Proceedings of Conference. 4th-7th June 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Proceedings of Conference. 4th-7th June 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Parallel Session 5


Session 5.1. Citizens Juries/ consensus conferences

Deciding on complex knowledge; biomonitoring data and policy interpretation in Belgium

Keune H., Koppen G. , Casteleyn L. , Goorden L

University of Antwerp

When science does not have all answers, how can policy makers make up their minds about complex data on health and environment? An interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary working group developed an action-plan to deal with a large amount of biomonitoring data: the measurements of pollutants and health effects in more than 4000 inhabitants of Flanders (the Dutch part of Belgium ). Part of the development process was the growing awareness of the limits of scientific interpretation. Social scientists helped introducing a decision making procedure in which the use of scientific interpretation and ‘other’ insights complement one another. Both the scientists and the policy makers accorded the action plan. Parts of the procedure are an expert round and a jury that both will give advice to the government. One of the methods used for the jury deliberations is a multi criteria analysis. We will discuss this procedure, and the development process. We will especially focus on the contribution of the social scientists.

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Public deliberation in science and technology policy making

Patrick W. Hamlett

North Carolina State University , USA

This paper will examine an effort by a research team at North Carolina State University to adapt the Danish Consensus Conference public deliberation model to the U.S. context. It will describe ten Citizens’ Technology Forums run by the research team, including the first-ever consensus conferences that include Internet components and the first ever Internet-only consensus conferences. The CTFs have examined genetically modified foods, climate change, and nanotechnology.

Public participation on its own barricades: citizens’ jury on water management from experiment to instrument?

Bos, L., Huitema, D, van de Kerkhof, M.

Vrjie Universiteit Amsterdam  

Due to the broadening scope of water management, due to recent flooding events and due to the increasing degree of uncertainty in the effects of climate change on the water system an intensive need has arisen for the consideration of different interests and stakeholders in the traditional technocratic water management. In this paper we evaluate how current Dutch law on citizens participation in water management meets criteria for good citizens’ participation and how a more innovative approach to public participation, a citizens’ jury, meets those criteria. Four citizens’ juries were organized on water management of the Markermeer and on spatial planning. We use four criteria for evaluation: 1) authority of the process, 2) conditions of access, 3) the flow of information and 4) costs involved. From this evaluation it can be concluded that none of the instruments does and can meet the criteria for good citizens’ participation completely. Water managers should pay more attention to the variety in available instruments for citizens’ participation beside the instruments in current law. A more complex and innovative instrument as a citizens’ jury has good perspectives for involving citizens early in the decision-making for complex water policy problems. The simpler procedures for citizens’ participation in current law are more appropriate as a final check of draft policy plans. The combination of instruments utilized in a decision-making process should jointly meet the criteria for good citizens participation and should be aimed at the specific features of the water policy problem at stake.

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Session 5.2. Practical papers

Engaging community groups in discussions on science issues: The CoRWM discussion guide

Amy Sanders, Pippa Hyam, Andrew Acland, Sarah Alder

Dialogue by Design, Surrey , UK

The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) is an independent committee appointed by the UK Government. Their task is to review the options for managing those UK radioactive wastes for which there is no agreed long-term solution. CoRWM was asked to consult with a wide range of individual and organisations and to make recommendations to the UK Government in 2006. CoRWM was asked to work in an open, transparent and inclusive manner, to provide an opportunity for members of the UK public and other key stakeholder groups to participate. Their aim is to earn public trust by securing confidence in their actions. Openness requires that CoRWM operate in public and are accessible both in person and through their publications. Transparency means that they aim to make as clear as possible how, and why, they have formulated their recommendations. Although CoRWM’s programme of public and stakeholder engagement involved a variety of techniques including public open meetings, citizen and stakeholder panels, these small-group techniques could only involve a limited number of participants.

Full paper

Unfolding hydrogen: An experiment with repertory grid to elicit the relevant concepts in the debate about hydrogen

Marleen van de Kerkhof, Eefje Cuppen, Matthijs Hisschemöller

Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

This paper describes how repertory grid technique was used in an integrated as-sessment of the implementation of hydrogen in The Netherlands, in an international context. Repertory grid technique finds its origins in construct psychology and has gradually gained ground in environmental research and policy analysis too. Its basic idea is that the minds of people are ‘construct systems’ which reflect their constant efforts to make sense of the world. Repertory grid technique articulates the individ-ual construct systems of people, which helps to better understand what meaning people give to the world around them. The technique was applied in this integrated assessment to elicit the relevant concepts with regard to hydrogen as an energy carrier and to reduce ten initial hydrogen visions to three visions. These three vi-sions form the starting point of three respective stakeholder dialogue groups. The repertory grid technique was applied on a group level, in a computerized fashion. From a frequency analysis it seemed that all constructs that the participants in the repertory grid exercise used to make sense of the ten hydrogen visions were identi-fied by means of the repertory grid technique. A HOMALS analysis was used to as-sess how the participants categorized the hydrogen visions. Based on the HOMALS analysis the three hydrogen visions were formulated that serve as a starting point for three dialogue groups. The paper concludes by reflecting on the procedure of the technique, the possibilities of analysis and the use of the technique in a general (policy) context.

