Designing more effective participatory decision-making processes


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Draft presentation for DEFRA seminar 1 July 2011

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Designing more effective participatory decision-making processes

  1. 1. Designing more effective participatory decision-making processes<br />What makes stakeholder participation in environmental management work?<br />nvolved<br />
  2. 2. Participation: frustrating...<br />... yet alluring<br />
  3. 3. Barriers to participation<br />Increasingly tractable<br />
  4. 4. Barriers to participation<br />Increasingly tractable<br />
  5. 5. Overcoming barriers<br />Deeper issues may take generations to change<br />But most of these are tractable issues<br />Practical – we can make time/money and good practice skills available<br />Stakeholder scepticism: replacing bad with good practice, negative with positive experiences <br />Decision-maker scepticism: good practice can set boundaries (avoid raising false expectations via participation if no alternatives) and minimise bias<br />The key: identifying, spreading and facilitating good practice<br />
  6. 6. How can we design participatory processes that effectively engage stakeholders in policy decisions?<br />How can we harness participation to achieve social and environmental benefits, but avoid the pitfalls? <br />
  7. 7. Plan<br />Context: the Ecosystems Approach, big society & the Natural Environment White Paper<br />What can the literature tell us?<br />Preliminary findings from ongoing research<br />
  8. 8. 1. Context<br />
  9. 9. Ecosystem Approach<br />A strategy for integrated management of land, water & living resources that promotes cons-ervation & sustainable use in an equitable way<br />Emphasises<br />Decentralising environmental management<br />Inclusive stakeholder participation<br />Capturing/valuing local knowledge<br />Learning by doing (“adaptive management”)<br />
  10. 10. Ecosystem Approach<br />Much in common with localism & “big society”<br />Echoed in Natural Environment White Paper<br />Local Nature Partnerships & Natural Value Ambassadors<br />Public-private partnerships to establish Nature Improvement Areas & Payments for Nature’s Services<br />
  11. 11. Ecosystem Approach<br />To apply the Ecosystem Approach in real-life decision-making, we need to know what works best when working with stakeholders<br />How can we effectively adapt our practice to different contexts and purposes?<br />What do we know are the key elements of a successful participatory process, regardless of context?<br />
  12. 12. 2. What can the literature tell us?<br />
  13. 13. 1. Start talking to people as soon as you can<br />From concept to completion<br />Early involvement leads to higher quality and more durable decisions<br />Avoid raising false expectations: make sure there’s something to negotiate<br />
  14. 14. 2. Make sure you’re talking to the right people<br /><ul><li>The nature and legitimacy of outcomes is significantly affected by participant mix
  15. 15. Lots of methods available now for “stakeholder analysis” </li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Design the process to the goals
  16. 16. Identify goals with stakeholders
  17. 17. Be prepared to negotiate and compromise
  18. 18. Partnerships, ownership and active engagement in the process is more likely</li></ul>3. Make sure you know what people want to talk about<br />
  19. 19. <ul><li>Communicate </li></ul> e.g. information dissemination via leaflets or the mass media, hotlines and public meetings<br /><ul><li>Consult</li></ul> e.g. consultation documents, opinion polls and referendums, focus groups and surveys<br /><ul><li>Participate </li></ul> e.g. citizen’s juries, consensus conferences, task-forces and public meetings with voting<br /><ul><li>Tailor your methods to context
  20. 20. Manage power</li></ul>4. Be flexible: base level of participation & methods on your context & objectives<br />
  21. 21. <ul><li>The outcome of a participatory process is more sensitive to the manner in which it is conducted than the tools that are used
  22. 22. Don’t underestimate the power of investing in a good facilitator to bring people together and deliver high quality outcomes</li></ul>5. Get a facilitator<br />
  23. 23. 6. Put local and scientific knowledge on an equal footing<br /><ul><li>Science can help people make more informed decisions
  24. 24. Local knowledge can question assumptions, and perhaps lead to more rigorous science</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Decisions based on a combination of local and scientific knowledge may by more robust due to more comprehensive information inputs</li></li></ul><li>3. Preliminary findings from ongoing work<br />
  25. 25. Four ongoing paired projects<br />Environmental Consequences of Participatory Governance (ECOPAG): a comparative meta-analysis of 300 OECD case studies in environmental decision-making (Jens Newig)<br />Involved: in-depth interviews with those who led and participated in environmental management projects/programmes in Spain & Portugal<br />
  26. 26. Four ongoing paired projects<br />Sustainable Uplands and Ecocycles: interviews & Social Network Analysis of knowledge exchange processes across UK uplands & catchment management projects<br />
  27. 27. One Goal<br />To help people design participatory and knowledge exchange processes that are more likely to deliver the outcomes people want, by understanding why different approaches work in different contexts<br />
  28. 28. Questions (1)<br />Does participatory environmental governance – as opposed to more hierarchical, top-down approaches: <br />Improve the quality of decisions or policies, facilitate their implementation and thus achieve environmental goals more swiftly and effectively?<br />Benefit participants in other ways linked to the process e.g. learning, trust etc., and achieve their stated goals (whether related to the environment or not)?<br />
  29. 29. Questions (2)<br />Which contextual factors and which modes of participation affect the outcomes of participatory processes?<br />More broadly, what are the barriers and factors that facilitate knowledge exchange (whether via participation or not)? <br />How is knowledge transformed as it travels through peer-to-peer networks? <br />What gets into policy and practice, and why? <br />
  30. 30. Emerging lessons<br />Low participation create simple solutions: easily implemented and accepted but perhaps ineffective<br />High levels of participation may lead to deeper understanding, learning and more complex solutions: more effective but harder to apply<br />Policy makers with actual decision-making power, need to be in the process for short-termimpact <br />Can create power imbalance that limits active participation & generation of new ideas, but if not part of process, implementation less likely<br />
  31. 31. Emerging lessons<br />With participation of land managers:<br />Outcomes may be more economically/practically feasible<br />More social benefits (learning, trust etc.)<br />Outcomes more likely to be implemented in longer term<br />To get their participation, process needs to come to them and communication tailored appropriately<br />No quantitative evidence from first 47 ECOPAG cases that participation leads to more beneficial environmental outcomes<br />Group composition strongly influences outcome, so initial stakeholder analysis is important to get right<br />
  32. 32. Conclusion<br />Good practice is emerging and the evidence base is growing<br />Need to continue sharing our experience and learning from each other<br />Key lessons in your handout<br />