The goal of the PALO project is to research and develop better decision-making practices for both citizen participation and long-term public decision-making. We aim to achieve this by 1) analysing the time horizons used by decision-makers and citizens; 2) finding new practices that help alleviate short-termism in decision-making and introducing these perspectives to decision-makers; and 3) designing new institutional solutions that will help support participation and long-term decision-making. We aim to utilise several different approaches and methods, such as experimental research methods, survey questionnaires and participatory observation that follows the principles of action research.
We have divided our project into four work packages (or WPs) that each follow the key themes of the PALO project: long-termism and deliberative citizen participation. The fifth work package focuses on societal influence and interaction.
Foundations of long-term decision-making (WP1)
The first work package utilises philosophical research methods and focuses on the so-called “all-affected principle” and its normative justification and connections to democratic theory. This work package analyses how democratic decisions can be made while taking the interests of future generations into account as well as how future interests can be represented in decision-making. The package also focuses on the veil of ignorance between generations and the role that empathy plays in long-term decision-making.
The empirical part of the work package utilises experiments designed in the fields of psychology and behavioural economics. These experiments are used to assess the distortions related to long-term decision-making. The goal is to find out how people become aware of the distortions related to decision-making and how these distortions could be alleviated. In addition, we will also assess the effects of deliberative discussion on the distortions that people experience and whether norms could help promote the inclusion of long-term perspectives in decision-making.
WP leader: Kaisa Herne, University of Tampere, kaisa.herne(at)uta.fi
Problems in present patterns of long-term decision-making (WP2)
The second work package focuses on the main actors in Finnish society and the factors that affect their time horizons. The work package aims to assess how citizens, officials and politicians take the interests of future generations into account. The attitude survey for decision-makers is also used to assess the problems related to current decision-making practices and collect suggestions from decision-makers on how these could be solved.
The materials will be collected using interviews and surveys as well as with focus group interviews. In addition to citizens, the interviews will also include key people from different administrative levels as well as from various political sectors. We will also assess the long-term problems related to budgeting at the municipal level, and special emphasis will be placed on the effect that the party system and policy-making practices have on the accumulation of public debt.
WP leader: Lauri Rapeli, Åbo Akademi University, lauri.rapeli(at)abo.fi
Activating citizens in long-term decision-making (WP3)
The third work package focuses on the different forms of citizen participation and the role they play in decision-making. One example of this is how citizens’ initiatives are processed in the Parliament of Finland. Our goal is to also assess whether citizen deliberation can be used to promote the detection of long-term effects in decision-making. This question will be studied with the help of two experiments.
The first experiment will focus on a randomly selected citizen panel in connection with a local referendum. This experiment will utilise an adapted version of the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) method that is used in Oregon in the United States. The second experiment will feature a deliberative Citizens’ Assembly that will be organised before Finnish the regional election, where randomly selected citizens will be invited to deliberate pertinent issues in their county.
WP leader: Maija Setälä, University of Turku, maija.setala(at)utu.fi
Instruments for long-term environmental governance (WP4)
The fourth work package focuses on long-term perspectives in environmental governance, especially in the land use planning process. The key goal is to develop discursive operating models that are suited for the land use planning process and that can be used to strengthen the commitment of all parties to the long-term goals of the planning process.
The primary area of study focuses on the participation of officials, stakeholders and citizens in the drafting process for regional land use plans. Special emphasis is placed on the process that determines which needs and interests are included in regional land use plans. The second focus is to develop the interaction and participation methods used in the land use planning process. The pilot focuses on a regional land use plan for natural values and resources that is currently in its preparation stage. The analysis focuses especially on communication problems, and the goal is to develop practices that can help improve interaction. The third focus is on the so-called deliberative valuation process that will be applied to a landscape conflict in southwest Finland.
WP leader: Juha Hiedanpää, Natural Resources Institute Finland, juha.hiedanpaa(at)luke.fi.
The fifth work package (WP5) focuses on societal influence and interaction. The research will be implemented in collaboration with societal stakeholders. These key partners include different public administration organisations, such as municipalities, counties and ministries. For more information about the partners of the PALO project, visit this link.
WP leader: Henri Vogt, University of Turku, henri.vogt(at)utu.fi.