelve participants received a printed table with criteria on lines and action options on columns to evaluate each criterion on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1—the lowest level and 10—the highest in relation to its capacity to be fulfilled within each specific action option. They had to fill in a number in each column for each line.

In This Article

The evaluation was made individually, without influence on each other and with help from organizers, when needed. In the case of five questions, the results were re-coded reversely, 1 became 10, 2 became 9, and so on by researchers as mentioned in the footnote of Table 2 during the analysis process. The effects of each action option were judged on a time span of 5 to 10 years, because less than 5 years does not allow significant changes and more than 10 years is too far away in time, making estimations difficult.

Each action option was explained in detail. Anonymity of the answers was granted to ensure higher objectivity. All subjects gave their informed consent for participation in the study. The study was conducted in accordance with the principles included in the Declaration of Helsinki , with subsequent modifications.

International Environmental Negotiations: The Current State of Empirical and Analytic Study

The negotiation process will be fueled by the information supplied by the results of the evaluation matrix, which was judged to be the most appropriate for the present context, mainly due to its suitability to subjective criteria and no need of very large input data. Thus, while for the authorities and the majority of the population the equal treatment is negligible in projection of public actions, for the Roma people, the issue of themselves as a threat to the other is irrelevant.

These statements picture, once again, the existence of different priorities for each group, the clash of their interests, and they underline the necessity of a negotiation process to harmonize major gaps and to make environmental equity possible. Negotiations among stakeholders are required in order to create and implement effective solutions that would lead to environmental equity.

Due to the complexity and dynamism of the problem, it cannot be solved by unilateral and ready-made solution, but through integrative win-win negotiations among parties with similar power. Unfortunately, balanced negotiation power and integrative negotiations are very difficult to achieve in the present case, as a consequence of the asymmetric access to information, advantageous political power of one side, significantly higher economic power and better networking of some partners.

As Okereke observed, despite the egalitarian notions of justice in environmental agreements, strategies, and action plans, core policies are blocked in market-based neoliberal interpretations of justice, loyal to the status quo [ 59 ]. In a neoliberal era, approaching state with hope and faith, seeing it as a trustful partner and preaching its hegemony in terms of creating EJ, reflect the course of action adopted so far, one that failed and betrayed its activists, perpetuating institutional racism, and thus, imposing a rethinking of the attitude towards the state [ 60 ].

Similarly to the reality analyzed by Pulido et al. Negotiations which have an extended environmental side are some of the most complex being almost always multilateral and difficult to resolve, and, to complicate the situation even more, they cannot be separated by social and economic aspects; they are time-consuming, need supplementary creativity, information, and they are usually preceded by extensive scientific fact-finding [ 61 ]. Intervention measures to decompress the forces that maintain disequilibrium are required to set the stage for the future negotiation process.

One possible tool, designed to act within the preliminary phase of negotiation and also during the bargain stage, is information regarding the evaluations of the environmental equity by the stakeholders.

Data and knowledge are crucial because they help participants to become more aware of their own positions and interests and to include all dimensions of the negotiation subject into the negotiation. Negotiation partners must avoid being blocked in positions and have to follow their interest, accepting adjustments of the former. Environmental equity represents the subject and the dimensions are the elements of the social, economic, and environmental impact categories and they are analyzed in detail in Section 4. It should also be remembered that the final goal is not just to have an agreement or a policy mutually accepted and beneficial , but to have it implemented.

From this perspective, the use itself of the negotiation process, practiced with competence, dedication, and concern for overall satisfaction of interests, fosters relationships and stimulates partners to contribute to the implementation of the agreement [ 62 ]. A sound body of information and knowledge is a prerequisite of paramount importance for the preparation and development of any negotiation, and, especially, for the implementation of agreements.

In the present case, besides mastering negotiation skills and knowing the legal framework, deep understanding of the social, economic, and environmental reality is mandatory for a realistic, correct, and successful approach of EJ. The environmental movements during the last decades imposed an environmental paradigm shift from the preservation of remote habitats to a more localized strategy on environmental improvements in the quality of life closer to the homes of affected humans [ 24 ].

For Central and Eastern Europe, four main patterns of the most common forms of environmental injustice were identified: exposure to hazardous waste and chemicals settlements at contaminated sites ; vulnerability to floods; differentiated access to potable water; and discriminatory waste management practices [ 36 ]. Therefore, the environmental movement, preoccupied mostly to clean up the environment, sometimes arrives to a point where it promotes practices that harm the environment itself [ 63 ] or the deprived social categories, in support of the privileged social class concerns, such as their own environment, jobs, logistics interest, or health care.

In general, the distributional justice deals with the role of class, race, gender, and ethnicity in the environmental degradation. Empirical evidence for environmental discrimination is obvious through the analysis of the following factors: A. It is argued that there are two important characteristics of such population-specific problems. Firstly, they tend to be non-geographically specific [ 65 ].

This means that, generally, at country level, Roma people suffer from higher exposure to environmental risks than the rest of the population, because they are more likely to inhabit poorly maintained residences and deprived rural and urban areas due to low incomes, cultural background, etc. These lifestyle characteristics may be rooted and encapsulated in a particular historical-political national Romanian background.

In fact, it is common among those subjected to harm to have little history of civic and political participation [ 2 ]. In some cases, as Jamieson observes, participation is denied for other reasons than institutional or regulatory framework failure [ 67 ]. It could be a path-dependency of this community of not acting, not disturbing, of remaining invisible, rooted in a historical, not so remote, past. The documentarily verified presence of the Roma on the actual territory of Romania dates back to [ 68 ], and they suffered one of the longest episodes of slavery in human history years, between — [ 69 ].

