Public participation and governance of innovation

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Contemporary techno-scientific innovations have raised a fall in traditional decision making processes showing the weakness of experts’ system and the traditional alliance with politicians in western societies. These innovations have undergo hard trials for conventional processes of decision making based on representative democracy in the coming of strong technological innovations.

The use of GMO’s in agriculture and the food production represent one of the most emblematic case in this realm, causing a divisive debate among social actors. Contemporary reflections over that issue and recent UE documents underline the value to collect social needs and claims of the civil society, to conduct an effective innovation’s policy.

In the recent years, given several types of troubles mentioned before, it has developed a wide discussion over decisions’ processes concerning uncertainties’ practices in the democratic system, causing by the introduction of wider techno-scientific innovation.

On this line the Region Lombardia has conducted an institutional experimentation, in collaboration with the Bassetti Foundation and Observa, regarding the involvement of citizens and others social actors, managing the issue of GMO’s experimentation in open field.

Two alternative panel methods were tested and overall the initiative brought citizens to interact openly with experts and stakeholders, triggering an interesting and constructive debate.

The project, among the first regarding that issue in Italy, has produced interesting results:

  • decisions’ processes could be improved with specific consideration of citizens’ issues
  • participative procedure will able to know main aspects regarding risk and uncertainties perceived from actors involved.

The ongoing evaluation’s process of the initiative will be suggest new perspectives for decision makers in order to improve participation’s methods and to find out new tools for managing uncertainties.