Experts and expertise in practices of citizen engagement in climate policy: a comparative analysis of two contrasting cases

Lisette van Beek*, Niek Mouter, Peter Pelzer, Maarten Hajer, Detlef van Vuuren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The need for engaging citizens in climate policymaking is increasingly recognised. Despite indications that the form of expert involvement can strongly influence participatory processes, this remains scarcely researched. We analysed two unique and contrasting cases of citizen engagement in national climate mitigation policy: (1) the Irish Citizens’ Assembly (ICA), the first national climate assembly involving live expert presentations and face-to-face deliberations; and (2) the Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE) on Dutch climate policymaking, where more than 10,000 citizens compared policy options in an online environment based on expert-based information on policy effects. Taking a dramaturgical approach, we found that the opening up and closing down of policy options and perspectives was influenced by the setting, staging and scripting of expertise. Apart from providing information on policy options, experts had significant roles in design choices and formulating recommendations, which shaped citizens’ deliberations and policy advice. In deliberative processes, citizens’ deliberations can be further influenced by putting experts in a privileged spot and emphasising their authority, whereas in the setting of an online tool, experts’ design choices may be masked by the fact-like presentation of expertise. Future research should further investigate the role of experts and expertise across a wider range of practices. Nevertheless, we conclude that the high degree of required technical knowledge in climate mitigation policy naturally implies strong expert involvement, which concomitantly steers the results. Alternatively, we may search to enhance citizens’ engagement in guiding climate policymakers by focusing on citizens’ normative perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Citizen participation
  • Citizens’ assembly
  • Climate policy
  • Expertise
  • Mini-public
  • Participatory Value Evaluation


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