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Understanding Stakeholder Participation in Research as Part of Sustainable Development

A paper reporting on the use of Triple Task in participating in research as part of the EU POINT project

Abstract:
Participation is often presented as a ‘good’ thing and a fairer way to represent views and opinions outside narrow confines of interest and expertise. However, the roots of participatory approaches within research contexts are deep and numerous twists and turns demonstrate a confused and possibly confusing morphology with significant gaps and weaknesses.
In this paper ‘via the medium’ of the POINT (Policy Influence of Indicators) research project we trace elements of the recent history of group participation in sustainable development and the emergence of focus on four areas, most significantly how participatory methods are used. In the absence of strong evidence to contrary we suggest that the issue of how participants engage in participation remains a significant weakness for the field. In order to counter the apparent gap we suggest that a certain degree of structure and process can provide the oeuvre of participatory approaches with a higher degree of transparency in the research process and, by focus on the use of a method called Triple Task, group participatory events can be encouraged to yield greater insights into the workings of groups of all kinds.

Science Direct Link

Bell, S., Morse, S. and Shah, R. (2012). Understanding stakeholder participation in research as part of sustainable development. Journal of Environmental Management. 101, pp. 13 – 22.

Policy Influence of Indicators (POINT) EU FP7 Project

The demand for and supply of indicators for environmental and sustainability policies have increased during the last decades. Main drivers behind this trend include a wish from international institutions to compare the environmental or other performance across countries and sectors, a need to satisfy transparency and accountability requirements in policy performance evaluations, and a call for general information and communication with the public on sustainable development and the state of the environment.

But are such indicators actually used in policy processes and do they have any influence on policy outcomes? These were the key questions posed in the EU FP7 project POINT – Policy Influence of Indicators.
The POINT project began in 2008 with the aim of exploring the use and influence of indicators broadly with the area of sustainable development policies as its main focus. A number of case studies were conducted, covering indicators in sector integration, indicators for sustainable development and also composite sustainability indicators, such as the Ecological Footprint (EF).

EU CORDIS Project Description

Project Overview

Transdisciplinary Sustainability: The Council for Frontiers of Knowledge

This paper represents an overview of the various transdisciplinary domains of interest to a number of Directors of the Council for Frontiers of Knowledge

Extract:

More about this organisation shortly; in this brief introduction I want to set out the scope and vision of this paper. Many agencies exist – charitable, public sector and private – with a mission to improve the flow and uptake of ideas, innovations and useful practice across borders. This journal regularly publishes papers, which describe organisations and agencies that develop themes of knowledge transfer and sustainable intellectual practice. The CFK is one such agency. As will be shown, the CFK is no silver bullet to all the issues that beset the continent, nor is it attempting to confront or engage with the plethora of political and ethical concerns that beset development more widely. CFK is concerned with ideas. This paper contains an overview of the various trans-disciplinary domains of interest to the Directors of the CFK in partnership with some of their African colleagues and an insight into how this work is being applied. In a series of vignettes the key interests of some of the CFK Directors are elaborated and the overall mission of the CFK is revealed. Each article in the collective and synthetic piece can be seen as an observation from a particular edge of human understanding. Together they combine to form a braided strand with common yet distinct threads.

In the introductory piece Atkins Katusabe and Pamela Weathers set out the history of the CFK and place its origin and intention in the contemporary era. Simon Bell and Stephen Morse using the CFK community itself, discuss the potential for participation to be made more inclusive and the outcomes to be evidence-based. Dermot Diamond addresses the twin issues of sensing technologies for health diagnostics and distributed environmental sensing and describes how CFK can foster the inclusion of more African researchers. Jenny Emnéus, Filipo Bosco and Cecilia Agrell discuss a unique programme of mentoring – instigated within the CFK and beginning to show powerful outcomes. Anthony Guiseppi-Elie and Francis Moussy then focus on medical diagnostics and discuss the potential for use in the largely low income countries of Africa. Jim Lynch describes research in technologies for monitoring and assessing de-forestation and, building on this, the current Chair of the CFK Board of Directors, Fionn Murtagh, discusses the role of Information and Communication technologies as both a challenge to, and an indicator of, development in Africa. PK Nair takes up the synthetic theme of this article in his piece which promotes the integrated nature of agro-forestry as key to Africa’s productive sustainability. Finally, Pamela Weathers and Alice Amoding consider the value of Artemisia annua and the effect of this important medicinal plant in terms of its potential impact on the cultivation of food crops in developing countries that are prone to malaria.

