Communicating climate policies that affect people's everyday lives and their future: A case study of Arendal's region local transport plan
This autumn, the Centre for Digital Transformation, Faculty of Social Sciences, has undertaken a research project in cooperation with Bynett Sør and Klimapartnere Agder about climate communication & participation, opposition to road tolls and the Housing, spatial and transport development plan in Arendal region – the ATP (https://www.atp-arendalsregionen.no/). The goal of the research project is to provide advice on how to improve climate communication and participation practices at the municipality and county levels. While my role in it has been to assist the project implementation, I also share a deep interest in the topic.
The ATP development plan involves the municipalities of Arendal, Grimstad, Froland and Tvedestrand, in southern Norway.
The goal of the research project is to provide advice on how to improve climate communication and participation practices at the municipality and county levels. Our focus has been on addressing key issues and challenges in participation and communication processes, opposition to road tolls, and what can we do in the future to improve our communication strategies in large-scale projects – such as those related to the ATP – that need a broad social and political consensus.
The project is being carried out by using qualitative research methods. Led by project leaders Vito Laterza (Department of Global Development and Planning) and Alex Ruser (Department of Sociology and Social Work), the research team has facilitated two workshops and one focus group discussion in November, all of which I helped organize and where I acted as one of the facilitators.
Participants in workshops were local politicians and administrators involved in the ATP process. In the workshops, we used the World Café method (http://www.theworldcafe.com/key-concepts-resources/world-cafe-method/), which fosters dialogue and conversations within and across small groups of participants. The workshops and the focus group engaged 15 research participants. I facilitated the discussions about communication and participation channels used in the negotiation and implementation of the ATP Arendalsregionen. With these discussions, we attempted to create a platform for administrators and politicians for reflections and evaluation.
The research design includes a follow-up individual interview with participants, and I carried out 11 interviews. At this point, I am in the middle of writing the interview reports and I am fascinated by the data collected so far.
My early analysis of the group discussions and interviews suggests that the much-needed reflection and evaluation of the ATP project is contributing to co-production of key knowledge for policy and politics, as the participants are the main “experts” in addressing the questions pursued by the research team. From an academic point of view, we are working to provide high-quality analysis for academic publications. We are also producing a hands-on policy report, co-produced with participants and of use to them, which will be ready by end of January 2020.