In recent years, DCEA has placed great focus on problematic issues arising when involving the public from areas affected by larger projects with potential human or environmental impacts. We have thus engaged in a case concerning a possible waste deposit for nuclear waste in Denmark and we have initiated two PhD projects on public participation.
The Danish Centre for Environmental Assessment
Research in Public Participation
Public Participation in SIA in Greenland
This PhD project focuses on Public Participation in Social Impact Assessment (SIA) processes of petroleum exploration activities offshore Northwest Greenland. The activities in the area are rapidly evolving, but legislation and practice of public participation and SIA is still in its early stages. At present, no specific guidelines as to carry out public participation exist, which leaves many questions unanswered.
The population in the Northwest area is scarce and wide scattered, and the livelihood of many rests on fisheries and hunting. The entering of large multinational companies is thus source of great concern at both a regional and national level. Worries that companies run off with all the potential profit, leaving the local communities to deal with the potential negative impacts, flourish in the public debate. This places public participation high on the agenda as the public, Greenlandic - and international NGOs and associations call for more information, transparency and a chance for the communities to have greater influence on the decision making process.
The project sets out to investigate: How do the stakeholders involved in the SIA process approach public participation? What are the perceived purposes of public participation among stakeholders, and how might these perceptions affect the effectiveness and outcome of public participation? What are the specific challenges to public participation in Greenland, and how could these be addressed?
For further information on this project please contact Anna Sofie Hurup Skjervedal.
Public Participation and Infrastructural Planning
The aim of this project is to investigate how the process concerning planning and public participation within energy infrastructure can become more constructive. In recent cases of infrastructural planning, the process of public participation has shown insufficiencies and examples of constructive citizen input being overheard. As a consequence, the focus of this research project is on the development of a forum where all parties of a planning process can provide input and be heard. A focal issue is the balance between improved possibilities for participation and an open and constructive process at the one hand, and at the same time avoid that the initiatives give rise to negative participation. The project team has initiated a survey among practitioners under the heading: “Public participation - are we doing it good enough?”. The survey received 80 responses and showed an overall wish for improvements - just over 50% of the respondents wanted an improved process within their organisation.