Designing more effective participatory decision-making processes

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Draft presentation for DEFRA seminar 1 July 2011

Draft presentation for DEFRA seminar 1 July 2011

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