Public Participation in the Selection of Sustainable Development Indicators in Limerick and Freshford, Ireland: Implications for Policy on Advancing Sustainability

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Resource or Project Abstract

This project created and evaluated a method that enables a wide range of stakeholders to participate in policy making for sustainable development. It was clear from the outcomes that participants? views and attitudes in relation to sustainable development did not easily articulate with technical and expert conceptualisations of sustainable development. Further, it was clear that participants did not share a single set of views, and that while it was possible to identify groups of participants with broadly similar views, differences between groups were often marked. These were of significance in the next stage of the project, which was to identify indicators which were seen to be relevant, technically meaningful and capable of being developed. Differences between the indicators selected by the policy makers (top-down) and the stakeholders/participants (bottom-up) were evident. Indicators selected by policy makers were more technical in language, and were concerned with strategic issues, reflecting a technical understanding of available data. Indicators derived through public participation were very different, and reflected much more local-scale concerns, and more frequently concerned issues that affected participant?s daily lives. However, to a considerable degree, the two sets of indicators were in agreement in relation to the important themes within sustainable development: both were concerned with health, road safety, crime, employment availability, educational attainment, water quality and waste management. However, the differences identified are of great importance and may explain in large measure why ?official? sets of indicators often fail to resonate with the wider public. Results suggest that society in general may be in broad agreement in relation to the importance of sustainable development, but this importance is perceived in very different ways, and communication opportunities are lost when this is not recognised. The project delivered a final set of 36 indicators identified by participating stakeholders: these may form the basis of similar future participation processes at similar or wider scales. Replication of the process may clarify means of identifying and removing roadblocks to the public?s buy-in to policies designed to strengthen sustainable development.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Bernadette O'Regan,
University of Limerick

Professor. Richard Moles
University of Limerick

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Attachment Name and Download Link
End of Project Report    STRIVE_13_ORegan_SustainableDevelopment_epr.pdf  (6.19 Mb)
Offline Print Quality Version    STRIVE_13_ORegan_SustainableDevelopment_syn_prn.pdf  (2.06 Mb)
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    STRIVE_13_ORegan_SustainableDevelopment_syn_web.pdf  (1.77 Mb)
Att 4    2004-SD-MS-19-Executive_Summary.pdf   (0.08 Mb)
Att 5    2004-SD-MS-19-Appendices_Only.pdf.pdf   (4.25 Mb)

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Author(s)O'Regan,, B. Moles, R.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationPublic Participation in the Selection of Sustainable Development Indicators in Limerick and Freshford, Ireland: Implications for Policy on Advancing Sustainability
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL
Unique Identifiere9029b41-344e-102c-b381-901ddd016b14
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-06-14

An example of this citation in proper usage:

O'Regan,, B. Moles, R.   "Public Participation in the Selection of Sustainable Development Indicators in Limerick and Freshford, Ireland: Implications for Policy on Advancing Sustainability". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (Last Accessed: 2024-06-14)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource Keywordssustainability indicators environmental decision making public participation Q-method
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2004-SD-MS-19
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeSocio-Economics
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceThe reports attached to this data resource have been made publicly available. You are free to use these reports in your research and analysis. However you should accurate cite the authors of these reports and the Environmental Protection Agency in any dervied publications or products which use knowledge from these reports. You must ensure that you protect and do not interfere with any trade names and Trade Marks that are in or accompany the Data.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 5
Project Start Date Saturday 1st May 2004 (01-05-2004)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Tuesday 10th January 2006 (10-01-2006)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Sunday 10th December 2006 (10-12-2006)
Published on SAFERThursday 15th January 2009 (15-01-2009)
Date of Last EditThursday 15th January 2009 at 12:39:33 (15-01-2009)
Datasets or Files Updated On Thursday 15th January 2009 at 12:39:33 (15-01-2009)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
The methodology was implemented in two settings in Ireland, Limerick City and Freshford, Co. Kilkenny (a small village), in order to evaluate its applicability in different settings. Prior to the selection of the participants, a public information programme was undertaken to provide potential participants with information on sustainable development and relevant policies, so as to inform their decision as to whether or not to participate, and to increase the public?s awareness of the complex issues surrounding sustainable development. Eleven participant groups were identified, and a special effort was made to include stakeholder groups generally not well represented in such participation processes.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

In this section some supplementary information about this resource is outlined. Lineage information helps us to understand why this project was carried out, what policy or research requirements did it fulfil, etc. Lineage is important in understanding the rationale behind the carrying out of a project or the collection of a specific dataset etc. Links to web sites, applications, papers, etc are outlined to provide you with additional information or supplementary reading about the project or dataset

Lineage information about this project or dataset
Within EU and national policy, there is a recognised need for stakeholders (including business, industry, agriculture, communities and NGOs) to play a more active role in the selection of sustainability indicators as a basis for social, economic and environmental decision making, in the belief that this will lead to more effective policy development and implementation. The aims of this research project were to devise,
demonstrate and evaluate a methodology for effective public participation in sustainability indicator selection,and to identify those indicators considered most important by members of the public within Limerick City and the small rural settlement of Freshford, Co. Kilkenny
Supplementary Information
The Q-method and other aspects of the methodology, study participant selection, data analysis, etc are discussed in full details in the End of Project Report which is available for download from this data resource.

The following individuals were also authors of the reports which are attached to this data resource: Dr Annette Aboulafia, Paul Kearney, Dr Donnacha Doody (All Centre for Environmental Research Limerick University) and Dr John Barry (Institute of Governance, Public Policy and
Social Research, Queen?s University Belfast Northern Ireland)
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