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PP Forum: Techniques for engaging the public

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Theme 3: Public meetings [#5782]
Dear participants,

Welcome to Theme 3: Public meetings

Best regards,
Ulrika Nilsson
Associate Information Officer
Biosafety Unit
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
United Nations Environment Programme
413 St Jacques Street, Suite 800,
Montréal, Québec, Canada H2Y 1N9
Tel: +1-514-287-8720
Email: ulrika.nilsson@cbd.int
Internet: http://bch.cbd.int/protocol/
posted on 2014-04-23 00:47 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5792]
POSTED ON BEHALF OF JOHANSEN T. VOKER (MODERATOR)

Dear Forum Participants,

I am pleased and honoured to have been invited to moderate this online discussion.

Welcome to Theme 3 on Public meetings.

We welcome you to answer the guiding questions listed below when the Forum begins 28 April.

1. How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?

2. In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?

4. Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?

5. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?

6. In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?

The discussion will take place for the two weeks and I encourage you to prepare the answers to the questions and post your views as soon as possible in order to foster a lively debate.

Please note that participants must first sign in to the BCH in order to post messages.

Individuals wishing to participate via e-mail after these initial messages can choose to 'watch' the discussions taking place under the different themes. These individuals will then receive copies of the posted messages by e-mail.

If you have any questions or if you encounter difficulties in accessing the discussion sessions or posting your messages, please send an e-mail to: ulrika.nilsson@cbd.int or andrew.bowers@cbd.int

I look forward to reading your suggestions and comments.

Best regards,

Johansen T. Voker
Moderator
posted on 2014-04-24 15:14 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5831]
Dear all,
I thank you to all of you participated in the online conference on PAEP... how to engage the public in the decision-making within the framework of CPB. Many of us have raised an information regarding public debates and surveys particularly the methods and experiences.
I would rather not wait to the two themes, but jump into the 3rd theme on Public Meetings. Although, I may interact if any queries on the two themes and believe we have not discussed exhaustively yet.
Below are my contributions to questions posted by Johanssen and Ulrika.

1. How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?

Public meetings can be held in the National Level- i.e. the National Steering Committee for Biosafety (NSCB) Chaired by MOE Minister can decide to have such a meeting to diffuse tension or concerns among the public in relation to the decision-making on any LMOs to be released not to be released. Such a meeting can also be held on Sub-national Level- i.e. provincial level- The governor of province can organize that meeting to allow representatives of the public, civil society to take part in the meeting with representatives from concerned departments. In Cambodia, the government just decided to have a public forum in the province so officers at the national level shall participate a public forum to answer any question posted by the farmers and communities. The cost will be covered local government and concerned ministries.
   
2. In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?

Agenda of the meeting is collected from communities, sub-national and national level.
Speeches: Representatives of Ministries, governors, representative of communities, NGOs and Member of parliament in that province.
Panel: consisted most relevant to the issues lead by the MP or governor. Respective ministries will have to solve problem for the public.

Answer and Questions: will be offered.
  
3. In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?


Who to notify the public meeting: MP, governor or respective ministries if issues or request from a community received.
Intervention will be allowed to participated. MOE have assigned each officer to be in-charge in each province on environmental matters.


4. Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?


Right now, We run in Khmer. If conflict with Foreign company, they will be invited along with interpreter.

5. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?

The meeting usually take 3-4 hours. Subjects are varies but focusing on risk to environment, human health and socio-economic impacts and land issues.

6. In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?

Summary report of voice raised and to be integrated to decision-making. The Scientific advisory tram together with NSCB members will do the evaluation on report sent by sub-national government.

That's all. Regards and thank you to everyone in the forum.
Pisey Oum, Cambodia's MOE.
posted on 2014-05-01 04:18 UTC by Mr. Meng Monyrak, Cambodia
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5842]
Dear Mr. Moderator and all participants,

The followings are my comments for each question:

1. How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?
Based on our own experience, meetings with public can be in 2 ways depending on the objective. First is in the form of seminar with objectives to promote and educate them on certain issues. Second is in more formal way which is proper meeting with objectives to get their views or inputs as part of regulatory process for approval. Seminar is part of our outreach activities that cover many parts of the country and involves various groups of people. The Federal Government will coordinate the whole process including the resources needed (e.g. allocation and resource persons) with support from the state governments, local authorities and relevant NGOs. Meanwhile, meeting is targeted to specific group of people that can be organized at federal, state or district level. The costs to organize such meetings are normally covered by Government. However, there is a case where an applicant is required under the terms imposed for its approval to conduct a meeting with local community before they can start with the field trial release activity of LMO. For this kind of cases, the applicant will have to cover the costs.

2. In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?
In most engagement activities with public that we have organized (e.g. meeting, seminar or forum), the agenda or program will be pre determined much earlier. When the invitation is sent to them, it will be attached with this agenda/program. This is important to us as we want to see those that coming are well prepared and actively participate in the discussion. If the issues to be discussed in the meeting are new or quite technical for public to understand, a brief note will be prepared and sent together with the invitation. Based on our experience organizing these meetings and seminars with public, we will start the program with welcoming remarks by the head of ministry/department (depend on the organizer) then followed by introduction of the topic by invited speakers. Time will be allocated much on questions and answers session.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?
In our case, the criteria for selection are not specified in any document. Our basis for selection will be based upon issues to be discussed. However, we want as much possible to get at least a representative from each group of stakeholders for example regulatory bodies/enforcement bodies/policy makers, research institutions & universities, NGOs, religious bodies, organic society, industry, media, educators, farmers and consumers. I cannot really interpret the meaning of second questions (i.e. Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?) under this item. Perhaps the secretariat can elaborate further. Is this referring to applicants that seeking for approval?

4. Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?
The language used in the public meetings depends on the audience. Most of the time, the medium is in English or Malay but if the meetings involve farmers or consumers, it has to be conducted in local dialects.

5. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?
In our experience, meetings with public are very crucial during process of development or amendment regulatory framework on LMOs. The consultation with public can be in the form of meeting, forum, seminar or workshop. The meeting can be from 1 to few hours but if there is any pending issue, a follow up meeting can be planned ahead. For consultation workshop or seminar, it can be from 1 to 3 days.

6. In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?
Usually minutes will be prepared after the meeting for future reference. If the meeting is part of whole consultation process, all issues and points collected will be kept in matrix format and analyzed together with other inputs collected from various means. As for consultation workshop or seminar, a brief report will be prepared to capture main issues discussed. Issues highlighted in these reports can be used later as a basis or background information in preparing any strategic document. Independent reviewer is not required for the minutes and reports prepared since they are not meant to be published for wide circulation.

Regards
Johnny
posted on 2014-05-03 11:23 UTC by Mr. Johnny Anak Andrew, Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5856]
Dear all,
Thank you Dr. Voker and Ms. Nilsson for moderating this forum!

1. How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?

In the Netherlands, all citizens can give their view on any individual application involving LMOs in an extensive formal procedure. Public meetings, however, are not required as a part of this procedure. 
Meetings or debates that do take place, are therefore organized e.g. by local authorities (municipalities, provinces), by universities or by NGOs and are about a certain theme or subject, not about an invididual application.

2. In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?

Usually, meetings consist of one or more speeches or presentations combined with a discussion in some form. The public can ask questions, respond to the presentations and discuss the views expressed by the speakers and other participants. Depending on the type of meeting, e.g. a panel discussion or a visit to a trial field can be part of the meeting.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?

This, of course, depends on the objective of the meeting. As meetings are not part of any formal procedures in my country, the organising party decides on this.
About the national government: if given the opportunity, it is advisable that a representative (e.g. policy advisor or expert) of the national government attends meetings to, if necessary, give explanation about the current national policy and law on LMOs and, of course, to get an impression on the public's opinions and views on the theme addressed.

4. Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?

Most meetings of scientists are conducted in English; meetings that are aimed at the general public are usually held in the national language.

5. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?

Public participation in some form should be part of the decision-making process on the development of regulatory frameworks and on individual applications for import. In the Netherlands, the public has ample opportunity to respond to draft decisions on individual LMO applications and the government is required by law to publicly reply to these views.
A national debate has been organised once in the past as part of the development of our regulatory framework.

6. In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?

Since there is no formal requirement for public meetings, there is no rule on records or evaluation mechanism.

Best wishes, Annemiek.
posted on 2014-05-04 14:46 UTC by Ms. Annemiek van Waterschoot, Netherlands
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5911]
Posted on behalf of Claudia María Villa, the Alexander von Humboldt Institute:

First, it is necessary to have in account that “public” means different kind of target audiences (institutional/government, academic, researchers, civil society, industry, NGOs, local communities), and regarding to meetings for those publics we have to define specific topics according with their concerns and interests (methodology, language, agenda, topics, speakers,  tools, etc.) and this fact determines the “how” for each kind of meeting. It is recommended that Parties have a CEPA National Strategy on Biosafety (Colombia is advancing in the first steeps for that), which determines national guidelines into of a national framework of action, and allows to reach regional and local scope attending particular differences and interests.

Regarding decision-making process on LMOs, public meetings should be permanently in each stage of the process, considering differential stakeholders and methodologies for that, due to this process includes multi-thematic issues (scientific, technical, social, economic, cultural, etc.), and interested public may be not the same in each stage.

Currently in the Colombian case, the public participation regarding final decisions on LMOs is not developed through public meetings, but through publication of applications case by case in web sites of National Competent Authorities, giving the opportunity that public can express their considerations and concerns about each application. In the final decision, among all considerations presented by different stakeholders, are taken into account those that are relevant and appropriate, only if them have solid argumentation that support and, where appropriate, evidence to justify them.
posted on 2014-05-07 16:59 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5938]
Posted on behalf of Milena Roudna, Czech Republic:

Theme 3 – Public meetings
• Public meetings are organized at different levels – national, regional (country regions) or local by corresponding authorities.
• As those are public, national language needs to be used (or local languages according to the given country).
• Costs are covered by government or other organizing body.
posted on 2014-05-08 13:49 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5942]
1.How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?

As mentioned in theme 1, public meetings have been organized either by government or NGOs. Usually NGO’s can’t cover the expense to organize the meeting at national level, so they remain local. Public meetings at national level are most of the times organized by the government when there is enough budget. Last year we needed to discuss 1 specific topic and it was possible to organize 2 meetings with producers, NGOs and other government level employees. The meetings were productive, but once again, the topic was specific and enough information was given. In the case of Risk Analysis, the information you prepare as ground has to be clear according to each group of society you will have the meeting with. For other issues you may even want to have separate meetings for each group and not mix them as the topic is still polemic.

