Opening the research agenda for selection of hot spots for human biomonitoring research in Belgium: a participatory research project
Background In order to select priority hotspots for environment and health research in Flanders (Belgium), an open procedure was organized. Environment and health hotspots are strong polluting point sources with possible health effects for residents living in the vicinity of the hot spot. The selection procedure was part of the work of the Flemish Centre of Expertise for Environment and Health, which investigates the relation between environmental pollution and human health. The project is funded and steered by the Flemish government. Methods The involvement of other actors than merely experts is inspired by the 'analytical-deliberative' approach of the National Research Council in the United States and the extended peer community approach. These approaches stress the importance of involving different expert- and social perspectives in order to increase the knowledge base on complex issues. In the procedure used in the project a combination of expert and stakeholder input was essential. The final decision was supported by a multi-criteria analysis of expert assessment and stakeholder advice. Results The endeavour was challenging from the start because of the complicated ambition of including a diversity of actors, potential hotspots, concerns and assessment criteria, but nevertheless the procedure proved its value in both structuring and informing the decision-making process. Moreover the process gained the support of most actors participating in the process, even though the final selection could not satisfy all preferences. Conclusions Opening the research agenda exemplifies the value of inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation as well as the need for a well-structured and negotiated procedure that combines relevant factors and actors with pragmatism. The value of such a process also needs to prove itself in practice after the procedure has been completed: the tension between an ambition of openness on the one hand and a more closed attitude amongst experts on the other will continue to play a role even after closure.
Source (journal)
Environmental health: a global access science source. - London
London : 2010
9(2010), p. 33,1-33,38
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Publications with a UAntwerp address
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Web of Science
Creation 07.07.2010
Last edited 22.05.2017
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