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Trustworthy knowledge for policy and political decision-making

Democratic information society
Ministeries en Binnenhof vanaf Lange Vijverberg
The changing role of government, the decentralisation of tasks, the desire to involve the public in government and the large amount of digital data raise questions about knowledge management: how can we ensure that all relevant knowledge is used in policy development in the right way? How do we make sure that normative issues and interests are balanced in a transparent manner? To what extent is policy development “technocratic”? When do politicians need to clarify choices and take responsibility?

The interests of future generations need to be considered in debates on a number of tricky issues, where long-term risks are uncertain. Examples include the disposal of radioactive waste or the safety of biotechnology. It is precisely in these debates that both values and scientific results are often contested. This sometimes leads to juridification, rather than recognition of uncertainty, opening up the dialogue or inclusion of more stakeholders.  We intend to focus systematically on ways of considering the interests of future generations in decision-making.

We will also be working with a large number of European partners on current interpretations of the “precautionary principle” in the RECIPES project. As part of the T-TRIPP programme, we work with policymakers and researchers to ensure the safety of modern biotechnology. Over the coming years we will organise a Future Panel around the development of the synthetic cell and the significance of this technology for our thinking about creating “life” in future. The Rathenau Instituut has developed a number of methods for conducting dialogue.

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