2. In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or
writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?

Regarding the meetings we held last year in 2 specific topics, they had an agenda which included a general presentation, and work with the participants to propose a working plan or strategy. By the end when we meet different organizations we have a written record of the commitments by each institution or the conclusions that were reached and the actions to implement. This is a proof of what was discussed and agreed.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?
We haven’t implemented the complete risk analysis procedure when genetic modified soy was approved in Bolivia. Personally I consider that while a risk analysis is taking place, society should be informed about the process and conclusions that the technical committee is reaching at each stage. As mentioned before, society could make observations as long as they can back up their opinions with accurate information and sources.

4. Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?

When needed, some meetings have to be held in the languages recognized in the country aside from Spanish (Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní). However the big challenge is to explain to social movements in the country the basic concepts that are used when discussing about LMO’s and the risk analysis over them. Biotechnology is already a very specific and technical field, and some concepts are not easy to understand by people who don’t have a basic understanding of genetics.

5. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?

Since we haven’t had this real experience in the country, it is not based on experience, but more in a personal opinion, that as mentioned before society should be able to know what is going on during the whole risk analysis process, and be able to participate actively prior a decision about importing an LMO. As mentioned before, the meeting should take at least one month before the final decision is given and it should allow society members to present their concerns based on real scientific facts.
When developing the national biosafety framework, certain groups should be considered to participate in public meetings, and collect suggestions or to identify gaps that there might be when formulating the new national framework.

6. In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?

In the public meetings we have had the main points written down and signed by the participants. Bolivia doesn’t count with a standardize evaluation system for the opinions you collect through public meetings. It is possible to classify those opinions under certain categories once you have developed practice working with a wide variety of opinions.
posted on 2014-05-08 15:12 UTC by Sra. Cecilia Gonzalez, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5949]
Posted on behalf of Bather Kone, African Union:

THEME 3: Public Meetings

1- It should not be any prior restriction on organizing a public meeting. The how and the where may depend on the context: what available and easier for use, cost effective. At the national level it is important that the Government bears the costs, but adopt a strategy to recover from whom must pay for (interested companies, partners, etc.)
2- The public meeting can combine two or more of the listed items: mainly moderated session with speeches, questions answers, intervention in oral, and summary report in News.
3- The person to notify and include should be government representatives, local communities organs and representatives, parliamentarians, media (TV, radios, news etc.), and actors of application/intervention should also be involved.
4- Due to the difficulties regarding terminologies having the public meetings in national languages should be enough if the languages selected are representative of the population.
5- Public meeting should take place  at all points of the decision making process, ensuring involvement from A to Z. The time period can be based on case by case basis.
6- Up to now the main debates were preliminary to the vote of the regulation by the Parliament. It took a long time and many consultation beore the regulation was voted by the Parliament.
posted on 2014-05-08 16:52 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
Theme 3: Public meetings [#5954]
If you want to import, develop, field test or release GMOs in New Zealand you must apply to the EPA NZ for approval under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms 1996 Act (“the HSNO Act”). The delegated decision-makers are an independent committee appointed by the Minister for the Environment. The Committee members have a range of expertise including public health, environmental management, legislation, Maori (New Zealand’s indigenous people). EPA staff provide risk assessment advice to the Committee to be used in their decision-making. Decisions are made using criteria outlined in the HSNO Act.

Under the HSNO Act certain applications must be publicly notified. This means that submissions are called for from the public and a public hearing may be held. The purpose of public notification is to ensure that the decision-maker is informed on all relevant matters and has heard the views of those affected by the decision, including the views of the public, technical information, the effect of the decision on the public or specified groups, and any additional information the members of the public can provide. This ensures that the decision is made following a fully informed consideration of all relevant factors.

In relation to GMOs the following application types must be publicly notified: Applications: a) requesting approval for GM field tests; b) requesting the release of a GMO into the environment (excluding low risk GMOs in human or animal medicines);or c) deemed to be of significant public interest.

New Zealand has not yet granted approval for the release of a GMO crop into the environment; however we have experience with GM field tests.

The notification process is as follows:
• The EPA notifies the public via the EPA webpage and emails/sends letter to interested parties (persons who have requested to be informed about the receipt of GM application). In certain circumstances newspaper notices may be used to target certain communities (i.e. those where the activity is proposed to occur). Application documentation is made available through the EPA website or can be requested in hardcopy. The public has 30 working days to send in a submission.
• EPA staff collate and summarise the information provided in submissions. All submissions are made available to the decision-makers, but only relevant information is incorporated into the EPA staff’s risk assessment.
• The EPA staff advice is publicly released.
• A public hearing will be held if requested by the decision-makers, the applicant or a submitter. At a hearing the applicant, EPA staff and submitters are given the opportunity to speak directly to the decision-makers (either in person or by teleconference). The applicant and submitters usually provide comments on the EPA staff risk assessment. Hearings are carried out in English (the predominant language in New Zealand); however, information can be presented in Maori or sign language (also official languages of New Zealand). Hearings are recorded (verbal only).
• In private, the decision-makers consider all relevant information and make a decision. The decision makers can only consider information on potential risks and benefits that is within the scope of the proposed activity. General concerns about GM technology cannot be taken into account in relation to specific applications.
• The written decision (which outlines the reasons for the approval/decline of the application and describes how the submitter information was taken into account) is publicly released.
posted on 2014-05-09 02:33 UTC by Dr. Kirsty Allen, Environmental Protection Authority
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5957]
Hello All,

It's nice to be part of this cyber meeting. I see from the postings that some strategies may be same in different places while others may be the same. These are some of my reflections.

