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Jennifer Williams Inclusive policy processes for transformative social learning: New thinking for a new climate jswilliams@dundee.ac.uk Overview It is widely acknowledged that policy is a fundamental key for creating societal change, however the development of self-protective behaviour and the promotion of community resilience through policy is not an easy arena to navigate. Whilst there are multiple barriers which can impede on a policy’s outcomes, this poster focuses on how through transformative changes to policy process communities can become more engaged as actors of a process rather than recipients of a product leading to higher levels of policy outcomes. Using a case study of Scottish Government Resilience Division, this poster outlines how multi-lateral working develops more inclusive policy processes, which can lead to more increased uptake of resilience policy and interventions.

Discussion Policy is both complex and dynamic: it comprises of structures, characteristics and processes which are multi directional and yet emerge from many centres; it incorporates a multitude of stakeholders which are ascribed to certain power and influence dynamics (i.e. policy maker v’s community resident). Often, the stakeholders of the policy sequence are pitched in hierarchy which creates a top down or a bi-lateral process which can disadvantage the overall policy outcomes. For instance, those setting the goals and agenda can sometimes be in abstract of those implementing them. When policy is developed from the bi-lateral position it enforces political control, which connects with accountability and the prospects of outcome and intention . In addition to this, the process of policy development from the top down can disallow for learning opportunities from the community level; understanding is often a common and primary barrier for not engaging in adaptive processes.

Case Study Historically, stakeholder groups are positioned in a bi-lateral way, as seen in fig 1. which demonstrates the structure for Community Emergency Plans during the Development, Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation stages (DIME). The DME phases mostly occurs within the top two levels of the stakeholder groups with I being the dominant phase within the third level, however instilling community resilience does not occur through a shift in resources from government (policy maker) to the local level, it is about all the groups of stakeholders that play a part in the make-up of that community. Community resilience is that make up of many stakeholder groups including the policy maker, practitioners and community individuals and is therefore about strengthening the resiliency of all the systems involved, and has to come from engagement in the policy process as a whole, where accountability and decision making are involved in line with the individuals epistemologies and ontologies of resilience. In this respect, it is about strengthening the systems involved in community resilience through a process of social learning, not just the community stakeholder-group themselves.

Fig 2

Fig 1.

Moving forward with Community Emergency Planning, the Scottish Government are proactive in their vision of developing community resilience, where changes to the structure to which stakeholder groups exist will allow for cooperation and engagement into the policy process, with particular reference to inclusion with the Community Stakeholder group (traditionally third position), and the Voluntary Stakeholder group (traditionally second position), as seen in fig 2. In doing so, this would encourage the opportunities for transformation to happen across levels which will strengthen resiliency of all stakeholder groups, from the individual householder to the policy makers. As a result of being involved in the policy process, each stakeholder group is engaged in the choreography of transformation where social learning through the process is just as beneficial as the policy outcome.

The benefits of multilateral 

Given the uncertainty and cross cutting nature of climatic hazards, multilateral structures allow for more flexible and integrated approach to policy development where research shows the greater the understanding the greater the cooperation and implementation.

Multilateral rather than bilateral structures can align more freely with multiple issues relating to sustainability such as poverty, social exclusion and equality

More inclusive and engaged mutual inclusion processes where opportunities for shared accountability and responsibility of parts and the processes as a whole can be easily more encouraged

Creates quicker real time knowledge and response during emergencies which leads to more effective knowledge exchange and development of good practice

Encourages encouraging the linking capital between the stakeholder groups, the creation of spaces and ‘unlikely alliances’

Mainstreaming stakeholder groups in a multilateral structure allows for closer coordination of the policy process, making the feedback and monitoring aspects particularly quicker and overall resources (via capacities and resource mapping)


CECHR Symposium 2014 Jennifer Williams  

Inclusive policy processes for transformative social learning: New thinking for a new climate

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