In autumn 2024, LANDPATHS will collaborate with the Voxnadalen Biosphere Reserve to test a new method for involving citizens in research on multifunctional landscapes. Fanny Möckel, doctoral student at Uppsala University and a researcher in the sub-project Barriers and Opportunities for Change, tells us a little more about the planned ‘Deliberative mini-public’.
What would a multifunctional landscape in Voxnadalen look like in the future? Based on the conversations about this question at the LANDPATHS stakeholder workshop series, the next step is discussing the priorities in the biosphere reserve with citizens. This process will be led by myself and Tim Daw (Stockholm Resilience Centre), in collaboration with the Voxnadalen Biosphere Reserve.
Citizen engagement in sustainable planning
There are many ways to engage citizens, but LANDPATHS wants to try a new method. We will use a deliberative mini-public, which involves a randomly selected group of citizens taking part in moderated discussions in small groups on a topic of common interest. This method differs from other forms of citizen engagement, enabling participants to deliberate on ideas and proposals in more depth. There are several different formats, such as a citizen panel or a citizen jury, which have been used in several countries to discuss complex issues, including sustainable development and climate change.
In a deliberative mini-public, citizens are selected according to criteria that ensure a broad representation of the public in a small group. Over 2-3 days, citizens hear different perspectives, opinions, and expert knowledge, and then discuss the issue in depth. The process usually concludes with a common conclusion or recommendations. Citizens are compensated financially for their participation in the process.
How should the biosphere reserve develop?
Key aspects of this process are that citizens discuss a topic that affects and concerns them, and that the outcome has the potential to influence decision-making and action related to the issue. The deliberative mini-public in Voxnadalen will focus on the future development of the biosphere reserve.
The Voxnadalen biosphere reserve coordination team has committed to integrating the results of the mini-public into the forthcoming development plan for the reserve.
Planning for the deliberative mini-public is now underway – keep an eye on the blog for more updates, or contact Fanny for more information.
The UNESCO Voxnadalen Biosphere Reserve spans an area of 342,00 ha in Hälsingland and Dalarna. Read more at voxnadalen.org. This article is a summary of ‘Medborgarberedning i Biosfärområde Voxnadalen’, written by Fanny Möckel in the magazine ‘Det händer I Biosfärområde Voxnadalen – Information om Biosfärområde Voxnadalen 2023’, p.15.