The role of publics and deliberation at the environmental science-policy interface
25 Jun




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This webinar will launch a new discussion document from the Agile Initiative exploring the relationship between environmental knowledge, policy and the public. Environmental science, policy, and publics have always been entwined with one another, in a relationship that constitutes a central part of democracy. In the face of global challenges such as the climate and biodiversity crises, the production of environmental knowledge is becoming an ever more public affair. The document reviews the state of debates about public participation and deliberative processes in environmental science and policy-making and poses a set of provocations and discussion questions for researchers, funders, policy makers and practitioners about the role of publics and deliberation at the environmental science-policy interface.

Speakers: Molly James, Grace Wright and Dr Mark Hirons (University of Oxford), Professor Jason Chilvers (UEA) and Dr Jayne Carrick (University of Sheffield)

Register to engage with discussions on how the role of researchers, funder and policy-makers can more effectively and equitable engage relevant publics in their work. There will be opportunity for discussion in the Q&A.

A link to the discussion document will go live on the day of the event.

This discussion paper reviews the role of publics and deliberation at the environmental science-policy interface. We highlight two dominant ways to think of public(s), as either a homogenous whole, or as multiple and emerging around particular issues. The way we conceptualise public(s) will shape how and why public participation might be used. Environmental researchers and decision makers may choose to engage in public participation to steer environmental research towards more “democratic” outcomes, or to co-create new knowledge alongside publics. Deliberative democracy is one way of engaging the public through informed dialogue, reflection, and consideration of the conflicting ideas and values which are embedded in environmental challenges. We describe the foundations of deliberative democracy and some core complexities and considerations of deliberation, while assessing the role of different sources of knowledge in these processes. Public deliberation is no panacea for complex environmental challenges. It comes with risks including perpetuating a depoliticised image of global challenges as “solvable” through expert knowledge, rational conversation, and technological solutions. We attempt to articulate a path through these challenges towards a public participation which is reflexive and contextualised, and can contribute to building effective and just environmental knowledge and policy. We hope that this discussion paper, and webinar, provides a constructive basis for precipitating reflections and discussions amongst researchers and other people involved in the production and use environmental research about their role in engaging with publics.

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