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Environmental information disclosure and societal preferences for urban river restoration: Latent class modelling of a discrete-choice experiment

Chen, Wendy Y., Ting Cho, Frankie Hin
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.231 pp. 1294-1306
citizen participation, ecological restoration, environmental factors, information transparency, models, rivers, surveys, China
Governments worldwide have embraced mandatory environmental information disclosure as a vital and indispensable component of their strategies to improve environmental conditions. However, the pathways through which environmental information disclosure can effectively mobilize public support for environmental management initiatives is not well understood. On the basis of latent class modelling of discrete choice experiment survey data in Shaoguan city (Guangdong province, south China), we investigate the impacts of passive disclosure (public simply receive environmental information) and active disclosure (public purposefully interact with environmental information providers) on residents’ heterogeneous preferences pertaining to an urban river restoration project. We find that passive environmental information transparency could successfully motivate public participation and support, while active environmental information accessibility tends to hinder public participation. Respondents either act as non-supporters, or fail to lucidly convey their preferences, if they have directly contacted local authorities or attended environmental events to purposefully collect environmental information via two-way interactive communications. The positive and favourable effect of passive environmental information disclosure on public environmental participation is notable. Yet, if we fail to enhance the effectiveness of active environmental information disclosure, we will miss a unique opportunity to transform public environmental awareness and interest into a useful catalyst for aligning public support with governmental environmental management goals.