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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
Challenges regarding
civil society participation
in the process of choosing progress indicators
GDP on the road to Rio+20
Implication of civil society in the development of complementary indicators
January26th, 2011, EESC, Brussels
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg
Research Coordinator, SERI Germany eV
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
Page 1
Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
What are indicators?
• Indicators are tools for monitoring. They don‘t
define targets but are derived from them. At best,
they measure the distance to target. This way they
are monitoring progress.
• In each reporting system “Indicators for what?“
is a political question, not a technical one.
• Indicators must be indicative (right themes),
robust, sensitive and resonant (strike a chord, be
spontaneously meaningful). The latter points are
experienced by citizens;
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
Progress?
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
Page 3
Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
Progress?
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
Page 4
Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
What is progress?
•
•
•
Progress is subjective, the assessment based
on individual preferences and collective
cultural norms.
Progress is multidimensional, with
potentially contradictory trends.
It cannot be aggregated, and even less so
expressed oin monetary terms as this would
imply substitutability: Wealth is not welfare is
not well-being
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
Factors contributing to the quality of life
Sustainable Consumption
Sustainable Production
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
Source: J.H.Spangenberg
Page 6
Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
It‘s the stakeholders who
decide what is progress
• Individually
and
collectively,
through
preferences,
norms and
habits.
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
Who are the stakeholders?
• Those who are affected by politics for progress.
• For a nation state, or the EU, that is the inhabitants.
• In a sustainability context, requiring integration and
delineation, it includes non-human nature,
distant neighbours and future generations.
• Both usually have no voice on the choice, if not
represented by NGOs speaking on their (assumed)
behalf, and advocating the public good.
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
What can they contribute?
• Defining dimensions and characteristics of
progress,e.g. sustainable development;
• Selecting indicators describing the betterment of
the situation.
• Qualitative factors, monitoring not only what
has been done but also how, are decisive for
public perception and policy support. Public
participation is the best way to find them – both
experts and administrators tend to hold nonaverage sensitivities and preferences.
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
What is their feedback?
• Lay people see if the indicator really addresses
their concerns (indicative), if it reacts when they
experience a trend to the better or worse
(sensitive), and if the way the message is
expressed resonates with them (resonant);
• Public participation enhances the credibility of
the messages conveyed by the indicators to the
public at large.
• Indicators can help specify policy feedback from
the electorate to the elected.
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
NGOs can be
partners in
governance,
providing
expertise and
information no
government
has, building a
bridge between
administration
and the public.
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
…and indirectly?
„New research has explored how well different governance systems can achieve desirable conservation
outcomes.
Results confirmed the importance of
adaptive management, which relies on
regular monitoring to enable ‘learning
through doing’ to refine actions, and
suggested that leadership using expert
knowledge was also significant in
successful governance.“
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
How does citizen involvement work?
• Public hearings: everybody can participate, but
few will.
• Focus groups: selected
but often more
representative
• Advisory boards,
Commissions,
Committees: competent
representatives
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
What are the limits?
In policy monitoring indicators observe
• if decisions to take measures have been taken
• if measures have been effectively
implemented
• if the implementation was successful
remedying the initial problem.
Each level requires specific information and
knowledge. Citizens are best at the latter level.
NGOs commanding expertise can monitor all
three provided transparency of
decision making.
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
What can/can‘t they contribute?
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
What do they monitor?
• Citizens experience if adaptation to change
was successful.
• They experience of the restoration of the
state has happened.
• Civil society has its own cost-benefit
assessments of the measures taken.
• Identifying effective mitigation and
prevention requires special knowledge, even
scientific expertise, which some NGOs can
mobilise, but not the public at large.
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
What can‘t they contribute?
Consensus
Civil society can be a
dissonant chorus in and
between countries.
Within countries, interests
and power relations play a
key role.
In the US, for the rich 1%
public debt is the key
concern. For the 99% it is
unemployment.
Participation doesn’t replace
political responsibility!
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
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Civil Society in Progress Indicator Choice Processes
Thank you for your attention
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg
Sustainable Europe Research Institute SERI Deutschland, Köln, Germany
Professeur invite, Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France
Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg, Brussels, Jan. 26th, 2012
Page 18
[email protected]
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