Keywords: public participation, risk governance, opportunities, barriers, coorientation, risk decision making, risk assessment, Canada, stakeholders, risk communication, environmental health risks
Public participation and risk governance: opportunities and barriers
Although involving members of the public in risk decision-making is a key concept of risk governance, efforts to date have met with mixed success. Members of the public and industry/regulatory stakeholders in two Canadian cities were asked to assess the sufficiency of current opportunities for public participation and to identify the barriers to both providing opportunities and participating in existing opportunities. These two groups viewed the opportunities and institutional barriers quite differently, with the stakeholders' viewpoints being more grounded in a regulatory or mandated duty context. Both groups agreed that, at the individual level, lack of time, vested interest and motivation are major barriers. Overcoming these obstacles will require developing two-way communication that explores incongruencies in coorientation to the issue and focuses on aspects of the process, not just the risk issue.