The contribution of forums to rural sustainable development: A preliminary evaluation

A. J. Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper assesses the contribution that forums have made in progressing sustainable land use policies and decisions within rural Wales. The examples of Cardigan Bay Forum and Wales Rural Forum are used to show how sustainability has been addressed within their overall agendas. The contemporary debate about sustainable development has provoked a new organizational response with forums visible in many activities and initiatives. The traditional adversarial approach between groups has been replaced by a more sophisticated and complex assemblage of bodies that together create the forum ideal. Consensus, partnership and mutual understanding form the language of this new discourse. However, their presence raises certain key questions as to their role, purpose, representativeness and value in rural resource management debates. These questions have not been considered in the literature, and with the increasing proliferation of forums generally, there is a need to assess whether they are bringing about real and effective change. The two examples reveal clear evidence of forums as agents of change. However there is considerable tension within both forums, within a climate of financial and membership vulnerability, between the need for involving all legitimate interests and the need to achieve meaningful outcomes for individual members. Such tension goes to the heart of who the two forums actually represent and their resulting actions. The way that these tensions have been reconciled lie at the heart of the forum phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-303
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes


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