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Communicating Risk and Uncertainty: The Role of Science Advise for Policy Brussels, October 14, 2010 Ortwin Renn University of Stuttgart and DIALOGIK Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Communicating Risk and Uncertainty: The Role of Science Advise for Policy Brussels, October 14, 2010 Ortwin Renn University of Stuttgart and DIALOGIK Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 Communicating Risk and Uncertainty: The Role of Science Advise for Policy Brussels, October 14, 2010 Ortwin Renn University of Stuttgart and DIALOGIK Institute Brussels, October 14, 2010 Ortwin Renn University of Stuttgart and DIALOGIK Institute

2 Part 1: Basics Essentials of Policy Making Essentials of Policy Making

3 Crucial Questions for Collectively Binding Decision Making Inclusion Who: stakeholders, scientists, public(s) What: options, policies, knowledge claims, visions Scope: multi-level governance (vertical and horizontal) Scale: space, time period, future generations Closure What counts: acceptable evidence What is more convincing: competition of arguments What option is selected: decision making rule (consensus, compromise, voting) Inclusion Who: stakeholders, scientists, public(s) What: options, policies, knowledge claims, visions Scope: multi-level governance (vertical and horizontal) Scale: space, time period, future generations Closure What counts: acceptable evidence What is more convincing: competition of arguments What option is selected: decision making rule (consensus, compromise, voting)

4 Economic System Optimizing allocation and distribution Pareto principle Distributive discourse (bargaining) Political System Sustaining Order Compatibility with universal or positive principles Normative Discourse Expert System Sustaining Meaning Methodology and Peer Review Cognitive and interpretative Discourse Social System Sustaining Relationships Mutual understanding Therapeutic Discourse Maximizing Utility /Efficiency Empathy/Fairness Evidence/Effectiveness Collectively binding norms/Legitimacy Input to Decision Making in Civil and Plural Societies

5 Part 2: Application to risk Challenges of communicating risk and uncertainty Challenges of communicating risk and uncertainty

6 Risk Characteristics Three challenges of risk management Complexity in assessing causal and temporal relationships Uncertainty variation among individual targets measurement and inferential errors genuine stochastic relationships system boundaries and ignorance Ambiguity in interpreting results Complexity in assessing causal and temporal relationships Uncertainty variation among individual targets measurement and inferential errors genuine stochastic relationships system boundaries and ignorance Ambiguity in interpreting results

7 Special Challenge: Systemic Risks Characteristics Highly complex Second order uncertainty (non-knowledge) High interpretative and normative ambiguity Open system boundaries (ripple effect) Problems Limits of quantification Plurality of risk assessment results and uncertainty characterization System breakdown possible Potential for high social mobilization Characteristics Highly complex Second order uncertainty (non-knowledge) High interpretative and normative ambiguity Open system boundaries (ripple effect) Problems Limits of quantification Plurality of risk assessment results and uncertainty characterization System breakdown possible Potential for high social mobilization

8 Objectives of Risk Communication Enlightenment: Making people able to understand risks and become risk-literate Behavioral changes: Making people aware of potential risks and help them to take protective actions Trust building: Assisting risk management agencies to generate and sustain trust Conflict resolution: Assisting risk managers to involve major stakeholders and affected parties to take part in the risk management process Enlightenment: Making people able to understand risks and become risk-literate Behavioral changes: Making people aware of potential risks and help them to take protective actions Trust building: Assisting risk management agencies to generate and sustain trust Conflict resolution: Assisting risk managers to involve major stakeholders and affected parties to take part in the risk management process

9 Relevance of Risk Communication Health and Safety are top concerns of people in industrial countries People demand more information and transparency on decisions that affect their welfare Trust in traditional decision makers is low and replaced by demand of participation Risk communication is legally demanded in many countries Health and Safety are top concerns of people in industrial countries People demand more information and transparency on decisions that affect their welfare Trust in traditional decision makers is low and replaced by demand of participation Risk communication is legally demanded in many countries