Extermination in camps in Eastern Europe, the Balkans or the former Soviet Union did not have the dimensions of Auschwitz, but it was organized on the same ideological premises, using similar bureaucratic plans, industrial methods, and racial marks. Unfortunately, the scant nature of studies made it impossible to know the exactly number of deportees, ranging from 25, to , [ 69 ]. It can be claimed to some extent that a political failure—incapability to act and change this secular way of non-action—can be incriminated. However, this behavior is justified by the fact that we deal with an omnipresent preconceived scenario, from the justice to the street, in which, regardless of their nature, Roma people are perceived as the subjects of incrimination.

This minority, according to national Romanian normativity, is not legally denied from a fair share and treatment, but they are still absent from the community governance, over which justice is supposed to prevail [ 67 ]. In the Romanian context, being of Roma ethnicity and being a minority is not the same problem.

The membership to Roma minority makes a huge difference in the way people are perceived and treated: they are seen differently from other minorities negatively , in contrast with positive perceptions related to Hungarian, German, Serbian or other minorities living in this country. This is the reason why it was necessary to individualize this factor, being Roma, with a strong impact on their existence, besides the other two: belonging to a minority and living in a landfill.

For the present analysis, the environmental aspect—the pollution—fosters the social inequalities for Roma citizens.

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Social security, through its redistributive character, has a major role in poverty reduction and alleviation, preventing exclusion and promoting social inclusion [ 72 ]. The right to social security contains the right not to be the subject of restrictions regarding existing social security coverage, as well as the right to equal enjoyment of adequate protection from social risks. Access to education and health care systems has also been negatively impacted. Therefore, restrictions on access to social security schemes are present de facto , even if de jure a legal framework of protection, comprising the obligation to respect, to protect, and to fulfill Roma minority rights, exists.

At the same time, we deal with a present and future environmental injustice through the present lack of decontamination measures, which endanger the residents. The landfill must be secured and monitored in the post-closure phase, to prevent further pollution, because the biochemical and physical processes in the deposit were not fully stabilized at the moment of closing the landfill [ 47 ].

The future dimension of environmental equity has a high probability to extend in time as a result of the high financial and physical efforts required for decontamination. The country faces serious impediments in shifting from a traditional waste management system based on landfilling to a sustainable and integrated system [ 76 ]. Methane and carbon dioxide have significant contributions to climate change and MSW landfills, in general, are considered as an important source of anthropogenic methane emissions.

Carbon dioxide and methane emission performed with in situ measurements by using the closed chamber method revealed high values, with eleven times lower emission of methane than carbon dioxide, possibly as a consequence of: the composition of the solid waste, the uncontrolled leaching of organic matter, the open burning of solid waste, and climatic conditions [ 46 ].

Soil sample analysis indicated contamination values far beyond the accepted limits: Pb was General Comment No. All problems faced in the context the lack of EJ have an economic component [ 65 ]. Environmental inequity is both a consequence and a source of economic impediments—it is rooted in and generates pecuniary disadvantages.

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Thus, communities under economic stress choose to trade their environmental benefits water quality, biodiversity services, aesthetic values, etc. Lack of constant income, being evicted, jobless, or without property, depict their precarious material situation Table 1 , which, along with social and environmental hardships, prevent them to escape from their economic vulnerability.

This is, in fact, an economic as it is performed for a lower monetary compensation and environmental as selection turns into recycling service they deliver to the waste generating community. A study of Pop et al. A key factor in achieving a paradigm shift in perception of this minority and in improving their life conditions is the promotion of the idea of waste as a source of income.

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Transforming waste to income and Roma people to citizens with stable jobs with equitable pay has at least the following economic benefits: recycling associated ones waste pollution reduction, use of new raw-material sources, etc. This aspiration is achievable, in terms of financial allocations, due to the high amount of money assigned for the — period: Romania will receive Of this amount, at least Consequently, environmental equity does not exist for Roma minority.

In the present context, in order to answer to the second question, the negotiation is the endorsed means to achieve environmental equity. The reasoning behind this choice is that negotiation can manage, under certain conditions, such as segregation, discrimination, and avoidance, an important part of conflict situations like those between the majority and the Roma minority that the market and the soft and hard law instruments are not capable or do not want to solve or they do it, but at higher costs or ineffectively.

Negotiation is supported also due to its capacity to implement the principle of proximity, which aims to encourage the local communities in assuming responsibilities for taking decisions as close as possible to their interests. This nuanced approach, its awareness and valorization is a key element on the long way to acceptance and change, so that, an environmentally just and equitable outcome for the Roma people of the Pata Rat landfill can be attained.

Therefore, instead of giving quantitative results, a qualitative one was obtained, which indicated an order of preference—degree of reaching environmental equity. However, it should be remembered that the results obtained through the evaluation matrix are not representative for the whole groups of stakeholder and, therefore, the research should be extended to a larger population in the future. Also, the criteria could be adjusted according to the particular visions of the stakeholders that will be involved in the real negotiation that will pursue the achievement of EJ.

The authors would like to express their appreciation to all reviewers who contributed with invaluable feedback that strengthened the quality of this paper. The authors also thank to Ciprian Bodea for the photos he kindly accepted to provide. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Jun Find articles by Ioan Gheorghe Oroian.