Inclusion and diversity among expert witnesses in deliberative mini-publics

Jennifer J. Roberts*, Hannah Salamon, Marco Reggiani, Ruth Lightbody, Stefanie Reher, Clara Pirie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract

Democratic innovations including deliberative mini-publics such as Citizens' Assemblies have been gaining prominence as a means of informing policy and decision-making in recent years. Such processes typically involve experts to help participants understand issues and potential solutions. While there is emphasis on diversity and inclusivity across mini-public participants to ensure that they represent wider society, much less attention is given to the experts involved. Yet, having a diversity of identities and experiences represented among experts is important for the legitimacy of deliberative processes and their outcomes. Recently, both in the UK and internationally, the use of citizen deliberations has grown rapidly, particularly to inform on climate policy and action. The disproportionate impacts of climate change on particular groups, including lower income groups, people of colour and younger generations, puts inclusion in decision making in the spotlight. There is a recognized need to urgently diversify who participates in climate change decision making (Dietzel & Venn, 2021). We analysed publicly available materials reporting on 23 citizen deliberations (including Citizens' Assemblies, Citizens' Panels, and Citizens' Juries) on climate change held in the UK since 2019 to explore: (i) Diversity among experts involved in citizen deliberations on climate action. (ii) The considerations for inclusion of experts, as well as barriers/enablers to participation in the process design. We find that none of the citizen deliberations on climate action report demographic information for the experts giving evidence during proceedings. There are no equity, diversity and inclusion targets or measures to support participation of experts from minority or marginalised demographics or identities. Further, there is no detailed and transparent account of the process of identifying and selecting experts, or those appointed to oversee expert input. Given that democratic processes should be equitable and accessible, it is paramount that organisers and governing bodies of deliberative processes resource and implement transparent and inclusive processes for expert involvement. Our recommendations are relevant to any decision-making processes that include evidence-giving from experts.
Original languageEnglish
TypePolicy Brief
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Number of pages27
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • inclusion
  • diversity
  • expert witness

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