Cecilia Agrell, Simon Bell, Filipo Bosco, Dermot Diamond, Jenny Emnéus, Anthony Guiseppi-Elie, Atkins Katusabe, Jim Lynch, Stephen Morse, Francis G. Moussy, Fionn Murtagh, P. K. R. Nair, Pamela J. Weathers . (2014) Transdisciplinary Sustainability: The Council for Frontiers of Knowledge. International Journal of Transdisciplinary Research. 7, 1, pp. 1-26

Link to PDF

The Council for Frontiers of Knowledge

Imagine Coastal Sustainability


Abstract:

Imagine Coastal Sustainability
 Simon BellSince 2000 Coastal Area Management Programmes (CAMPs) supported by UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) and the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC) have been engaging local communities in assessment of their coastal sustainability. The Methods used since 2000 have been based upon an evolving methodology which is now called Imagine.
In 2010 The CAMP Levante de Almeria began. “Imagine the future of our coast” is the slogan selected for this project which is intended to turn this area of southern Spain into a sustainability laboratory. The CAMP Levante de Almeria project is a test and a practical demonstration of how to implement Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) concepts in Spain in compliance with the ICZM Protocol (the seventh protocol in the framework of the Barcelona Convention). CAMP acts technically, environmentally and socially as a means to design and implement new practices, relating these to vertical and horizontal coordination between local and regional administration and public participation in decision-making processes related to the coastal zone. The fundamental objective of the project is to achieve wide scale agreement on the sustainable development of the coast.
Drawing upon the history of the various CAMP projects, this paper explores progress made so far in the application of the Imagine methodology in CAMP Levante de Almeria and, by contrasting it with sum- mary observations emerging from earlier Imagine applications in Malta, Lebanon, Algeria, Slovenia and Cyprus draws conclusions on the value of engaging coastal communities in sustainability self- assessment.

Science Direct Link

Bell, S., Correa Pena, A., Prem, M. (2013). Imagine coastal sustainability. Ocean and Coastal Management, 83, pp. 39 – 51.

From Sustainable Community to Big Society: 10 Years Learning with the Imagine Approach

Abstract:

From Sustainable Community to Big Society: 10 Years Learning with the Imagine Approach Simon BellCommunity is a key word in the current UK political vocabulary. As part of Big Society or as a sustainable means to develop social coherence, community has been an area of focus that has attained UK political party interest since 2003. In 1999, the Imagine method was first hinted at in the Earthscan book: “Sustainability Indicators: measuring the immeasurable”. The approach allows citizens to learn about and self-evaluate their own sustainability by developing their own sustainability indicators in a manner which is participatory and evidence based. Communities could make use of the approach, not in an attempt to arrive at some “absolute” value of sustainability but in striving to achieve a self-knowing sense of how sustainable they are, by their own measured indicators, and to use this evaluation in discourse with other agencies such as local and national government. The tone of Imagine is to empower citizens to own their own sustainability and to plan for sustainable futures. The method, developed for spatial and temporal sustainability assessment, has been trialled by countries in the Mediterranean region within Coastal Area Management Programmes (CAMPs). Building off this engagement with geographically and culturally diverse communities, the method has been supported by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in the UK and developed into a teaching module that has been subsequently tested at undergraduate, postgraduate, continuing professional development (CPD), Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and working with practitioners, as a hands-on Masterclass. The resulting course Creating Sustainable Communities (CSC) has now been introduced to 20 UK universities and has seen use by seven of them. This paper tracks the development of the Imagine method, explores its major elements and sets out the learning impacts it has had to date.

Bell, S. 2011. From Sustainable Community to Big Society: 10 years learning with the Imagine approach. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education. 20, 3, pp 247 – 267.

Measuring and Evaluating – Introducing Imagine

How the Imagine Approach Captures Context and Leads to Sustainability

The Imagine approach is intended to assist organisations and communities of all kinds to improve their long-term sustainability. It provides a rapid means to:

  • Gain a clear understanding of the context in which the organisation or community finds itself and the challenges it faces.
  • Identify the main indicators which can be used to measure progress made in facing these challenges.
  • Assess the overall message of these indicators and thereby assess the current sustainability of the organisation or community.
  • Consider the current challenges, make scenarios of possible undesirable and desirable futures.
  • Assess progress made in either achieving or remaining clear of these futures in the light of current challenges.

Imagine requires the organisation to invest in no additional capital assets such as software or personnel. It is a facilitated workshop process in which a series of tools are applied to enable local decision makers to map their own context and model sustainable futures. In a series of four half day Imagine events, stakeholders from within the organisation or community come together with a facilitator to engage in the process. Imagine is Rapid, Participatory and Holistic It provides organisations and communities with empowering, evidence-based information … helping them to gain a clear insight into a sustainable future. Rich Pictures (such as seen at the top of the page) are used to map the initial context and amoeba diagrams provide an overview of how things were, are and (importantly) could be. Imagine is not Expert driven, Top down or Exclusive and full of technical language.

 

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