Full paper

Session 5.3. Transatlantic lessons

The Vaccine Policy Analysis CollaborativE (VPACE): a new model for citizen and stakeholder engagement in science policymaking

Roger Bernier

PEPPPI Steering Committee, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, USA

Background: To demonstrate the potential value of public engagement, we conducted a pilot project between June and October 2005 using a pending government decision about who first to vaccinate with limited supplies of influenza vaccine during a pandemic. Methods: Approximately 100 citizens-at-large in Atlanta and 35 to 40 stakeholders with diverse backgrounds met separately between July and October 2005 to learn the basic facts about pandemic influenza, engage in give and take discussions, weigh the tradeoffs between competing goals, and select the highest priority goals. The deliberations were presented to approximately 150 citizens-at-large in Massachusetts , Nebraska , and Oregon for their review and feedback. Results: Both citizens-at-large and stakeholders decided with a very high level of agreement that “assuring the functioning of society” should be the first goal and “reducing individual deaths and hospitalizations due to influenza” should be the second. There was little support to vaccinate young people first, to use a lottery system or to use a first-come first-served approach.

Conclusions: The project provided “proof of principle” needed in the vaccine community that a large and diverse group of citizens and stakeholders could be recruited successfully to deliberate thoughtfully, interact respectfully, and reach a productive agreement on a technical topic with a values component. The principal conclusions reached in the Pilot Project received serious consideration at the national level and were reflected in the national Pandemic Influenza Plan released in November 2005.

Consulting Europeans: experiences from the project Reprogenetics

Matthias Kaiser, Vibeke Almaas, Torunn Ellefsen

The National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT), Oslo , Norway

The EU funded project Reprogenetics is designed to critically discuss ethical aspects of modern medical reproductive and genetic technology, in particular reproductive cloning and germ line genetic therapy. Part of the project has been dedicated to the consultation of ordinary European citizens on these issues. Since it was deemed too costly and also beset with many practical obstacles, the holding of a European consensus conference was ruled out. Instead a scheme was worked out that would coordinate a series of focus groups in five European countries. The authors were in charge of this task. Besides the interest of such an endeavour for supplementary viewpoints on reproductive genetics, this public consultation was also deemed to function as a pilot project on practically achievable and relatively inexpensive European public participation and consultation schemes, with considerable interest in itself. Some representatives of the focus groups presented their work in a joint session during a conference in Budapest , November 2005. The paper will report on the original idea of how to conduct such a process with parallel focus groups, as well as on the results of this process. It will highlight the significant difficulties that were experienced along the way, as well as the encouraging feedback obtained from the participants. Cultural and political differences proved a major obstacle for coordination, and the different professional backgrounds of the local organizers added further difficulties. In spite of these sobering experiences, the authors feel strengthened in their belief that a revised scheme of such a consultation process will meet with considerable interest by European publics.

Integrating Science in Participatory Decisions for Water Quality: Case Studies from North Carolina , USA

Lynn A. Maguire

Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University USA  

North Carolina has embraced stakeholder participation in water quality management, convening public involvement processes to help design regulations for reducing nutrient loads in watersheds impaired by stormwater run-off, wastewater disposal and confined animal feeding operations, among other sources. The Tar-Pamlico and Neuse watersheds each terminate in broad, shallow estuaries susceptible to fish kills. Deciding which watershed users should do how much to reduce nutrient inputs has been contentious, prompting the state to convene stakeholder working groups to help design water quality regulations. The Tar-Pamlico process suffered from a rushed time schedule, which limited participation by non-government stakeholders and made it difficult for them to digest complex data needed to inform regulations. Most of the analysis was supplied by the convening government agency. In contrast, the Neuse process took place over several years, incorporated stakeholder input in designing water quality modeling and monitoring to support the decision process, and used a subset of technically capable stakeholders as liaison to the research effort. The Neuse process clearly followed more of the practices recommended for integrating technical analysis and public participation in environmental decisions than the Tar-Pamlico did. Less clear are the extent to which the results of the Neuse process are “better” than those of the Tar-Pamlico and what measures, both procedural and substantive, should be used to assess success. The purpose of comparing these contrasting cases is to propose measures for evaluating successful integration of science and public participation and look for evidence of successes and failures in these cases.

Full paper

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