Use Social Partnerships to Accelerate Policy Mainstreaming: By Adopting Participatory Governance Innovation



Current Challenges

The key to participatory governance is the principle of inclusiveness, focusing on improving people's willingness to participate and enhancing their background knowledge on relevant issues, creating the impetus for the public to proactively participate in decision-making, as well as the integration of cross-ministerial departments and the innovation of participatory mechanisms, in order to overcome at the most fundamental level the path dependency that humans have over-relied on in our technological and economic development, in our regulatory and policy mechanisms, as well as in our attitudes and habitual behaviors in our daily lives. Taiwan currently faces the following challenges in participatory governance innovation:


1. The Necessity of Improving Energy Literacy Among the Public

  • While our survey showed that the Taiwanese public are concerned about Taiwan's energy transition, they nonetheless do not have an adequate understanding of Taiwan's main electricity generation method and energy policies, which thereby demonstrates the necessity for the improvement of energy literacy and awareness among the general public.


2. The Limited Effectiveness of Current Participation Mechanisms

  • The government believes that the lack of energy literacy lies in the inadequate disclosure and diffusion of information, and has therefore proposed organizing more face-to-face and online energy courses in the second phase of its Energy Transition White Paper. However, our center's survey showed that close to 60% of the Taiwanese public are unwilling to participate in such activities, which therefore suggests that activities currently planned for would have limited effectiveness in reaching out to the general public.


3. The Lack of Social Learning Mechanisms

  • There is a general lack of trust towards the completeness and information openness of the civil participation mechanism outlined under Taiwan's energy transition, while the public also shows a lack of willingness to participate in events, which therefore results in a need for the government to create a social learning path and guidance over the longer term, and through the promotion and the continuous accumulation of experience and energy, can then be used to respond to Taiwan's energy transition.


4. The Lack of Inter-Ministerial Integration

  • Taiwan's current promotion of energy transition-related policies is still largely dependent on political will to drive it. As such, other than grassroots initiatives, it is still important for higher ups in government to receive information and assistance, which thus makes inter-ministerial integration an important component of participatory governance innovation.


Proposed Action Plans

In order to develop an environment conducive for good participatory governance, it is necessary to strengthen the channels for participation on the one hand, while strengthening the administrative capacity on the other, so as to be able to effectively consolidate the information and suggestions received from various participatory channels, and translate them into policy proposals. In addition to the horizontal integration of ministries, it is also necessary to build vertical channels to involve public participation, such as in enhancing the public's energy literacy and their willingness to participate. In summary, the following five measures are core to implementing participatory governance innovation:


1. Promote the Mainstreaming of Energy Transition

  • The key to promoting energy transition lies in having the Premier of the Executive Yuan take the lead in transformation policy, by working with the various ministries and local governments, to comprehensively consider climate change and energy transition issues in the planning, implementation and assessment of policies, so that the public sector can adjust its needs in terms of its talent cultivation, audit and supervisory mechanism, and legal systems, to promote transformation in a holistic manner.


2. Establish a Clear System of Transition Governance

  • Energy transition involves climate governance innovation, which should be elevated to the level of the cabinet, by consolidating the climate actions at national-level ministries and local governments, to establish a clear governance system and organizational transformation, and to also establish an independent climate change or climate policy committee via legislation which could provide policy recommendations and oversight on climate-related issues.


3. Deepen Energy Literacy

  • Members of the public and stakeholders have limited access to information and participation, and also lack basic knowledge, resulting in them having difficulty locating relevant information, or having to only engage in passive participation at the end. There should therefore be greater access to information on energy transition, and targeted approaches to raising awareness on energy issues, by identifying the appropriate channels to outreach to the various target groups.


4. Enhance Social Legitimacy and Participation

  • The government should establish participatory mechanisms on which other ministries can adopt, in order to ensure that social opinions are fed back into policy making. Inviting citizen participation before policy decisions are made would also enhance their social acceptance and reduce the resistance to policy implementation, as well as strengthen the legitimacy of policy decisions.


5. Establish a Think Tank on Transitional Issues

  • In order to address the four aforementioned recommendations, it is necessary to establish an independent research system at a university or within society, to provide independent reviews and analyses, and produce critical knowledge and information, which on the one hand can be used to redress government policies, and on the other hand transfer knowledge to the general public, as well as encourage interactive and participatory learning, and develop consensus on energy transition, so as to generate social learning curves for the government, society, industry and media.