A Psychosocial Approach to Stakeholder Participation in Environmental Problem Solving. The Case of the Contaminated Site Cleanup at Mapua, New Zealand
Problem Statement: Stakeholder participation has been widely touted as a necessary means to help resolve complex environmental issues, however there are deficiencies in current theory regarding the basis of effective participatory processes, particularly with regard to psychosocial components of interaction. Approach: A detailed case investigation is undertaken of a typical example of technoscientific problem solving - the cleanup of a contaminated site in Mapua, New Zealand. Results: Analysis highlights the deficiencies of the traditional problem solving approach which limits stakeholder participation, leading to negative emotional reactions and hampering attempts at robust, successful environmental problem solving. In contrast, a model of effective stakeholder participation is developed, based on three principle themes of empathy, understanding and empowerment. These three themes provide a new formulation for stakeholder participation environmental problem solving and a means of questioning the systems which currently exist for addressing environmental issues.
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