John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Governance in environmental health Volume 9, issue 4, Juillet-Août 2010

15, rue de Vaugirard 75006 ParisFrance

In environmental health, society's demands for more direct democracy are not opposed to, but instead consistent with, representative democracy, for modern democracy is characterised both by an organized division of powers and by the need to take time to make public decisions. At different geographic scales, numerous factors, including but not limited to the triangular physician-patient-family/friends relationship, public survey procedures, and local public health diagnoses, all help us move forward toward a form of environmental health governance intended to be carefully thought-out, collegial, and efficient. The spirit of the international Aarhus convention has reached France and Europe, infusing the French constitution and the Grenelle Environment Forum as well as the European Union's Lisbon treaty, which strengthens Parliament and establishes the right of citizen initiatives. It nonetheless remains insufficient for planetary management of atmospheric issues. Accordingly, we see that cooperation is only one facet of governance, which must aim to organise, at the least, the debate (untangling the complexity), or still better, the codecision procedure (converging toward acceptable responses), and if possible joint implementation (promoting responsibility). At each scale and for each link, governance demands integrated expert assessments but remains dependent on the “good will”, in the ethical sense, of all of the stakeholders.