The role of participation and technology in creating sustainable green environments
Le Roux, Jan-Hendrik
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Public participation is a process where the public is involved in decision-making regarding planning aspects that interest and affect them. There are various benefits for Urban Planners and other professions from increased inclusion of the public in the decision-making process, especially in terms of development issues and creative thinking. Advantages include the improvement of the effectiveness of plans, the resolving of conflict by enhancing consensus between stakeholders and the building of social capital. The assistance of technology in participatory methods can further enhance decision-making and developmental processes by increasing the number of participants, along with the speed and variety of participatory methods. Sustainability is a common term that entails development, where the social, economic and environmental aspects associated with the development, are taken into consideration with the aim of preserving current resources for future generations. However, the actual enforcement and implementation of sustainable developments are challenging. This research argues that participatory processes can enhance and contribute to sustainable development and the creation of sustainable green environments. The research firstly places sustainable development in context with current challenges and opportunities within the urban planning environment, secondly evaluates public participation in terms of definition and execution at an international and South African level, and lastly investigates the influence participatory processes, along with technological advances, can have on sustainable development. The research concludes with recommendations to enhance the success and effectiveness with regard to the current public participation approaches in South Africa, based on the collective results and best practice findings from various international perspectives, with the aim of improving and contributing to sustainable green environments.