Keywords: stakeholder partnerships, risk discourse, risk governance, risk communication, stakeholder participation, risk assessment, environmental health risks
Towards effective risk discourse: the role of stakeholder partnerships
Stakeholder partnerships have increasingly been used as part of the process of policy debate and decision-making in recent years. By bringing together representatives from different stakeholder communities in an inclusive, sustained and indefinite discourse, they also offer a potentially important means of engaging stakeholders in the full cycle of risk governance. A key challenge in this is how to establish a practicable yet balanced partnership, which can properly represent the interests and views of large numbers of stakeholders. Barriers to participation which otherwise act to bias involvement also need to be overcome, and issues of legitimacy and accountability addressed, in order to ensure that stakeholder partnership genuinely speaks for their stakeholder communities. Further challenges also occur in enabling fair and open debate within the partnerships, with differing styles of discourse and goal-seeking strategies having to be recognised and accommodated, and collaborative strategies, which seek the so-called win-win solutions encouraged.