1. In Zambia, we usually hold these meetings in various communities of interest. There are usually already existing strategies for setting up meetings and we utilise these. For example, many villages will have a central meeting place for their meetings, and in times that we have information to share, we ask the organisers to plan a meeting and then we go there. In some cases, depending on the load of information, may just join already planned meetings and ask for a slot. We usually have a budget from relevant ministries to facilitate travel of experts.

2.There is usually a message sent out to communities/villages that you intend to visit them and you state what you want to achieve. During the meetings, you have short introductions of key people in your team( or all of them) and some village representatives. Then the members are allowed to ask questions as you go on, and when you are done with your presentation, you stay on as long as in necessary to allow them to digest the information and then ask questions. It's always important to simplify some scientific terms to improve communication.

3.There are different kinds of meeting, and in 2 above, we usually ask the village representatives to inform everyone willing to attend. The other meetings are at a higher level of understanding and these include various stake holders from many established groups like the media, farmers union/representatives, traders, teachers, government departments/ministries, etc.

4. As mentioned in 2 above, the discussions are more useful when you try to use the local languages used in the areas you visit. No one is employed based on the languages we speak, but it turns out that the team always has a member who can use the language in any area we visit, so that works very well.

5.Public meetings should be a continuous process. This allows for better acceptance for any outcomes/decisions.

6. We sometimes use questionnaires before the meeting starts and then collect notes during the meeting.

Many thanks,

Christopher Simoloka, Zambia
posted on 2014-05-09 07:07 UTC by Mr. Christopher Simoloka
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5959]
Dear all,

In Thailand, based on the cabinet decision in 2001, GM crops were not allowed to do field trial.   However, in 2007, the Cabinet has approved the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to prepare for the field trial of GM crops under the following conditions : 1) Conduct within government experimental stations. 2) The plan requires clear definitions Risk Assessment & Management of the planting area, the crop, control methods. 3) Studies on the effects on the environment and health in nearby locales would be included in the proposed plan. 4) Gathering of public opinion and other interested parties.  5) The study should be integrative and cooperative to reach a mutual agreement before submitting to the Cabinet for each area.

Nowadays, there is no field trail of GM crops in Thailand but some applicants planed to do field trail and there is no regulation for public meeting of GM crops.  As public meeting is one of condition to do field trail so the Biosafty officers will conduct public meeting regulation for GM crops soon.  Therefore, all information of each country is very useful as guideline for public meeting in Thailand in the future. 

Best wishes,
Mallika Kaewwises
(edited on 2014-05-09 09:20 UTC by Dr Mallika Kaewwises)
posted on 2014-05-09 09:17 UTC by Dr Mallika Kaewwises, Biotechnology and Development Office
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5962]
Posted on behalf of Abisai Mafa, Zimbabwe:

Dear Forum Participants,

Here is my contribution to theme 3: Public Meetings after reflecting on your inputs.


1. How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?
Public meetings play a crucial role in the governance of new and cutting edge technologies such as modern biotechnology that results in Living Modified Organisms (LMOs). There are times when the costs of conducting public meetings are justified e.g. to identify key policy issues to be considered in biosafety, to contribute to debates shaping biosafety policy, to input into biosafety decision making especially on field trials within a local authority or the first permit for LMOs for food feed and processing or LMOs for deliberate release into the environment. As a country these are the circumstances that we have solicited public input in these kinds of forums. However, environmental conservation NGOs have in the past simulated citizen’s juries. This however has never been considered by government as a practical means of soliciting public inputs. Our public meetings are formal meetings with broad stakeholder representation often focusing on national and provincial targets. However, there were instances were meetings were done a t a local level for example when field trials were to be undertaken in a specific community.

2. In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?
For us, public meetings have taken the form of formal meetings were stakeholder representatives are presented with issues to input into. The issues are normally presented by regulatory entities or experts. This would be followed by either plenary discussions or focus groups or question and answer sessions depending on issues under consideration.

3. In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?
We have in past tried to ensure broader stakeholder representation i.e. public entities, applicants, private sector, academia, civil society and the media. The idea being to bring everyone onboard regardless of their views and perceptions.  There are times of course were some interest groups wanted only their views to count, but we would make it clear that all views mattered and would be taken into account when making decisions. Applicants should be allowed to speech and so are dissenting voices.

4. Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?
Yes it is possible for meetings to be convened in vernacular languages, however there are challenges of using vernacular languages to discuss some of the issues that are highly technical. In most cases there are terms difficult to convert into vernacular languages.

5. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?
Our experience has been that public meetings with stakeholder representatives should be the main forum of soliciting public views in a transparent and cost effective manner. These should ideally start with awareness raising, then public entities can then open up the issues for discussion. The outputs of such discussions can help identify issues and the direction which policy should take. It is also essential that experts are roped in early so that policy is shaped by existing body of knowledge instead of guesswork or hearsay. Once public meetings have helped shape policy, they can also be useful in policy implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. Our experience has also made us realize the importance of consulting the public or conducting public meetings before making decisions to enable joint ownership of decisions. We did not legislate to allow for regulatory flexibility as the regulation and management of LMOs is a very dynamic thing. However, we are open to learn from others.

