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