OPPORTUNITIES AND PRECONDITIONS OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN SUSTAINABLE SETTLEMENT DEVELOPMENT (Moznosti a predpoklady obcianskej participacie v udrzatelnom sidelnom rozvoji)
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Public participation is a comprehensive social science concept of interdisciplinary character, with the impact on the society. This paper is concentrated on public participation in settlement development at the local level in Slovakia as well as in international context. It takes into consideration social and historical origins of participation and reflects some issues of citizen participation in the development of settlement structures in Slovakia. The significance of citizen participation in settlement development lies in the fact that citizens create their settlement environment according to their social needs and at the same time under this process they get changed too. Participating citizens cease to be apathetic towards their social and settlement environment and take responsibility for the activities within their communities. It is continual process of improving the settlement conditions and its implication is to reach the wishful shape of environment and to develop local community with its identity and social cohesion. Citizen participation connects personal and group interests as well as the interests of local communities with public well-being. The paper points out the mechanisms of participation in the settlement development and clarifies the legal framework for public participation in the Slovak as well as in the international context. At the same time the paper points out the prevailing forms of contribution projects, based on the principles of partnership and cooperation, the objective of which was to coordinate mutual activities of the stakeholders oriented towards solutions of local and regional issues of the settlements in Slovakia. Several identified issues of the citizen participation at the local level are brought forward. They are based on the results from sociological surveys of local democracy and the process of participation has been illustrated by the contextual analysis of the implemented citizen participation project in the frame of an international research and development project “Ecocity”.
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