Using Citizen panels, planning cells, or citizen juries to communicate risk

Citizen panels are groups of randomly selected people who are asked to write a set of policy recommendations about risk management. This gives the chance for the public to learn about the issues, to learn about the policy process and to incorporate their values into the policy process.

The people selected are given about four days of education at the start of the process. All participants are given information through hearings, lectures, discussions, videotapes, and field tours.  Several hundred citizens can be involved if they are separated into panels grouped into 20-25 people, all with the same programme and agenda. If most of the panels come up with similar conclusions, then the conclusion can be made that it is representative of the general public.

The citizen panel is an expensive and time-consuming method of obtaining feed-back on policy.  Sometimes the issue is too complicated and technical to be delegated to the public but the process has been very succesful in many situations and should be considered. 



Adapted from OECD Guidance Document on Risk Communication for Chemical Risk Management

Citizen panels give citizens the opportunity to learn about the technical and political aspects of risk management options, and allow them to discuss and evaluate these options and their likely consequences
Source: Deepak Jois
Hatfield Consultants The World Bank funded by the Canadian POPs Trust Fund through the      
Canadian International Development Agency
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