PACITA - Parliaments and Civil Society in Technology Assessment - is a four-year project aimed at increasing the capacity of parliaments across Europe to integrate knowledge from science, stakeholders and citizens in policy-making and ensure more extensive inclusion of science in policy development.
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The project brings together 15 European partners from national/regional parliamentary offices for science and technology, science academies, research institutions, universities and civil society organizations. It is coordinated by a Parliamentary Technology Assessment (PTA) institution, the Danish Board of Technology.
This project has established a forum and learning platform devoted to science, technology and innovation that seek to facilitate continuous discussion between the European Union (EU)’s Member State parliaments, the European Parliament, and the main research and technology development stakeholders in Europe.
Started in April 2011, PACITA is financed under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and will run until 2015.
During the project, a series of case studies will be undertaken together with PACITA partners looking at some very topical issues.
Project partners will examine the issue of Public Health Genomics and stimulate a cross-disciplinary discussion of the central societal aspects and include a parliamentary hearing process.
A second case study will be a Citizens Consultation on Sustainable Consumption - an issue that needs strong knowledge-based action and involves difficult choices and dilemmas for the individual citizen and potential consumer.
A further project called a Scenario Workshop on Telecare in the Ageing Society will seek to identify common ground in the field between scientific/technological possibilities and the interests of many stakeholders.
The practices of Parliamentary Technology Assessment (PTA) institutions are quite diverse across Europe. Different countries have their own approach to providing information and advice on the societal aspects of science and technology in policy-making, either through a dedicated advisory service, special committees or parliamentary panels or special relationships with external advisory organisations.
PACITA will also mobilise a wide range of actors in at least eight European countries, which do not have a structured or institutionalised approach to knowledge-based policy-making on topics with a prominent aspect of science and technology.
Training is part of the project and a number of Practitioners Meetings are being organised in which PTA project managers will be training newcomer project managers on methodology, networking and communication. Two European conferences on technology assessment are planned to extend the understanding of potential users of PTA in newcomer countries.
A European newsletter and project web portal will facilitate wider discussion of the key issues of relevance for knowledge-based policy-making.
“The PACITA project intends to enhance the institutional foundation of Parliamentary Technology Assessment (PTA) and further integrate scientific thinking in policy-making,” commented project coordinator Lars Klüver of the Danish Technology Board.
“Through PACITA we aim to enhance communication between the worlds of science, civil society, parliaments and other stakeholders to create a broad base of knowledge, legitimate assessments and common ownership of the outcomes.
“PACITA will document current practices and stimulate a wide debate involving experts, societal actors and politicians on these practices and encourage mutual learning and mobilisation.”