Consensus conference – our ocean

June 2, 2020

How far are we willing to go in protecting the marine environment?

For most of us, the ocean is something we look at. Few of us are particularly concerned with what happens at sea or how we administrate maritime activities. However, the relationship between humans and the ocean involves plenty of problems that are rarely brought up in the public debate.

Activities at sea

There are many activities at sea: Fishery, sea farming, raw material extraction, shipping, windmills, outdoor recreation, and much more. Common to these activities is that they are dependent upon a healthy marine environment but also impact it. This causes a number of dilemmas. Which activities are the most important? And how big an impact on the marine environment are we willing to accept?

These are some of the important questions that need to be addressed by the public.

Creating consensus about legislation

To raise the public attention about the marine environment and to expand the political debate with views and opinions of the citizens, we apply a method called the consensus conference.

The consensus conference is a democratic method for getting qualified inputs from citizens to a decision-making process. The citizens receive information about a topic, form and discuss their opinions, and consult experts with the aim of reaching consensus about a list of policy recommendations. The citizens are selected so that they represent a wide range of lived experiences without any professional knowledge of the topic and so they vary across gender, age, geography, education, and interests.

Consensus conference for complex and disputed subjects

The method is especially suited for involving citizens in technical, controversial, and complex problems. It supplements traditional decision-making processes by creating a space where citizens can meet and exchange informed and considered views on socially relevant subjects.

The consensus conference was taken into use for the first time in 1987, and since it has been applied successfully a number of times on subjects such as gene technology, GMOs, edu-tech, mobility, treatment of infertility, environment, surveillance and much more.

It has even been applied internationally and has inspired the development of several other democratic innovations.

You can read more here (in Danish)

This project is funded by The Velux Foundation