• Period | 2008 - 2010
  • Country | Bergen, Norway
  • Market | Environmental engineering
  • Project Manager | Amy M P Oen
  • Partner | NIVA, Bioforsk, TNO
  • Client | The Research Council of Norway
R&D program|

Sediment and society

The overall objective of the Sediment and Society research project is to recommend an integrated management strategy for stakeholder involvement that can be implemented within the existing national management framework for contaminated marine sediments.
Stakeholder involvement
and management framework
for contaminated marine sediments.

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Management options for large scale remediation of contaminated sediment projects can be challenging with regard to competing stakeholder interests. A main objective in the management of marine sediments lies in the goal to achieve contaminant levels in sediment and biota which are acceptable to the ecological and human health risk. This three year research project (2008-2010) has the aim to develop a collaborative approach that will incorporate local and scientific knowledge in order to achieve mutual gains in the management of contaminated marine sediments.

The methodological task is to assess and employ alternative approaches of stakeholder involvement - from informative, through consultative, to participative - in sediment remediation planning. The sediment remediation project in Oslo Harbour has shown the need for a methodology for engaging stakeholders early in the sediment management process. Bergen Harbour has been designated by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority as one of four contaminated harbours particularly in need for sediment remediation efforts.

Background

In Norway, serious contamination of marine sediments has been found in more than 120 areas/locations and this has resulted in restrictions on the consumption of fish and fishery products in 24 fjords and harbours covering an area of 820 km2.

Thus a main objective in the management of marine sediments lies in the goal to achieve contaminant levels in sediment and biota which are acceptable to the ecological and human health risk.

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However, management options for large scale contaminated sediment remediation projects can be challenging with regard to competing stakeholder interests. The reasons may include, high upfront remediation costs, often unequal distribution of these costs, scientific uncertainty about health and environmental risks, and differing stakeholder perceptions of the risks. The issues illustrate the limitations of technological solutions, but the participation of stakeholders throughout the process may help in addressing some of the limitations.

NGI, NIVA, Bioforsk and TNO from the Netherlands have therefore initiated a three year research project (2008-2010) funded by the Norwegian Research Council, with the aim to develop a collaborative approach that will incorporate local and scientific knowledge in order to  achieve  mutual gains in the management of contaminated marine sediments.

The core methodological task of the Sediment and Society research project is to assess and employ alternative approaches of stakeholder involvement - from informative, through consultative, to participative - in sediment remediation planning. In order to accomplish this task, the research team will focus on two Norwegian harbours: Oslo Harbour and Bergen Harbour.

The ongoing sediment remediation project in Oslo Harbour suggests the need for a methodology for engaging stakeholders early in the sediment management process. TNO is therefore responsible for assessing stakeholder perceptions and interests with regard to sediment issues in Oslo Harbour. The extent to which stakeholder involvement approaches influenced the outcomes in Oslo Harbour will be reviewed in the assessment of stakeholder perceptions, including: the institutional context, the culture of an organisation, as well as the background of different stakeholders.

Bergen Harbour has been designated by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority as one of four contaminated harbours particularly in need for sediment remediation efforts. Therefore the project team aims to employ novel and innovative methods to identify relevant stakeholders, their perceptions, and interests. This information, as well as the lessons learned in evaluating existing methods for collaborative stakeholder approaches, will be utilised to develop a workshop series for Bergen Harbour which will be conducted to incorporate local and scientific knowledge in discussing the different stakeholder interests in Bergen.

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Objectives and relevance

The overall objective of the Sediment and Society research project is to recommend an integrated management strategy for stakeholder involvement that can be implemented within the existing national management framework for contaminated marine sediments.

As specified in the latest call for proposals for "Oceans and the Coastal Area" research programme under the topic "Management and Conflict resolution" and the sub-topic "Conflicts of Interests", utilisation of marine resources are often characterised by conflicting interests which are apparent from the economic consequences and the distribution of equity or value which results when selecting a management model. The latest call specifies a need to conduct research which can suggest how conflicting interests can be managed in the best manner possible.

Thus the primary objective of the project is to recognize the conflicting interests which exist in the management of contaminated marine sediments and develop a collaborative approach which incorporates local and scientific knowledge in order to reach mutual gains. In order to carry out the primary objective, the following sub-objectives will be addressed:

  • Assess stakeholder perceptions and interests with regard to sediment issues using Oslo Harbour as a relevant past and current case and evaluate their causes and characteristics.
  • Establish Bergen Harbour as a relevant future case for sediment remediation and identify relevant stakeholders, their perceptions, and interests.
  • Evaluate existing methods for a collaborative approach and based on the lessons learned develop a workshop series which will be conducted to discuss the different interests of the stakeholders in Bergen and which will incorporate local and scientific knowledge.
  • Recommend an integrated management strategy to prevent or reduce conflict potential that can be implemented within the existing national management framework for contaminated marine sediments.

Project organisation and Collaboration

The proposed research addresses the call for greater integration between national and international research institutions.

The institutes involved (NIVA, NGI, and TNO) cover a range of expertise including sediment risk assessment, contaminant fate modelling, remediation engineering, environmental monitoring, institutional and environmental economics, as well as political and communication sciences. The international partner in the project, TNO, will particularly strengthen the proposed project with their background in the social sciences and communication specifically addressing sediment related issues.

Additionally, two MSc-students will be engaged by the project. NGI and NIVA have more than a decade's experience in national sediment remediation planning, monitoring and policy analysis, as well as involvement in the Oslo Port case which will be integral in WP1. However, NGI and NIVAs active "expert" role in the Oslo Harbour remediation project may bias information collected from stakeholders sceptical to the project.

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Thus TNO will be mainly responsible for WP1 and provide guidance to the MSc students who will have a central role with data collection in Oslo. WP2 is dependent on data collection with stakeholders in Bergen and thus will be the main responsibility of NIVA, with assistance from TNO and the MSc students involved. NGI will be responsible for coordinating the workshops in WP3 with assistance from all research partners. NIVA will also be mainly responsible for the iterative evaluation of the framework and toolbox produced, with assistance from all research partners.

Project activity schedule

Activity schedule

Legend: R = reports, A = article, G = guidebook

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