Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing societies today. Since 2006 the EPTA member organisations have launched more than 20 projects examining various aspects of the climate change challenges and policy options.
Taking place in Barcelona, 18-22 July, the Euroscience Open Forum is a major venue for connecting academia, politics and the general public. The EPTA-network will host debates about the interaction between democracy and expertise.
Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) gives an opportunity to discuss technological advances like nanotechnology, and challenges like climate change, societal dilemmas and how stakeholders and policy-makers can adjust.
The EPTA-network's experience with connecting science with policy-making and enabling broader public debate and participation, is of high interest. Parliamentarians from the European and national parliaments will take part in Barcelona, alongside representatives from a number of EPTA-institutions.
Science and governance
On the 19th of July, EPTA hosts a debate on the interaction between democracy and expertise. From 2:30-6:00 pm, we present insights into our work in delivering scientific evaluation of technological options. The session will highlight the experiences of the European Parliament and national parliaments who have undertaken projects with significant scientific or technological content.
During the session parliamentarians will be invited to have dialogues with practitioners in technology assessment and with the audience.
Nanotechnology and dilemmas
The session involves two major topics. Firstly, the case of nanotechnology is a prominent example of an emerging, and thereby uncertain technology. We will discuss how this should be understood in terms of societal dilemmas and needs for policy-making.
Secondly, we take a general perspective on how to make TA and scientific insights relevant for politics in general, based on insights from TA-projects on climate change and nanotechnology.
EPTA participants include STOA (the European Parliament), the Rathenau Institute (The Netherlands), the Flemish Institute for Science and Technology, the for Technology Assessment in Austria, TA-Swiss, the Norwegian Board of Technology, the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Parliament and the Danish Board of Technology.
EPTA will also participate in the exhibition, with opportunities to exchange views and experiences on science and governance.
About ESOF Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) presents and profiles Europe's leading research trends in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. This is a biannual event.
ESOF 2008 takes place in the Barcelona Conference Centre, in the centre of Barcelona.
What issues will become relevant for technology assessment over the next 3 years? That was the question asked by the Dutch presidency to the EPTA Directors’ meeting.
The Rathenau institute had a challenge ready for the different EPTA directors, as they gathered for their annual meeting in the Dutch parliament in The Hague 26-27 April 2008. What discussions should we prepare for in the coming years?
The different answers were the starting point for vivid discussions on a range of upcoming topics:
Each participant had prepared a short introduction to the session, and the Rathenau Institute will produce a report based on the discusstions.
EPTA conference on the future of pTA
Director Jan Staman of the Rathenau institute presented the plans for the 2008 EPTA conference in the Dutch parliament 26-27 October. The title of the conference is “Inspiring Future Politics – How parliamentary technology assessors can best stimulate the political debat”. To address this question the conference will look for inspiration in- and outside the community of parliamentary TA practitioners. As such, speakers will include business leaders, scientists, TA practitioners and parliamentarians.
UK presidency of EPTA in 2009
The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) has offered to hold the EPTA presidency for 2009. This presidency will be a part of the 20th anniversary of POST. POST plans to arrange the Directors’ meeting in Edinburgh and the EPTA Conference in the Houses of Parliament in London.
The candidacy was highly recommended by the Directors’ meeting.
Director: J. Staman
Is synthetic biology the new hype or hope? What is plan B for tackling climate change - and what about urban transport in 2032? These questions were discussed by 40 project managers from 11 European countries at an EPTA workshop in Norway
Every second year the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment (EPTA) organizes a meeting for the staff of its member institutions. The successful 2008 EPTA practitioners meeting were organized at snowy Sjusjøen – a mountain area 200 km north of Oslo in April.
The workshop consisted of plenary and group discussions on current technology assessment issues in Europe.
A short summary of the discussions:
The need for a radical climate transition
A more radical climate policy may be necessary within few years, and TA institutions should consider how they may contribute in developing this policy. One project proposal was related to what is the Plan B of the climate changes, if Plan A – i.e. current policies – for CO2 reductions seems to fail?
The aging population of Europe and its future
There will a gap between the aging populations need for assistance and the workforce and resources available in the future. Prolonged independent living related to housing, and prevention rather than treatment related to health issues was pointed out as two possible projects related to this topic.
The group discussing synthetic biology started by asking: “Why should TA be interested in synthetic biology?” Their answer was that synthetic biology is a concept with imaginative power, surrounded by uncertainty, and a typical example of emerging technologies where there is a need of information.
Future TA projects may assess what synthetic biology is, who is involved, what kind of dynamics, what actors think it may lead to, both with respect to intended and unintended consequences. Both national and international project designs were provided by this group.
Media strategy and communication in TA
The media group made a proposal for a media and communication strategy for the ongoing EPTA GMO project. This group concluded that the EPTA institutions have such different approaches towards both media and the role they play in the public debate – that each institution should make a national communication package. But that common outlets, possible stories, fact sheets, illustrations etc. should be made available for all. However, a common EPTA event could be arranged to draw attention to the project results.
TA Project design
This group worked with project design, and proposed a project with scenarios for urban transport set in 2032. The first step of the project would be to examine the current situation, and the second part to develop scenarios that can stimulate debate and make suggestion for innovative policy options. The process should involve lay people, experts and local politicians.
Project managers Cathrine Heisholt and Jon Fixdal
Phone: +47 23 31 83 25 / + 47 23 31 83 12
Fax: +47 23 31 83 01