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Science-policy interaction in the governance of complex socioecological risks: The case of chemicals management in the Baltic Sea
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, I examine knowledge production and science-policy interaction associated with the management of chemical substances in the Baltic Sea under conditions of uncertainty and complexity. The thesis is primarily based on a qualitative analysis of policy documents and reports produced by the European Union (EU), the Helsinki Commission, the Swedish Chemicals Agency, and Gothenburg municipality, as well as 30 semi-structured interviews with scientific experts, policy makers, and government officials with knowledge and working experience in the relevant policy arenas.

I identify and examine key challenges of science-policy interaction associated with the management of chemical substances in the Baltic Sea, such as lack of data, uncertainty, and complexity (Article I). I further argue that the current model of science-policy interaction fails to adequately handle and account for these challenges (e.g. uncertainty in Article II).

Scientists and policy makers have made substantial (and sometimes successful) efforts to understand and counteract negative environmental trends in the Baltic Sea. However, on the basis of this empirical analysis, I conclude that the uncertainties tied to the complex chemical risks in the Baltic Sea region are too large and multifaceted to be adequately addressed by the “modern science-policy model” underpinning most contemporary risk assessments. Linked to this analysis, I identify several possible ways to improve the situation, for example new tools and methods for handling uncertainty as well as alternative models for science-policy interaction.

As a consequence, I explore the potential of alternative models of science-policy interaction, giving particular attention to the participatory model and the associated idea of post-normal science. The results highlight the substantial amount of rhetoric in EU sources about recommending wider public involvement in policies, but also reveal that there is a different situation in practice. The introduction of more radical approaches (such as post-normal science) to knowledge co-production and participation would require epistemological, institutional, and constitutional changes that are not feasible in the foreseeable future – at least for the case of chemical substances (Article III).

Improvements (methodological, institutional and so on) in the current modern model of science-policy interaction are just as important as the development of alternative modes of science-policy interaction (Article IV). However, the general conclusion of this thesis is that there is a need to rethink current science-policy interaction and in the process “break through” the widespread institutional denial of irreducible uncertainties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. , 64 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 623
Keyword [en]
Risk, Uncertainty, MSFD, HELCOM, REACH, post-normal science, precautionary, participation
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106583ISBN: 978-91-7519-307-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-106583DiVA: diva2:716837
Public defence
2014-06-04, Temcas, House T, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

This thesis is a part of the Environmental Risk Governance of the Baltic Sea (RISKGOV) project which is an interdisciplinary research project performed in collaboration with Södertörn University College, Sweden; Åbo Akademi University, Finland; DIALOGIK, Germany; and Gdansk University, Poland. The aim of the project is to improve understanding of the structuresand processes that shape the governance of environmental risks, and to suggest a normative framework for improving environmental risk governance in the Baltic Sea.More information is available at www.sh.se/riskgov

Available from: 2014-05-13 Created: 2014-05-13 Last updated: 2014-05-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Governance of Complex Socio-Environmental Risks: The Case of Hazardous Chemicals in the Baltic Sea
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Governance of Complex Socio-Environmental Risks: The Case of Hazardous Chemicals in the Baltic Sea
2011 (English)In: AMBIO, ISSN 0044-7447, Vol. 40, no 2, 144-157 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Complex socio-environmental risks challenge society. In response to scientific uncertainty and socio-political controversies, environmental governance, precaution, and the ecosystem approach to management are held forward as complements to governmental risk-based sector-restricted regulation. We analyze this development for hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea. Based on interviews and policy analysis, we study informal governance and, in particular, four central EU and international policies, and investigate how present governance relates to risks and objectives at hand. While showing emergence of broader governance approaches, we conclude that central objectives will not likely be met. Furthermore, we question the quest for broad environmental governance and emphasize the value of command and control regulation, if it implements precaution. These findings contribute to the theorizing on environmental (risk) governance. Finally, we provide some ideas that could help development and implementation of risk policies for hazardous chemicals in the Baltic Sea as well as other complex risks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 2011
Keyword
Ecosystem approach, HELCOM, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Precaution, REACH, Water Framework Directive
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-66153 (URN)10.1007/s13280-010-0126-0 (DOI)000286933300005 ()
Available from: 2011-03-04 Created: 2011-03-04 Last updated: 2014-05-13
2. Coping with uncertainties in science-based advice informing environmental management of the Baltic Sea
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Coping with uncertainties in science-based advice informing environmental management of the Baltic Sea
2013 (English)In: Environmental Science and Policy, ISSN 1462-9011, E-ISSN 1873-6416, Vol. 29, 12-23 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Managing uncertainty is a main challenge for sustainable management of complex socioecological systems, such as marine ecosystems. Today, a growing number of scientific publications address decision-making practices under conditions of high uncertainty. However, very few studies have analyzed how science treats uncertainty before it reaches decision-makers, especially for various marine environmental issues. less thanbrgreater than less thanbrgreater thanThis study aims to fill these research gaps by identifying the main theoretical approaches to science-based uncertainty management proposed in the scientific literature. Furthermore, by scrutinizing advisory documents, current approaches and methods to assess and treat uncertainty in science-based advice are analyzed and compared for five significant environmental issues in the Baltic Sea (eutrophication, fisheries, invasive species, chemical pollution, and oil spills). Specifically, the study analyzes the types of uncertainties acknowledged, how strategies and practices present and address uncertainties, and whether new theoretical proposals identified in the scientific literature affect existing practices. less thanbrgreater than less thanbrgreater thanThe studys results reveal that current scientific practices do not adequately address uncertainty in advice formulation. First, no common guideline is in use, resulting in significant differences among studied environmental issues and a common lack of structure, clarity, established terminology, and transparency in the assessment and treatment of uncertainty. Furthermore, new theoretical developments connected with uncertainty appraisal (such as theoretical typologies) and new tools and methods for handling uncertainty (such as precautionary and participatory approaches) are hardly utilized in practice in the management of the Baltic ecosystem. Consequently, although theoretical approaches for coping with uncertainty in complex socio-ecological systems are ample, the challenge for the future is to implement these approaches more effectively in assessment and management frameworks. less thanbrgreater than less thanbrgreater thanThe study discusses possible improvements to current practices in environmental management of large-scale socio-ecological systems such as the Baltic Sea and other regional seas, acknowledging that these measures will not reduce all existing uncertainty but rather contribute to a more comprehensive treatment of uncertainties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2013
Keyword
Science-policy, Marine governance, Post-normal science, HELCOM, MSFD
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-94324 (URN)10.1016/j.envsci.2013.01.015 (DOI)000318754900002 ()
Note

