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10 October - Local government

Goda Perlaviciute (Environmental Psychology, RUG) & Lorenzo Squintani (Law, RUG)
Goda Perlaviciute (Environmental Psychology, RUG) & Lorenzo Squintani (Law, RUG)

Public participation and sustainability
To combat climate change and its negative impacts, it is critical to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. However, the proposed sustainable energy projects, e.g. wind parks and geothermal energy projects, often face public resistance, which can bring sustainable energy transition to a halt. This raises a question how to increase public acceptability of sustainable energy projects.

One possible solution is to increase public participation in decision making around energy projects. Ideally, through public participation, different groups and values in society can be better represented in decision making, leading to qualitative better energy projects that are more socially acceptable. But is public participation really a silver bullet for controversial energy projects? In practice, public participation procedures are often exclusive and dominated by homogeneous – typically elite – groups. Furthermore, public participation can sometimes inflame conflicts and divisiveness between different groups, leading to even stronger resistance against the proposed energy projects.

In this lecture, we will address the key challenges surrounding public participation. Based on insights from Law and Environmental psychology, we will present a novel approach to effective public participation, namely the equal-opportunities and human-values approach. You will be challenged to think about how to organize public participation in a way that promotes inclusion of different groups and values in society and strengthens public acceptability of the sustainable energy transition. You will partake in a simulated public participation procedure, playing a role of an important stakeholder and having to deal with different – possibly conflicting – perspectives of other participants.

Last modified:28 August 2018 10.19 a.m.
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