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Theoretical investigations to select and assess different participatory approaches in order to deal with environmental problems – the example of the transformation of the German energy sector
Doctoral student: Regina Schröter
Doctoral adivisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ortwin Renn
Start date: January 2012

Abstract

The transformation of the energy sector in Germany poses several challenges. The accelerated phase-out of nuclear energy and the demand for considerable CO2 reductions in order to prevent climate change are among the most pressing energy policy issues. Seen from an ecological perspective, these policies need to be implemented in the near future and contain the potential for serious social controversies.

Confronted with these problems, public participation methods seem promising. Scholars in the field of citizen participation emphasize their potential for gaining more public acceptance of political decisions. Other advantages, such as a better exchange of information between citizens and political decision makers, are also mentioned in the literature. But there are limitations as well. Empirical research indicates that citizen participation might have adverse effects, for instance delaying planning processes or resolving conflicts in line with the most powerful actors in society.

The question if there are participation concepts and formats that are more suitable in certain cases than others remains unresolved. This work will focus on the theoretical basics that seem to be promising in choosing participation mechanisms, which lead to a fair and efficient solution.