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Social site characterisation: from concept to application. A review of relevant social science literature and a toolkit for social site characterisation
Social site characterisation: from concept to application. A review of relevant social science literature and a toolkit for social site characterisation

1st June 2011

Organisation(s): AJW Inc., Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Global CCS Institute

Topic(s): Carbon capture, Public engagement, Social research, Use and storage (CCUS)

Global observation by the scientific community of CCS demonstration projects has permitted a much wider understanding of aspects of CCS more closely aligned to the social sciences (i.e. sociology, anthropology, psychology, communications, and economics). This experience has provided insight, to some degree, into the public’s reaction to CCS and has been instrumental in informing several of the recent guides for designing CCS-related public outreach, communication, and engagement programs. Many guides for public outreach recommend that the developer take the necessary time during project planning to obtain a solid understanding of the concerns and perspectives of a project’s stakeholders. These should, in turn, be used in designing and implementing project deployment.

In many ways, social site characterisation is similar to the common steps of stakeholder identification, mapping, and response however, the term was chosen to resonate with technical experts involved in CCS who are keenly aware of the importance of site characterisation for ensuring the integrity of a CCS project.

Social site characterisation draws its reference from the critical role of geological site characterisation for CCS projects, expanding the concept however, to suggest that in addition to assessing the technical and/or physical characteristics of a site, one should also consider the social – or human – characteristics in selecting and designing projects.

This report begins to examine why and how to conduct social site characterisation for CCS projects. Part 1 reviews a selection of social science literature that could provide insights to CCS project development. Part 2 includes a series of practical Social Site Characterisation activities and workbooks to assist project proponents with the application and implementation of in-depth understanding of the local community. It is recommended to be utilised in conjunction with the Communications and Engagement Toolkit for CCS Projects.

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