This volume is also part of a series of publications that attempts to draw conclusions on a pan-European level by taking an overview of trends and practices in the NIS countries, Central and Eastern European region and the Western countries. The series is being prepared through a cooperative effort by the REC, the European Environmental Bureau and Ecopravo-Lviv based on surveys from 15 CEE countries, 5 NIS countries and 11 Western European countries. The concept and outline of the project was discussed by the REC Public Participation Working Group including NGO and governmental experts from the NIS, CEE and the West. (See more about the methodology on page 7). Jeremy Wates, Fe Sanchis Moreno (EEB) and Magda Toth Nagy (REC) were the major project partners of Ecopravo-Lviv involved in the European-wide cooperation and coordination of regional activities.
After the collapse of the USSR, many democratic principles were adopted in the Newly Independent States (NIS), including access to information and public participation in environmental decisionmaking. New tendencies of participatory democracy were born, new sprouts of democracy were raised and have grown in practice in the form of referenda, public hearings or first court cases and litigation on environmental issues connected with the protection of citizens' rights. Nevertheless, the level of public environmental consciousness and awareness is still rather low because of the focus on economic issues in the countries in transition, lack of tradition of public participation in decisionmaking, and distrust of governmental bodies and especially of the independent court system. These problems make the realization and implementation of "paper democracy" more important yet more difficult.