What is TIGER?

It is an international comparative research project targeting policy decision-making and public participation on energy, chemicals and water issues

1. Research Objective and Background

 Nuclear power and energy matters are typically the source of numerous frictions between science/technology and society. That sort of problem is the reason why decision-making instruments in the field of science and technology policies are an urgent agenda. Despite the fact that cutting-edge mechanisms and good practices such as consensus building conferences are already in place, they are either on a trial stage or limited to a region or to a certain area of science. Furthermore, it is difficult to state that such issue has an international-wide common ground of understanding.
The Aarhus Convention, adopted in 1998, aims at securing the environmental rights and the promotion of environmental democracy by guaranteeing the “Green Access” basic rights: access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. Despite the fact there is a relatively standardized legal framework on e.g. environmental assessment for issuing a permit, on the other hand, as for energy strategy and environmental planning issues, for example, the public participation instruments vary considerably according to the country. We could also identify abundant non-governmental institutions and non-official initiatives, as well as that issues such as ensuring democratic legitimacy and effectiveness are also a major concern. Those issues prove the necessity of a systematic international collaborative research on such public participation issues.
This research will focus on the environmental policies related to science and technology, from the perspective of Law, Sustainability Science and Technological Society Theory, being conducted in coordination with universities from Asia, Europe, South America and the United States. By proposing a fundamental rationale on social decision-making, we aim at contributing to the promotion of the science and technology democratization and to the construction of a sustainable society.

2. Research Contents and Methodology

This research project’s object is the environmental policy related to science and technology. Although limited to the environmental field, it can extend for many branches. In this sense, this project will focus the following fields of study: (1) nuclear power and energy; (2) chemical substances management; and (3) water management. The target countries will be Brazil, China, France, Germany, Thailand and the United States.
(1) Nuclear Power and Energy Field. Largely criticized in many countries, not only in Japan, for lacking a democratic decision-making structure. The accident at the Tokyo Electrical Power Company’s Fukushima nuclear plant has awakened the society for such issue. In Japan, based on the results of deliberative polling, an “innovative energy and environmental strategy” has been developed. However, it has not affected neither the Atomic Energy Basic Law nor the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law, which remains lacking provisions about public participation. This project will evaluate, in collaboration with international experts, the developments of decision-making instruments on energy policies after the Fukushima accident. As a result, we expect to shed new light on the Japanese profile on participation and nuclear issues, as well as its position before the international community.
(2) Chemical Substances Management Field. As per verified in the PRTR system, risk communication legislation have advanced very fast in many countries. Internationally, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Minamata Convention on Mercury have both stressed the importance of the dialogue with NGOs and the consensus building. As for the Chemical Substances Management Field, there are many specific and pioneering cases targeted by preceding research, in comparison with the Energy Field. By aggregating such field to this project, we aim at ensuring research results pointing to positive experiences on consensus building.
(3) Water Management Field. It is a source of conflicts especially on international river courses, such as the Columbia, the Mekong and the Danube. Impacts on the biological diversity or technological matters are often the point at issue.
Among the existing public consultation and participation based consensus building instruments, we have the policy-making one and the individual decision-making (ex. activity permit) one. In this project, we will focus the former. However, some aspects of the latter will be taken into consideration to clarify the characteristics of the policy-making based instrument. In doing so, we aim at contributing to the development of an international consensus building mechanism.
The research method will have the following characteristics. Firstly, as for the three branches of investigation above mentioned, they will be studied from a multidisciplinary perspective comprising the following academic fields: Law, Sustainability Science the Technological Society Theory. Osaka University has specific departments for each of these disciplines, enabling an integrated approach. Secondly, the research representative and other contributors of Osaka University have their own networks in their respective area of expertise. We will combine these unique networks to build an even broader and diversified research network. Finally, the conventional Japanese research on consensus building instruments tends to focus basically on developed countries experiences. However, this project will also count on the participation of front line researchers from Brazil, China and Thailand. That will enable us to widely explore the diversity and commonalities of consensus building instruments across the globe. On the other hand, revealing an international common goal on this matter might prove to be a challenging task.

3. Research Team

Research Representative and Osaka University’s Initiatives

Research Representative
OKUBO Noriko, Professor – Graduate School of Law and Politics
Communication Design Center
KOBAYASHI Tadashi, Professor
HIRAKWA Hideyuki, Professor
Graduate School of Law and Politics
MITSUNARI Kenji, Professor, director of the Communication Design Center
FUKUI Kota, Professor
NAKAYAMA Ryuichi, Professor
Law School
MATSUMOTO Kazuhiko, Professor
School of International Public Policy
MATSUMOTO Mitsuo, Associate Professor
Sustainability Design Center
HARA Keishiro, Associate Professor
Uwasu Michinori, Associate Professor

Research Collaborators and Organizations

BÖHM, Monika, Professor – Marburg University
BOUTONNET, Mathilde, Professor – Aix-Marseille University
DOMINGUES, José Marcos, Professor – State of Rio de Janeiro University
DOREMUS, Holly, Professor – University of California, Berkeley
FARBER, Daniel, Professor – University of California, Berkeley
IGLECIAS, Patrícia, Professor – São Paulo University
PRIEUR, Michel, Professor, President of the International Centre of Comparative Environmental Law
ROSSMANN, Antonio, Lecturer – University of California, Berkeley
SIRIPORN, Wajjwalku, Professor, Dean – Thammasat University
WINICKOFF, David, Associate Professor – University of California, Berkeley
YEH, Jiunn-rong, Professor – National Taiwan University
ZHANG, Xinjun, Associate Professor – Tsinghua University
ZHAO, Huiyum, Associate Professor – Shanghai Jiaotong Univers

4. Our Logo: the Tiger

The logo of our project is the Tiger, one of the endangered species in Asia. It is also an acronym standing for “Technology International Green access Environmental Rights”, which summarizes this research project. According to a traditional Japanese maxim, a tiger goes back and forth 1000Ri (cir. 400km) on the same day. In this sense, it also symbolizes both the dynamism of this research and Asia, where Osaka University is located.