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Functional-dynamic public participation in technological decision-making: site selection processes of nuclear waste repositories

Pius Krütli, Michael Stauffacher, Thomas Flüeler and Roland W. Scholz

Journal of Risk Research, 2010, vol. 13, issue 7, 861-875

Abstract: Projects for the long-term disposal of radioactive waste have often been hampered by strong local and regional opposition. Public participation has been recognized as a means to cope with this problem. Advocates promoting extensive public participation suggest various, mostly distinct, involvement techniques that are claimed to cover all needs. However, public participation is still a controversial issue. Several key questions need to be answered: why and when should who be involved, by whom, using which technique, and with which expected outcome? Here, a procedure with a functional-dynamic view of public participation is proposed that combines the decision-making process (DMP) with specific types and extents of public participation. We distinguish four discrete levels of public participation, namely information, consultation, collaboration, and empowerment. We argue that these levels of participation must fit the corresponding technical and non-technical requirements of the different phases of the DMP and illustrate our arguments using a proposed site selection process for nuclear waste. This means that the type and the extent of public participation vary over the time span of a long-term DMP.

Date: 2010
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