6. In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?
At public meetings, the views of all participants are captured in a report. However, there is also provision for stakeholder groups to submit written comments.
posted on 2014-05-09 12:29 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#6012]
Theme 3: Public meetings

Here are my comments on the theme 3.

• How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?

First of all, the national coordination biosafety centre should be a primary organizer of the public meetings. Article 23 of the Cartagena Protocol requires involving the public in the consultation process on genetic engineering activity issues. Certainly, any other NGO can organize such meeting but the national coordination biosafety centre should be informed about that event and participate actively in it. The cost of the meeting should be covered by the local administrative body if the national coordination biosafety initiates the event, and by NGO – if NGO is a meeting organizer.    

• In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?

In our experience, the meeting with developed agenda, speeches and question-answer sessions were the most effective.

• In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?

The criteria for whom to notify and include in public meetings depend on the meeting theme and the final aim. Participation in the meetings should be regulated by the application sending process to engage people really interested in biosafety issues. 

• Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?

In Belarus it is unfeasible to enable public meetings in language other than the official national languages (Russian and Belarusian). I think the situation may be different in other countries. In any way, the organizer should make a right decision on this matter to get the best result.

• In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?

The legislation requires keeping the public informed on all activities with GMO. So, the public meetings should take place before any activity.

• In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?

Any mechanism is good but we prefer collecting written notes or reports as more comfortable documents for their analysis by the National Coordination Biosafety Centre together with the National Aarhus Centre in Belarus and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. These Centres and the Ministry have websites and use them for provision the public and governmental competent bodies with meeting decisions.
posted on 2014-05-15 09:21 UTC by Assoc. Prof. Elena Makeyeva, Belarus
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#6023]
1. Public meetings are organised based on the issue and the communities that it affects.  It can be held in community centres or town halls or schools for communities.  It can be held in libraries as well.  The cost of public meetings should be covered by the government or agency hosting the meeting.

2. Public meetings are conducted usually in the common language of the people with presentations usually powerpoint, icebreaker, discussion time.

3. All should be allowed to participate if it is an information session. There should be representatives of all classes of people. If it is an enquiry session, the applications should also be allowed to participate.

4. In my country, the official languages are spoken at public meetings. That's all we have.

5. Public meetings should take place at all levels of the decision making process where the public input will be vital for successful biosafety management.

6. The main points from public meetings are collected as verbatim transcripts if taped, notes and summaries.  They are fed into the decision making process. There is no evaluation mechanism as yet.
posted on 2014-05-15 20:41 UTC by Ms. Anita James, Saint Lucia
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#6030]
Posted on behalf of Mr. Wouamane Mbele, Cameroon:

Dear Participants, please find below my comments on theme 3:

• How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?

Public meetings are often in form of public hearings, face-to-face meetings or interviews and are organized by governments or promoters on selected topics.  Costs are covered by government or the promoters.

• In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?

Public meetings are conducted according to a calendar and to an agenda; it can include speeches, should be moderated, can be in form of questions/answers sessions, with interventions in oral or in writing. At times, there are open discussions and conclusions may be drown together.

• In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?
Depending on the topic and the time allocated for the meeting, it may or not include all public: the more you include public, the more time and means it will need, the more inputs you may get.
No there should not be interventions or applications.

• Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?
Yes it is possible but not obligatory.

• In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?

Public meetings should be at every level listed i.e. from the development of regulatory frameworks, prior to the decision on an import of an LMO, to the field trials.
The time period depends on the topics: it can vary from some few hours to a whole day.


• In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?

Main points from meeting are collected using all these, i.e. verbatim transcripts, notes, report, and executive summaries. These are later on analysed, discussed, evaluated during adoption meetings.
posted on 2014-05-16 08:56 UTC by Mr DECLAN AMBE
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#6041]
Dear All,

My views on the Public meetings as per the questions are as follows

1) The public meetings are organised in and round where LMOS are introduced,the the cost should be bared by the promoter or developer.

2) Public meeting should be made by the speeches and slide show(Advertising Boards)


3) The criteria to whom to be notified is the end user's of the outcome of LMOS, and the interventions /applications should be allowed to participate

4) Yes it is possible to enable the public meetings in all languages using the suitable translator

5) Public meetings should take place before and  during the field trails of the LMOS and period should be few days.

6) Main points are collected by the feed back forms and possible open interview points collected and yes our  government has the evaluation mechanism through statistics.
posted on 2014-05-16 14:58 UTC by KARIPALLI AGNES RAJU, EXPORT INSPECTION AGENCY-KOLKATA (Ministry of Commerce and Industry , Govt.of India)
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5833]
Dear participants,
Thanks for your active participation in the first two  themes of our discussion  "Public Debates and Survey. Your contributions are highly appreciated.

As per modalities of the discussion, we have limited time for each theme and therefore I wish to close discussions on the two themes that have been exhaustively deliberated . We wish to now  give attention to the third theme " Public meetings". Our discussion on this theme will continue up to 5 May.

We look forward to your usual active participation.

Kind regards,

Johansen T. Voker
Moderator
posted on 2014-05-02 05:30 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5844]
Dear Voker, dear all,

please find below my comments to the Theme 3.

1. Public hearings should to be organized by the national government as it is requested by the domestic law and in accordance of the prerogative of the government to ensure public information and public consultation. At the same time, a partnership between government/nongovernment or government/private sector may also be involved to organization of the public meetings. The costs should be covered by the all mentioned partners.