10 Part 3: Science-Policy Interface Communicating risk to policy makers Communicating risk to policy makers

11 Three challenges of risk communication Complexity: defies public wisdom and intuition Uncertainty: disappoints public expectation for certainty in the sciences Contradicts deterministic world view Risk of decreasing legitimacy (science and policy makers) Ambiguity: leaves impression of arbitrariness Complexity: defies public wisdom and intuition Uncertainty: disappoints public expectation for certainty in the sciences Contradicts deterministic world view Risk of decreasing legitimacy (science and policy makers) Ambiguity: leaves impression of arbitrariness

12 Approaches to Meet These Challenges I Dealing with Complexity Characterization of robust systematic knowledge Interdisciplinary expert input Emphasis on methodology, peer review and impartiality Dealing with uncertainty Discernment between known and uncertain Options that enhance resilience Emphasis on finding right balance between innovation and precaution Dealing with Complexity Characterization of robust systematic knowledge Interdisciplinary expert input Emphasis on methodology, peer review and impartiality Dealing with uncertainty Discernment between known and uncertain Options that enhance resilience Emphasis on finding right balance between innovation and precaution

13 Approaches to Meet These Challenges II Dealing with Ambiguity Inclusion of public values and aspirations Focus on normative reasoning Emphasis on fairness Integrating all three levels Several parallel discourse activities Transdisciplinary approaches Necessity for new integrative methods of linking different types of knowledge and values Dealing with Ambiguity Inclusion of public values and aspirations Focus on normative reasoning Emphasis on fairness Integrating all three levels Several parallel discourse activities Transdisciplinary approaches Necessity for new integrative methods of linking different types of knowledge and values

14 Complexity Epistemic Use experts to find valid, reliable and relevant knowledge about the risk Uncertainty Reflective Involve all affected stakeholders to collectively decide best way forward Ambiguity Participative Include all actors so as to expose, accept, discuss and resolve differences Simple Instrumental Find the most cost-effective way to make the risk acceptable or tolerable Agency Staff Dominant risk characteristic Type of participation Actors STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT Agency Staff Scientists/ Researchers Affected stakeholders « Civil society » Scientists/ Researchers Affected stakeholders As the level of knowledge changes, so also will the type of participation need to change

15 Part 5: Lessons Orientations for scientific communicators Orientations for scientific communicators

16 Five major conditions for success of policy advise Consensus among experts on limits of legitimate cognitive knowledge Between absurd and possible Between possible and probable Between probable and (almost) certain Ability to analytically separate cognitive, interpretative, evaluative and normative knowledge claims Consensus among experts on limits of legitimate cognitive knowledge Between absurd and possible Between possible and probable Between probable and (almost) certain Ability to analytically separate cognitive, interpretative, evaluative and normative knowledge claims

17 Five major conditions for success form policy advise Ability to connect to political decision making process (Anschlussfähigkleit ) timing, framing, type and style of argumentation Legitimization power for external input from stakeholders and affected individuals Ability to communicate results to relevant policy makers and/or the public Ability to connect to political decision making process (Anschlussfähigkleit ) timing, framing, type and style of argumentation Legitimization power for external input from stakeholders and affected individuals Ability to communicate results to relevant policy makers and/or the public

18 Needs for improving relationship Integrated concepts of linking disciplines and perspectives Transdisciplinary methodology Evidence based science for cognitive claims (incl. uncertainty) Focus on interface between cognitive claims, interpretations (frames), evaluations and normative conclusions Key focus on governance: Policy making as product of discourse between politics, economics, civil society and science Institutional arrangements such as innovation networks, policy platforms and public-private partnerships Creation of a stimulating learning environment Link of research and operational practice Need for regular forums between policy makers, stakeholders and scientists Integrated concepts of linking disciplines and perspectives Transdisciplinary methodology Evidence based science for cognitive claims (incl. uncertainty) Focus on interface between cognitive claims, interpretations (frames), evaluations and normative conclusions Key focus on governance: Policy making as product of discourse between politics, economics, civil society and science Institutional arrangements such as innovation networks, policy platforms and public-private partnerships Creation of a stimulating learning environment Link of research and operational practice Need for regular forums between policy makers, stakeholders and scientists

