European environmental strategies focus in addressing the environmental impacts of consumption and production and inform better to consumers about environmental issues (Álvarez, Vega & García-Mira, 2012). Nevertheless, year by year, environmental crisis effects increase and more drastic measures are needed in the face of huge environmental challenges such as climate change and the rapid loss of natural resources and biodiversity. Fundamental changes are required in how natural resources are extracted and the way products are produced, distributed, used and disposed of. Action is needed -from individuals and industry through to central and local government- and citizens need to be well informed, empowered and feel that their actions make a difference.

Environmental education is needed to change values, attitudes and people's behaviour and to promote citizen's action competence to assess and look for solutions to current environmental problems and carry them out in practice (Uzzell, 1999; Losada Otero & García-Mira, 2003). This involves a democratic system of cooperation and, in this sense, public participation has been considered one of the key factors to reverse current unsustainable trends. Many experiences in Europe and worldwide have proved that stakeholders and the general public contribute positively to management processes. Multiple outcomes of participatory process have been described in the literature (Dumitru et al., 2013; Palh-Wholst, 2007; Dalton, 2006). Involving the public in management helps facilitate information sharing, develop innovative management strategies, enhance support of decisions and ensure that decisions reflect the values and interests of a democratic society, such as influence on decisions, exchange of information, access to the process and transparent decision making.

This paper will review the most common experiences and outcomes of public participation in Spain -traditionally top-down policy-driven- comparing with recent more collaborative bottom-up initiatives that aim a transition to sustainable communities and organizations (García-Mira et al., 2013; Dumitru et al., 2013). Specially, we analyse the non-formal environmental education processes that can emerge in those participation experiences, reviewing the different approaches that recent social science literature have propose about the evaluation of social learning .