2. A combination of methods would be preferable, including speeches, moderation, questions and answers, discussions, advisory panels, oral and writing interventions etc.  The organizers may select the method of conducting of the meetings depending of the topic discussed, targeted audience, financial opportunities, duration of the time of meeting, number of participants etc.
3. The main criteria for organization of public hearings is to ensuring equality and free access of public. In some cases the representativeness as sectorial (academia, NGO, students, private business etc.) might be applied. The representatives of notifier would be preferable to inform and answer questions arised.
4. Depending of the financial ability, citizens minorities may request to organize the public meetings in their national language. This possibility should not be ignored. This may contribute to better understanding by the public of the discussed topic, as well as ensure their active participation and respecting their opinion in decision making.
5. Public meetings can be organized at all important phases of the decision making, starting with the development of regulation and ended by the decisions on import of LMOs. The duration of the public meeting can vary depending of the topic, level of organization, number and category of participants etc, and may be within an hour to several days, or regular (one per month) as it is a usual practice in the country.  
6. Summaries, reports and overall note is being collected to be integrated into decision making. The individual, group or organizational notes, discussed during the public meetings can be submitted  to the national authorities to be considered for decisions.


Best wishes,
Angela
posted on 2014-05-03 16:12 UTC by Ms. Angela Lozan, Republic of Moldova
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5863]
Some general comments:

Regarding participation in public meetings:
Public meetings about LMO biosafety seem to be important. Actually, if you ask people, everybody agree with the need and importance of public meetings. However, and based on the situation of various countries in LAC, the need of public meetings contrast with the apathy and poor participation of people to assist to such public meetings. Interestingly, the success of the majority of calls is in the range of 20 to 60% (exceptional).
So, big efforts (in terms of time, money, etc.) are having very low impact as can be demonstrated with the fact that for several years many science-based public meetings on biotechnology and biosafety have been carried out around the globe. However, a simple message on the Internet or a publication without scientific rigour is enough to undermine the communication work carried out within the framework of these public meetings. What to modify in order to bring the attention of people and, more important yet,  to offer  elements that allow differentiate between rigorous scientific evidence from subjective beliefs in those public meetings?

Regarding importance of language (I do not know if is here the rigth place, anyway)
Language is an important issue in LMO discussions. Usually, translation from other languages (vg. from English) is opening space to interpretation. In addition, the non-perfect correspondence to some words generates confusion in concepts, which can be misinterpreted by the general public, as have been seen in Spanish for word/expressions such as "risk" and "hazard" and its understanding as "dangerous".

Now, answer to some of the questions:

3. Personally, I consider strategic and cost-effective to select specific groups for "public meetings". For its relevance, efforts must be put on (1) the media group (journalists and communicators),  (2) government officials, and  (3) academy. Each group must have a different pathway and language for approaching. Meetings for academics, could open participation of interventions/applications.

5. Public meetings must take place and are necessary when discussion on development of the national regulatory frameworks is carried out. For this purpose, extensive and detailed meetings (several days) could be good because is a form of inform and reach consensus. In contrast, if a country has in place a regulatory framework, I do not consider appropriate to have public meetings to discuss about field trials or final decisions on import LMOs. For these specific decision-making processes, public meetings could be considered as a manner to ask for public permission, and if it is like that there is no reason to have technical Commissions.
If people have concerns (technical, social, economic) about a particular event planned to be approved or imported, they can use the mechanisms (usually Internet based) to express such ideas. As it has been demonstrated, technical commissions will have the criteria to take in consideration the issues expressed by public based on complete information.
posted on 2014-05-04 23:26 UTC by Dr. Pedro Rocha, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5850]
Dear fellow PP Forum Participants,
My name is Johansen T. Voker, National Focal Point for the Cartagena Protocol in Liberia  and Head of the Biosafety Unit at the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia. I am also a member of the National Biosafety Committee and the   Technical Committee on Environmental Impact Assessment Technical Committee at the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia. I currently moderate this PP Forum. 

Thanks for the valuable contributions you have made on this theme and the last two themes as well.  I wish to discuss with you Liberia's perspectives regarding public meetings in the context of our existing environmental laws. We have not yet granted permit for introduction of LMOs into the environment but the current procedures in the conduct of ESIA are applicable to LMOs.

• How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?

Public meetings are mandated by our national environmental law to facilitate public awareness, education, and participation in the decision-making processes on the environment. The law provides for such meetings to be held in localities likely to be impacted to enable more face to face contact and interaction with the local people so they can have their inputs into the decision-making. Both the regulatory agency and applicants are required to conduct public meetings to create awareness as well as educate the public.  Public hearing is only required where at least five persons have officially registered disagreement with decision to grant permit. The cost for public meetings organized by the Government is financed by the Government through fees collected from applicants. On the other hand, if the meetings are organized by the applicants,   they bear the cost directly.

• In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?

Public meetings are usually guided by agenda and commenced with remarks on the objective and procedure for the conduct of the meeting. The meetings are also moderated by qualified government personnel. There are always opportunities for the public to interact through question and answer sessions, by means of oral intervention mostly. Panel discussions are sometimes held to provide opportunity for views from experts on different dimensions of the subject matter.

As regards general biosafety awareness and education, we have been able to conduct meetings for various sectors of the public with very good results in terms of helping them to understand the subject matter and participate meaningfully in the discussionsw. We have had school outreach as well as meetings with local and traditional leaders.  These meetings with specific target groups helped us to reach them with messages tailored to their needs and comprehension. 

