Webinar: Citizen assemblies and deliberative processes for European Union’s Mission Ocean

Partcipants at the Koi Tū and Watercare workshops.

Learn about developing and delivering a minipublic within a research project: The Citizens’ Assembly on the Next Source of Water for Auckland, New Zealand.

The Koi Tū citizens’ assembly on the future of Auckland’s water supply is a case study that will be presented in an international webinar on participatory processes and how to use them in funding applications for European Union’s Mission Ocean.

Koi Tū staff Kristiann Allen, Dr Anne Bardsley and Dr Tatjana Buklijas share how they designed, convened, and delivered the first successful “minipublic” (citizens’ assembly) process in Aotearoa New Zealand, based around water infrastructure.

Webinar recording

The NZ context

The minipublic took place within a research project funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund, between January 2020 and February 2023.

Anne, Kristiann and Tatjana will reflect on the initial drivers for the project, the original research question and methodology, and how the research plan changed as we entered into a partnership with Auckland’s water utility company.

They will discuss the importance as well as challenges of relationships with non-academic partners in transdisciplinary research. Finally, they will consider the aftermath of the project: from its direct policy impact to the broader social and political interest in deliberative and participatory democracy in New Zealand, and new research questions arising.

About the speakers

Kristiann Allen is a senior policy practitioner-turned-researcher. She is interested in the dynamics of knowledge/policy/society interfaces, and the role of evidence-informed policy advisory processes for public decision-making. With both practical and academic experience in the distinct and contrasting processes of science advice to governments and deliberative democratic exercises, she is interested in how complex policy problems are framed and how evidence is assembled for more inclusive and equitable outcomes.

Anne Bardsley has a PhD in molecular biology and has worked extensively as a knowledge broker at the science/policy interface. Her recent work applies systems and futures thinking to complex and long-term societal issues, and looks at how better collective decisions can be made to enhance environmental and social sustainability, resilience and wellbeing in the face of rapid change.

Tatjana Buklijas is a historian and philosopher of science with a longstanding interest in the ways in which urban publics participate in the making of scientific knowledge. While the bulk of her research has been in history of biomedicine, in recent years she’s been increasingly interested in the questions around collective decision making, in particular around climate change. She teaches in Global Studies programme of the University of Auckland.

Read the full case study here

About Mission Ocean

At the core of Mission Ocean’s citizen engagement targets is a commitment to trialling innovative democratic processes and organizing citizen assemblies to engage coastal, riverine, lake and inland sea-dwelling communities in the decisions and activities that affect them.

Establishing citizen assemblies for Mission Ocean and creating an EU wide network of such processes is a key upcoming challenge of the Mission. This is reflected in the Mission Implementation Plan and yearly Horizon Europe Work Programme call topics.

Participants will learn the practical aspects of implementing citizen’s assemblies and other deliberative processes within the context of a research project. Following this, we will reflect on the specific challenges that Mission Ocean presents for such processes (multiple languages; stimulating basin-level activity and networking; linking to national processes or starting from scratch?).

These webinars will be highly useful to anyone hoping to fund projects with a strong participatory process element in alignment with Mission Ocean targets. It will also be of interest to any group or initiative that engages citizens in marine and freshwater activities in general.

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