Participation of experts and non-experts in a sustainability assessment of mobility



The complexity, ambiguity and subjectivity that surround persistent problems of unsustainability, such as mobility, highlight the importance of stakeholder engagement in both knowledge production and policy development. This paper reports on research within the EU-funded MATISSE project to develop tools and methods for Integrated Sustainability Assessment (ISA), a novel interdisciplinary and participatory approach to sustainability strategy development. Two different methods – expert focus groups and citizen deliberative workshops – were employed to elicit knowledge and preferences of European stakeholders in respect of sustainable mobility. Findings from these exercises indicate areas of both convergence and divergence in the visions of sustainable mobility futures depicted by different stakeholder groups. Stakeholders agreed on the need to address problems of unsustainability in the transport sector, and identified broadly similar environmental, social and economic criteria for sustainable transport. Amenity of transport was more important for citizens, while experts focussed on pragmatic and technological issues. Both groups favoured modal shift and novel technologies, and citizens also supported demand reduction measures and choices; however, a range of barriers to achieving sustainable mobility was also identified by participants. Stakeholder feedback suggests the process was valuable and acted as a forum for social learning and the co-production of knowledge by citizens and experts, while at the same time empowering these groups to participate in an important social issue such as transport. The value and limitations of these methods for ISA are discussed and avenues for further research proposed. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.