Citizens' Voices in Environmental Policy

The Contribution of Integrated Assessment Focus Groups to Accountable Decision-Making
  • Martin Welp
  • Bernd Kasemir
  • Carlo C. Jaeger

Environmental problems are becoming increasingly complex. They are no longer limited to reducing a toxic by-product of a specific activity by some well-defined technological fix. Rather, for issues like climate change mitigation or integrated water management, intricate interactions among many natural and social systems have to be taken into account. Scientific uncertainties are significant, and many actors with diverging interests are involved. This has far-reaching implications for the roles of experts and of stakeholders, including ordinary citizens, in environmental policy-making.

On the one hand, the role of science and expert knowledge is changing. Major uncertainties, both in the science and the politics of environmental issues, mean that expert knowledge cannot provide a complete and uncontestable description of the issues. Rather than offering clear and compelling advice to determine policy, such expert knowledge becomes only one part of a broader process of social learning (Beck, 1994: 1–55; see also Lemos & Morehouse, 2005). While expert knowledge is required more than ever to address today's complex environmental problems, it is needed as evidence informing societal debates (Jasanoff, 1991: 29–47), rather than in the mode captured by the familiar aphorism of ‘speaking truth to power’.


Focus Group Expert Knowledge Climate Policy Public Participation Integrate Assessment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Applied Sciences EberswaldeFaculty of Forest and EnvironmentEberswaldeGermany
  2. 2.Sustainserv GmbH (European office)Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchZürichSwitzerland
  3. 3.PIK-PotsdamPotsdam

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