The blind game of decentralization in European environmental policies - Community-based institutions for managing forest commons at stake in Romania and Spain
Sociologie Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung Köln, Deutschland
From Bali to Mongolia and Venezuela, from South-Africa to Northern Siberia and Spain, Arjun Agrawal states (Agrawal 2001) that more than 60 countries deal with a form or another of decentralization in the management of natural resources, mainly forests and pastures. In most of the cases scholars advocate for taking the state out of environmental policy and management of natural resources. Non-state actors and international donors are called in. But is ?the local? ready to meet the new challenges?
By comparing Romania and Spain, I want to point to the importance of dictatorial political legacy for the current state of the art in the discourse of environmental decentralization. Empirical evidence is brought in favor of the hypothesis that where absolutist political regimes were in power, decentralization cannot follow the same patterns like in western unitary states. Both micro and macro dimensions are analyzed within a longitudinal perspective: Romania and Spain have similar participatory regimes for managing forest commons, but different recent history, and different trajectory in the becoming as nation states. Ethnographic data is illustrated from Navarra and Vrancea regions together with an overview of the evolution of environmental policies.