This edition, interviewed David Frank, Policy Advisor for Power Grids and Low Carbon Policy at Germanwatch, on the topic of the recently developed Argumentation Map. The map aims to provide a comprehensive and orderly overview of the debate as possible, in order to unlock the debate and bring stakeholders into contact with opposing views. This particular map is only relevant for the German context, but its positive effects suggest it could be reproduced for other national contexts. The below interview gives an insight into the 'whats', the 'hows' and the 'whys'.
1) What was the reasoning that led you to the development of the Argumentation Map?
The public debate on the conversion and expansion of the transmission grid is deadlocked. The Argumentation Map is an attempt to provide as complete an overview of the debates as possible. It is thus a building block for opening up the deadlocked dialogue between different actors, showing how the positions of the stakeholders relate to each other, where the main points of contention lie and where possible compromises could lie.
2) How did you build the Map up and how did you approach stakeholders? What were the reactions?
The map is the result of a multitude of stakeholder dialogues which took place under the Germanwatch/RGI project, ‘Shaping the Grid Debate’. These include citizens' initiatives, NGOs, politicians, transmission system operators, etc. The dialogues carried out under the project, which use and feed into the map are very constructive: On the one hand, stakeholders’ respective positions are acknowledged, as many arguments are presented transparently. On the other hand, the map is an open document and different stakeholders are happy to be able to add further arguments and to react to counter-arguments.
3) How is the Map used in the field?
In physical meetings I lay a printed version of the map out on the table, in digital meetings I share my screen with the map on it. Since it is structured in topic clusters, it’s possible to clarify in advance which area should be discussed. After that, we can discuss the individual arguments and their pros and cons.
4) What problems does it address/what benefits does it bring for your work? (e.g. how are conversations with stakeholders now different to before?)
The map illustrates the complexity of the debate and thus also the different levels of debate. This means that stakeholders must also engage with and comment on counter-arguments, which they might otherwise ignore, since the same arguments are often repeated in the public debate. It also makes it possible to see what really drives stakeholders in the debate, and it promotes an understanding of other positions.
In case of further questions on the Argumentation Map, get in touch with David Frank, Germanwatch at firstname.lastname@example.org