Improving knowledge exchange between scientists & decision-makers to facilitate the adaptive governance of coral dominated marin

Ecological goods and services are critical for human welfare, however, the sustainable management of these resources has been a topic of continued concern. Conventional scientific approaches to resource management based on linear causality have proven ineffective, largely neglecting the complexity and uncertainty associated with complex socio-ecological systems. One emergent framework that is believed to be capable of dealing with the uncertainty associated with complex socio-ecological systems is that of adaptive governance, a concept derived from institutional theory that focuses on the evolution of formal and informal institutional arrangements for the management of shared assets, such as a set of environmental assets that provide ecosystems services. Specifically, adaptive governance refers to society’s capacity to understand and respond to environmental and social feedback in the context of change and uncertainty, to sustain and enhance the resistance and resilience of desirable ecosystems. As such, adaptive governance involves the capacity to 1) understand environmental change, 2) use this information to inform decision making, 3) act on decisions in a manner that sustains the resistance and resilience of desirable ecosystem states and 4) review and adapt decisions as new information becomes available. A critical factor underpinning the success of adaptive governance, therefore, is the generation and sharing of new information, as well as the capacity of management organisations to learn from new information. To date this has proven a significant challenge. Here, using coral dominated marine protected areas as a case study, I undertake a quantitative analysis of the barriers preventing the integration of primary science into the decision-making process, and in doing so identify options for overcoming these barriers to facilitate the adaptive governance of natural resources.

About the speaker
Chris has a background in coral reef ecology, however, after several years working for the Australian Government Department of Environment developed an interest in the relationship between science and decision-making. This led Chris to accept a position in CSIROs Climate Adaptation Flagship as a Knowledge Broker, where he worked at the interface of science and decision-making, facilitating the uptake of Flagship research by working with end-users such as government agencies, non-government organisations, resource management groups and community groups, and enabling them to make better use of climate science. Through this role Chris gained extensive firsthand experience and knowledge regarding the challenges associated with knowledge exchange. Drawing on his personal experience and insights, Chris designed his thesis to overcome the barriers he perceived as most significant so as to improve knowledge exchange between scientists and decision-makers.

Short title for tweet: knowledge exchange between scientists & decision-makers