• In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?

The law provides for meeting with persons likely to be impacted. However, for practical reasons, usually selected representatives of the stakeholders are invited to attend public meetings that are especially geared towards granting permits. The nomination of those who participate though, is done by heads of the respective stakeholder institutions.

• Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?

In our case, if the meeting is held in rural communities where the official language is not understood, interpretation is done in the local vernaculars. 

• In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?

Our environmental  law  provides  for public consultations at all levels including application stage to discuss the likely impacts and  mitigation measures  of an  undertaking with local communities ; later at decision-making point  there is a need for meeting also to get the inputs of the public. The notifications are usually sent to the stakeholders at least two week in advance  to enable them prepare well. The meeting could last up to three hours usually because we want to address any serious concerns.

• In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?


We usually have video recordings of the proceeding but reports are prepared on the main outcomes. There is no system in place for evaluation but there are provisions for appeal of decision in the event where the  applicant feel  aggrieved.

Regards,

Johansen T.Voker
posted on 2014-05-04 13:41 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5908]
Considerations from Burkina Faso

1. How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?
Les réunions publiques sont organisées dans diverses localités en fonction du groupe cible visé. Le lieu est choisi en tenant compte de la facilité de regroupement des acteurs.
Le coût est soit supporté par le gouvernement soit par le demandeur d’une autorisation.

2. In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?
Certaines réunions publiques sont placées sous le patronage d’une autorité administrative. Dans ce cas, elles débutent par un (ou plusieurs) discours qui situent le cadre de la rencontre, les objectifs et les résultats attendus. Par la suite, une présentation est livrée aux participants suivie de questions réponses.
S’il s’agit d’une audience publique où il est attendu que le public donne son avis motivé, la séance de question réponse est suivie d’un vote des participants. Le résultat du vote conditionne la suite de l’activité.


4. Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?
Des réunions publiques doivent être autorisées dans une langue autre que la langue nationale pour permettre l’implication du plus grand nombre d’acteurs. Dans ce cas, on doit faire appel à un ou plusieurs traducteurs professionnels.
5. In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?
Les réunions publiques peuvent intervenir :
- lors de l’élaboration de la réglementation (élaboration de la loi). Dans notre cas, l’atelier national qui a regroupé les différents groupes d’acteurs a durée trois jours et à permis de discuter tout le contenu et à y apporter des amendements.
- lors des essais sur le terrain ou les acteurs concernés doivent suivre tout le processus pouvant conduire à un résultat. Dans ce cas, les rencontres sont périodiques mais ne durent pas d’une demi-matinée.
posted on 2014-05-07 14:08 UTC by Pr. Chantal Yvette Zoungrana Kabore, Burkina Faso
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5944]
- How and where are public meetings (e.g. public hearings, citizens’ juries) organized (e.g. national/local governments, organizations, selected topics)? Who should cover the cost?

According to Salvadoran regulation and in accordance with the provisions of the environmental assessment, the meetings must be local and direct call for stakeholders. The exercise is led by the Competent Authority to issue which in turn covers the costs involved.
However, we believe that these meetings should be strengthened with greater participation of local governments as this ensures greater intersectoral representation appropriate for any decision making process.

- In your experience, how are public meetings being conducted (e.g. agenda with speeches, moderated, question and answer sessions, oversight/advisory panels, interventions in oral or writing, final decisions taken by a jury)?
In the case of El Salvador, is through of meetings conducted (and enabled) by a representative of a competent national authority who is responsible for addressing the topics in order to obtain the expected under the exchange of views that derive from the agenda results proposal to develop. Inputs obtained then made available to the Holders of the institutions to be to decide whether these are incorporated into the formal instruments (strategies, action plans) arising from its management.

- In your experience, what should the criteria be for who to notify and include in public meetings (e.g. all public or a selected representatives of the public, media, government officers, witnesses, testifiers)? Should interventions/applications be allowed to participate?

We believe that if you have a balanced exercise should be very assertive when selecting the participants and not just about having a formal representation but that the meetings provide valuable input enough to implement effective measures in institutional and national regulatory frameworks.

- Is it feasible to enable public meetings in languages other than the official national language(s)?

Taking into account the results that have been obtained with other instruments that are due to deploy resources provided in a language other than Spanish (official language of El Salvador) reaffirm our position on it that if you want to portray the reality of countries such a sensitive issue that is a priority surveys are handled formats attached to national native language as this is a guarantee that the reviews remain faithfully embodied; in the same context, it is of utmost importance if they are to translate these surveys into other languages (for example) that this translation is made by someone who knows the technical aspects that are addressed to the meaning and must be of response is the same regardless of the language you use is made.

- In your experience, at what point(s) in the decision-making process on LMOs should public meetings take place (e.g. development of regulatory frameworks, field trials and/or prior to or after making a decision on an import of an LMO)? What should the time period be (e.g. within an hour, a few hours, 1 day and/or a few days)?

According to our regulations (Chapter IV, Article 25 of the Environment Law), public meetings must take place before the decision is promoted for anyone who considers himself injured express their views or make written comments , which will be announced in advance in national media coverage and through other means.

- In what way are the main points from public meetings being collected (e.g. verbatim transcripts, notes, summaries, reports), analyzed and integrated into outcomes of final decisions? Does your government have an evaluation mechanism (e.g. independent review)?
All opinions are collected and transferred respecting the meaning and expressly under which they were discharged; this in turn is used for a group of experts (most of the time Ad-hoc) systematize the information which will serve as input to promote a process of decision making.

