Opening conference | Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making

Time: 1516 February 2018

Venue: University of Turku (Educarium), lecture hall EDU3 (Address: Assistentinkatu 5)

The conference examines the problem of ‘short-termism’ in public decision-making and governance.

Keynote lectures & materials

Prof. Claudia Landwehr (University of Mainz):

Hearing silent voices. How democracies can make statistical victims count?

Abstract: Some groups are more likely to be given voice and to be heard in politics than others. I present a typology of groups that are systematically underrepresented and direct attention one of them: statistical victims, i.e. unidentified persons who in the future will suffer or even die as a result of political decisions not to allocate resources to their needs. Statistical victims are by definition silent and I argue that their morally significant and legitimate interests cannot be adequately considered where politics is driven by electoral pressures. Hence, their representation can only be discursive and has to be ensured in extra-majoritarian forums. However, the legitimacy of such non-elected bodies is always precarious in a democracy. I discuss the procedural and empirical legitimacy of a hypothetical “Council for Statistical Victims” and come to the conclusion that while a mandate for a respective body is desirable from a perspective of justice and democratic performance, it can only be legitimated as the result of democratic institutional design.

Claudia Landwehr is a professor of public policy at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Her work focusses on the evolution of democratic institutions and the distributional consequences of institutional design. Before joining the faculty in Mainz, she was a Schumpeter Fellow at the Goethe University Frankfurt, a visiting scholar at Harvard University and the Australian National University, and a junior research fellow at the University of Hamburg, where she obtained her doctoral degree in 2007. She is author of the book Political Conflict and Political Preferences: Communicative Action Between Facts, Norms and Interests and has published articles in The Journal of Political Philosophy, Governance, the European Journal of Political Research and numerous other journals. Her most recent publications deal with challenges of strategic institutional design (Government & Opposition 2016), citizens’ conflicting normative conceptions of democracy (Political Studies, forthcoming) and the necessity of preserving the procedural consensus through democratic metadeliberation (Political Studies 2015).


Prof. Mark Warren (University of British Columbia):

Three challenges for long-term decision-making in democracies: Boundaries, knowledge, and incentives

Abstract: What kinds of challenges do long-term issues such as climate change pose for democratic political systems? First, there is a boundary problem: How can we include in the demos people who are not yet born? Second, even if we can find ways include future generations, how can we know what their interests might be? And third, even if we could solve these problems, what incentives do those of us who are living now have to consider the interests of those with no voice and no power? We can use recent democratic theory to clarify these challenges. With respect to boundaries, we should be using the all affected interests principle of inclusion. With respect to knowledge of future interests, we should think about maintaining conditions of choice for future generations. With respect to incentives, we need political structures that translate our natural historicity into collective decisions: few people want to leave a world to their children and grandchildren that is worse than the ones they inherited.

Mark E. Warren holds the Harold and Dorrie Merilees Chair for the Study of Democracy at the University of British Columbia. He is especially interested in democratic innovations, civil society and democratic governance, and political corruption. He is currently working with an international team on a project entitled Participedia (, which uses a web-based platform to collect data about democratic innovation and participatory governance around the world.

Presentation (pdf)


Prof. Arild Vatn (Norwegian University of Life Sciences):
Value articulating institutions: The challenge of long-term democratic decision-making in environmental governance.

Abstract: The talk will explain the concept of value articulating institutions (VAIs) and discuss how long term – typically intergenerational interests – can be included in decision-making over environmental values through structuring such institutions. VAIs can be seen as defined by three main characteristics: a) who participates and in what capacity; b) the format of data, its production and evaluation; c) the process of value articulation and priority making. Various VAIs – e.g., cost-benefit analysis and various deliberative institutions – are based on different assumptions regarding rationality (individual vs. social), human interaction (instrumental vs. communicative) and participation (direct or via representation). They moreover have different demands on data and value articulation with implications for how the issues involved – e.g., environmental stakes – can be treated and conclusions made. The talk will clarify these issues comparing formats of VAIs. Having elucidated key institutional issues regarding value articulation more in general, I will look especially at the issue of long-term democratic decision-making – especially the issue of representing future generations. Here I will discuss three questions: How are future generations represented in different VAIs? On what basis could we qualify what is legitimate representation? How does the format of VAIs influence the content of the representation of future generations?

Arild Vatn is professor at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). His main expertise is in institut-ional and ecological economics. Specific fields of experience are: a) Environmental governance and policy processes; b) Policy evaluations regarding issues like climate, biodiversity, forestry and agriculture; c) Environmental valuation. Vatn has been president and vice president of the European Society of Ecological Economics. He was awarded the NMBU research prize in 2002, the joint EAEPE and AFEE Veblen 150 prize in 2007 for his book ‘Institutions and the Environment’, and the ISEE Kenneth Boulding Award for 2016.

Presentation (pdf)


PALO – Participation in Long-Term Decision Making is a multidisciplinary research project that analyzes problems of practices of long-term decision-making. With the objective to strengthen democracy, PALO develops better practices for deliberative citizen participation. The consortium partners are University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, Natural Resources Institute Finland and University of Tampere.

The project is funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland. SRC provides funding to long-term and programme-based research aimed at finding solutions to the major challenges facing Finnish society.



Conference poster (pdf)
Conference programme (pdf)

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Thursday 15 February (Edu3 lecture hall, Educarium building, University of Turku)

9.00 Registration

9.20 Opening words: Rector Kalervo Väänänen (University of Turku)

9.30 Keynote I: Prof. Claudia Landwehr (University of Mainz):

Hearing silent voices. How democracies can make statistical victims count?

10.45 Coffee

11.00 Keynote II: Prof. Mark Warren (University of British Columbia): Three challenges for long-term decision-making in democracies: Boundaries, knowledge, and incentives

12.15 Lunch

13.15 Workshop WP1: Foundations of long-term decision-making

Simo Kyllönen: Towards an intergenerational justification of democracy

Olli Lappalainen: Network structure and opinion formation: An experiment

Kaisa Herne: Asymmetric resource allocation: The role of the veil of ignorance and empathy

15.00 Coffee

15.30–17.15 Workshop WP2: Problems in present patterns of long-term decision-making

Lauri Rapeli: Explaining variations in citizens’ political time horizons

Marina Lindell: Policy preferences and time discounting over the life span

Juha Ylisalo: Managing the budgetary commons at the local level:

What affects the time perspective of decision making in Finnish municipalities?


Friday 16 February (Edu3 lecture hall, Educarium building, University of Turku)

9.15 Keynote III: Prof. Arild Vatn (Norwegian University of Life Sciences): Value articulating institutions: The challenge of long-term democratic decision-making in environmental governance

10.30 Coffee

10.45 Workshop WP3: Activating citizens in long-term decision-making

Michael MacKenzie: Future publics: The (democratic) politics of

intergenerational relations

Staffan Himmelroos: Citizen deliberation and long-term decision making: Designing a deliberative experiment

Maija Jäske: Citizens’ jury on referendum options: Improving voter knowledge through democratic deliberation

12.15 Lunch

13.15 Workshop WP4: Instruments for long-term environmental governance

Juha Hiedanpää: Reasons and reasoning in regional land use planning

Eija Pouta: Community-based deliberative valuation of cultural ecosystem services

14.45 Coffee

15.00–16.00 Panel discussion: Reflections on PALO’s plans (SAB members)


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