19 Conclusions The Role of Science and the Public(s) Science provides systematic knowledge claims and methods to judge validity of claims Science faces problems when dealing with complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity Public input needed for understanding concerns, including experiential and local knowledge, and providing guidelines to resolve ambiguity and to handle uncertainty Need for Discourse Activities Complexity: consensus on causal and temporal trends Uncertainty: enhancement of resilience and flexibility Ambiguity: integration of values and preferences of the affected publics The Role of Science and the Public(s) Science provides systematic knowledge claims and methods to judge validity of claims Science faces problems when dealing with complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity Public input needed for understanding concerns, including experiential and local knowledge, and providing guidelines to resolve ambiguity and to handle uncertainty Need for Discourse Activities Complexity: consensus on causal and temporal trends Uncertainty: enhancement of resilience and flexibility Ambiguity: integration of values and preferences of the affected publics

20 Quote To progress in knowledge and action means to doubt what conventional wisdom suggests (Aristotle) To progress in knowledge and action means to doubt what conventional wisdom suggests (Aristotle)

21 Four Systems of Society: Internal Mechanisms, Social Functions and Synergisms Economic System Property rights Private contracts Compensation for external effects Political System Due Process Power divsion Voting Expert System Test of truth claims Instrumental Knowledge Enlightenment Social System Mutual Understanding Empathy Lifestyles Efficiency Acceptability Fairness Effectiveness Legitimacy Expert Advisory Panels Consulting Participation Meditation

22 Models of Science and Policy Interplay Technocratic Models (Decision function) Science in the superior role of advising and recommending Decisionistic Models (Advising function) Majority of commissions Science advising, political actors decision making Corporatistic Models (Interest balancing) Science, stakeholders and public policy makers Club atmosphere Participative Models (Empowerment) Science shops Internet consultants Consensus conferencing Technocratic Models (Decision function) Science in the superior role of advising and recommending Decisionistic Models (Advising function) Majority of commissions Science advising, political actors decision making Corporatistic Models (Interest balancing) Science, stakeholders and public policy makers Club atmosphere Participative Models (Empowerment) Science shops Internet consultants Consensus conferencing

23 Contribution of Science to Policy Makers Orientation Enlightenment Instrumental Knowledge Understanding situation Providing meaning Sharpening of judgmental focus Legitimizing Politics Reference to truth and cognitive authority Systematic knowledge and expertise as means of power and influence Experts as useful means for staging enlightened leaders Gaining of public acceptance Orientation Enlightenment Instrumental Knowledge Understanding situation Providing meaning Sharpening of judgmental focus Legitimizing Politics Reference to truth and cognitive authority Systematic knowledge and expertise as means of power and influence Experts as useful means for staging enlightened leaders Gaining of public acceptance

24 Learning Experiences for Science Orientation Experiential knowledge Local Knowledge Identification of concerns Worldviews and visions Legitimizing Science Reference to public needs Assurance of practical implications Support by public actors (financial, in-kind, symbolic) Gaining of public acceptance Orientation Experiential knowledge Local Knowledge Identification of concerns Worldviews and visions Legitimizing Science Reference to public needs Assurance of practical implications Support by public actors (financial, in-kind, symbolic) Gaining of public acceptance

25 Science-Policy Connection Three challenges Complexity in assessing causal and temporal relationships Uncertainty variation among individual targets measurement and inferential errors genuine stochastic relationships system boundaries and ignorance Ambiguity in interpreting results Interpretative Normative Complexity in assessing causal and temporal relationships Uncertainty variation among individual targets measurement and inferential errors genuine stochastic relationships system boundaries and ignorance Ambiguity in interpreting results Interpretative Normative


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