Thursday, 17 November 2011

Good governance for geoengineering

Phil Macnaghten and Richard Owen have published a review of the stagegate process in Nature this week...

Nature, 479, 293, 17 November 2011, doi:10.1038/479293a



Whilst reporting it in full here doubtless breaks numerous copyright laws I think I can discuss (and quote) specifics...

The most interesting paragraph (from the perspective of someone who went through the process) is the section on 'Lessons learned'

'Aspects of SPICE's governance could have been improved. The framework should have been in place before the project's conception; the test date should not have been announced until the stage-gate criteria had been met; and the structures and resources to support the social research should have been in place earlier. Even now, the decision on whether to proceed will not be easy. There are few right or wrong answers to the many questions about climate engineering. But it is vital that we make space to listen to and discuss these questions, and that the debate transparently influences the decisions that are taken.'

I think, overall, I agree with this. SPICE, of course, had no control over the pre-workshop decisions on governance and social research and I have strongly endorsed the position that social scientists should have been part of the workshop process. Such is the nature of that process. The test date is a harder one - for the record SPICE were determined to be as open as possible about the outdoor experiment and have been accused, utterly unfairly, of being secretive. We needed clearer signals that the stagegate was likely to be imposed - I worry that it could be misconstrued that we ignored the signs from the panel and ploughed on with the press briefing anyway.

Phil and I are on Material World (BBC radio 4) this afternoon at 4.30 pm to discuss this live. I am sure, as always, it will be a positive and useful interaction.




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