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Community engagement in the management of biosolids: Lessons from four New Zealand studies

Abstract

Biosolids management has been largely overlooked as an issue for environmental co-management, collaborative learning and public participation. This paper summarises four research projects on facilitating community involvement in biosolids management in New Zealand. The authors situate these studies both in relation to the New Zealand institutional and policy context for the management of biosolids and in relation to the themes of public participation and social learning in the literature on community involvement in environmental management. From the studies it can be concluded that: the incorporation of the knowledge and views of Māori is important from both public-participation and social-learning perspectives; both public-participation and social-learning approaches must consider the role of issue-definition in relation to willingness to participate; democratic accountability remains a challenge for both approaches; and locating biosolids management within an integrated water-and-wastewater or sustainable waste-management strategy may facilitate wider community participation as well as better-coordinated decision-making.

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