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Like Minds? Two Perspectives on International Environmental Joint Efforts

May 2003

Citation: ELR 10344

Author: Ruth Greenspan Bell and Sandor Fulop

The developed world has spent some $ 10 billion in assistance over the past 25 years to improve environmental policies and management in developing countries and countries in transition. The apparent assumption has been that it is sufficient to bring environmental professionals together and let them work on issues of mutual concern. Thus, western economists work with local economists to develop market-incentive instruments; engineers install technology; lawyers in concert with their counterparts draft laws or develop enforcement policies; and so forth. Ostensibly, these professionals share joint environmental goals and possess a sufficiently common vocabulary and set of assumptions.

But do they? What can be said about their actual communication? Were they all participating in the same project for the same reasons? Did they understand its goals in the same ways? How did they communicate, or were they essentially ships passing in the night?

Ruth Greenspan Bell directs the International Institutional Development and Environmental Assistance program at Resources for the Future (RFF), Washington, D.C. She previously served as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and in various management positions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of General Counsel. Sandor Fulop is Executive Director of the Environmental Management and Law Association of Budapest, Hungary. The project which led to this Article was funded by Global Environment Facility and was entitled Building Environmental Citizenship to Support Transboundary Pollution Reduction in the Danube River: A Pilot Project in Hungary and Slovenia. The project partners included the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC), RFF, and the New York University (NYU) School of Law. In this Article, Ms. Bell speaks only for herself and not on behalf of either the REC or NYU.

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