It has the support of an advisory group, which is entitled Special Regulations for Safe Management of Genetically Modified Organisms, will refer to that point when post about Advisory boards.
posted on 2014-05-08 15:25 UTC by Lic. Jeremias Ezequiel Yanes, El Salvador
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5969]
Public meetings can fulfill an important role in decision-making processes - especially when decisions are of a local concern and are hold locally, in the local language, and with a moderation that allows an equitable participation by all. But they are restricted in time and space.
As with the previous discussion threads: it is important that all parties involved know how the outcome of the debate will be taken into account.

It general it requires all participants to be available at the same time at the place, while other types of public participation take place more a-synchron (such as this online forum for example).

In the form of public hearings or citizens' jury they can allow the public to raise those issues they consider relevant and to ellaborate them together and with other stakeholders.

Other formats however can often be permissive, for example if travel time and costs are too great. Especially farming communities have different time restraints than for example office workers and therefore might not be able to attend a meeting when it collides with regular farm work. Members of the public often need to make for such meetings outside their work, while representatives of authorities and governments or company staff can participate as part of their work time. This imbalance makes it even more important that there is enough time for contribution by the public and that the results are taken into account later.

Adequate moderation and facilitation play an important role in engagement of the public in a public meeting. Too often there is an imbalance between the time allocated to presenters and invited speakers and the public who can only ask single questions. In general not everybody will even be able to speak in a public meeting.
The results of public meetings are often difficult to assess, for example when participants have a different understanding of the mood or the level of agreement or disagreement, or when the summary is contested.

Therefore public meetings should be carefully prepared to make the most of the (locale) knowledge and expertise that the participants bring to the meeting.
posted on 2014-05-09 13:55 UTC by Ms. Antje Lorch, Ecoropa
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#6045]
Dear All,
The essence of public meeting   is to ensure  their participation in decision making process. However, our discussions on this key process  so far show that there is no set rule for evaluating public inputs for inclusion in  decision-making, given the fact  that public views are usually divided on issues.   We would appreciate  if anyone can share with us how then,   they  take  public views into account in decision-making.

Regards,
Johansen T.Voker
Moderator, PP Forum
posted on 2014-05-16 16:53 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5980]
Advisory bodies do not only provide advice; in fact, they can be an important conduit by which affect groups and individuals can provide factual information to decision-makers. So, in this regard, they are mis-named.

If members of such panels are wisely chosen (and that is not always the case, since sometimes powerful interests want a "rubber stamp" operation to solidify their own positions), they may have such relevant knowledge.  In addition, if the panel sessions are public (as they should be), attendees can present information and evidence for use by decision-makers.

My most vivid personal experience of the workings of advisory panels was many years ago when I was appointed to a Washington State panel to advise the State Legislature on the question of siting a nuclear waste dump in our state (which, at the time, was actively being considered by the Federal government). In regard to the 1st question posed by J T Volker,  "Who should cover the costs [for such meetings]? "  I noted that industry representatives flew to our meetings from the far-away parts of the State and made up a significant proportion of the attendees. Under the US tax laws, all such expenses, including the salaries these people earned that day, were deductible from the corporate income and thereby reduced any taxes paid.  Thus, everyone was subsidizing their participation.

When I moved that the panel should ask the Legislature to provide funds to subsidize other points of view as well (e.g., for the travel of NGO representatives, affected individuals, etc), it was considered a bizarre notion.  The same consideration is true for the members of the panel--if some are being paid for their time serving, all the others (usually mere "ordinary" citizens) should receive a stipend from the public authority.  Why?  Not only is it just, as a matter of equity, but otherwise certain points of view are actually prevented from participating, to the impoverishment of the advisory process.

Prof philip L Bereano
Washington Biotechnology Action Council
posted on 2014-05-09 17:12 UTC by Dr. Philip L. Bereano, University of Washington
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#5995]
1. The public meetings are organized with several levels :
village, district, department. 
2.  The costs of the public meetings must be covered by which organizes them.  But It
is necessary that the government takes a significant share of the costs. 
3.  All the stakeholders must participate
4. Public meetings which proceed directly in the national languages
make it possible to save time because interpretation is removed and
the stakeholders are more understand  ;
5.  The public meetings must start as of the notification
6. Results of the public meetings are consigned in reports and should be taken into
account in the decisions.
posted on 2014-05-11 18:49 UTC by Mr. Comlan Marcel KAKPO, Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Habitat et de l'Urbanisme
RE: Theme 3: Public meetings [#6017]
1. Les réunions publiques sont organisées à plusieurs niveaux : villages, arrondissement, département et nationale.

2. Les coûts des réunions publiques doivent être couverts par celui qui les organise. Mais Il faut que le gouvernement prenne une part importante des coûts.

3. Toutes les parties prenantes doivent être prises en compte.

4. Les réunions publiques qui se déroulent directement dans les langues nationales permettent d’économiser le temps car l’interprétation est supprimée et les parties prenantes sont plus réceptives.

5. Les réunions publiques doivent commencer dès la notification.

6. Les résultats des réunions publiques sont consignés dans des rapports et devraient être pris en compte dans les décisions.
posted on 2014-05-15 12:53 UTC by Mr. Comlan Marcel KAKPO, Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Habitat et de l'Urbanisme