Accountability of experts in the Danish national park process

Citation:
Lund LH;, Boon TE. "Accountability of experts in the Danish national park process.". 2009.

Abstract:

In 2002 the Danish Minister of Environment initiated a process to investigate the possibilities of establishing national parks in Denmark. For this purpose experts were mobilised to investigate the status and potentials of the areas in question. The national park process was extensive in scope and complex, and in theory such complexity is assumed to make it difficult for non-experts to understand all the relevant aspects of policy. This exclusion of non-experts may lead to scientification of politics. Furthermore politicisation of science might occur as experts might advocate political interests disguised as objective science, and policy-makers might select results that further their own interests. As a result policy-makers risk losing a source of legitimacy, scientists risk losing credibility and the citizens risk losing the possibility to hold policy-makers accountable for their decisions, which puts democracy at risk. This paper examines the accountability relationships that experts were a part of in the national park process. These include accountability towards the employer, towards the buyer and towards the general public. The purpose is to determine if these relationships were adequate to circumvent the problems associated with scientification of politics and to discuss how accountability relationships and thereby democracy could be strengthened. The empirical analysis shows that in the national park process experts were mainly accountable towards the National Forest and Nature Agency. There were formal accountability relationships between the experts and the local steering committees and the national advisory group, but these relationships were less significant. Moreover, despite the fact that the process was deemed unusually open to the public by the participants, the relationship between experts and the public cannot be characterised as an accountability relationship and could have been improved by including experts in the deliberative fora of the process.

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