Funding Agencies|European Community|217246|Swedish Environmental Protection Agency||Swedish Research Council FORMAS||Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies||

Available from: 2013-06-24 Created: 2013-06-24 Last updated: 2017-12-06
3. Participation and post-normal science in practice?: Reality check for hazardous chemicals management in the European marine environment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Participation and post-normal science in practice?: Reality check for hazardous chemicals management in the European marine environment
2014 (English)In: Futures: The journal of policy, planning and futures studies, ISSN 0016-3287, E-ISSN 1873-6378, Vol. 63, 15-25 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study analyses whether science-policy interactions linked to the management of hazardous chemicals in the European marine environment have developed in accordance with general theories on public involvement in policymaking in general and post-normal science (PNS) in particular. Special attention is given to a comparison between key EU policy frameworks, namely the “polluter-oriented” Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and the “environment-oriented” Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), based on in-depth analysis of key policy-related documents and interviews with scientists and policy actors.

The results outline that in spite of a substantial amount of rhetoric in EU sources about recommending wide and ambitious public involvement, current participation and deliberation practices are rather undeveloped in the studied EU policy frameworks. Furthermore, it can be concluded that the introduction of more radical approaches to knowledge co-production and participation (like PNS) would require epistemological, institutional and constitutional changes that are not feasible in the foreseeable future, at least not in respect to chemicals management.

Thus, this study generates empirical data with regard to the management of chemicals in the European marine environment, specifically data on participation, the role of science, and uncertainty treatment at the science-policy interface. These data provide empirical information that can be used by environmental managers involved in the EU marine policy development. At the same time, the results can be used theoretically to reflect on and problematise the current state of wider public participation in EU environmental policies and PNS development in particular cases.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014
Keyword
Science-policy, risk governance, PNS, MSFD, REACH, marine environment
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106581 (URN)10.1016/j.futures.2014.07.002 (DOI)000343783200002 ()
Available from: 2014-05-13 Created: 2014-05-13 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. Models of science–policy interaction: Exploring approaches to Bisphenol A management in the EU
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Models of science–policy interaction: Exploring approaches to Bisphenol A management in the EU
2014 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 485–486, 23-30 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigated science–policy interaction models and their limitations under conditions of uncertainty. In detail, it looked at the management of the suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). Despite growing evidence that BPA is hazardous to human and environmental health, the level of scientific uncertainty is still high and, as a result, there is significant disagreement on the actual extent and type of risk. Analysis of decision-making processes at different regulatory levels (EU, Sweden, and the Swedish municipality of Gothenburg) exposed chemicals risk management and associated science–policy interaction under uncertainty.

The results of the study show that chemicals management and associated science–policy interaction follow the modern model of science–policy interaction, where science is assumed to ‘speak truth to policy’ and highlights existing limitations of this model under conditions of uncertainty. The study not only explores alternative models (precautionary, consensus, science–policy demarcation. and extended participation) but also shows their limitations. The study concludes that all models come with their particular underlying assumptions, strengths, and limitations. At the same time, by exposing serious limitations of the modern model, the study calls for a rethinking of the relationship between science, policy, and management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014
Keyword
Uncertainty, Precautionary, Participatory, Modern model
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106582 (URN)10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.03.046 (DOI)000337259000003 ()24704953 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2014-05-13 Created: 2014-05-13 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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