WP4: Participation, knowledge and mediation structures / Forest Research Institute

Together with WP3, this work package focuses on the social dimensions of sustainable economy by asking what kinds of social dynamics operate in conflicts relating to land-use and in decision-making processes. The research discusses how different kinds of public or local preferences may be incorporated into land-use planning, giving due consideration to the difficulties associated with accurate representation and timing, stimulating interest and overcoming barriers to participation.

The role of different kinds of knowledge in environmental decision-making will be evaluated through documentary analysis of planning and other policy processes related to mining in the Arctic. By examining the use of different kinds of knowledge collected in the course of earlier natural resource management processes, this WP will provide a more nuanced understanding of the processes of the co-creation of knowledge in actual decision-making and the use of collected knowledge. The timing of participatory procedures also needs careful evaluation. Based on the documentary analysis and relevant literature, we will build an understanding of the role of the different kinds of knowledge and procedural factors that affect consensus building.

Mediation can be seen as a continuation of the interactive planning process: the purpose is to achieve mutual understanding whereas the ‘normal’ participatory planning process only collects different views and generates some dialogue between the participants. We will conduct, in each case study area, a pilot study of a forum that exchanges knowledge and attempts to establish a consensus on the salient facts. We bring the results of the methods developed in WP1 and WP2 to bear in constructing these forums as an addition to lay knowledge gathered through established participatory practices and proceed to test the role of various kinds of knowledge for achieving consensus. Mediation practices will be developed using action research methods, with specific emphasis placed on the co-creation of knowledge through citizen juries, collaborative workshops and joint fact-finding.

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