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Participation and post-normal science in practice?: Reality check for hazardous chemicals management in the European marine environment
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Water and Environmental Studies, Linköping University.
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8536-373X
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. 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 development of EU marine policy. 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
2014. Vol. 63, 15-25 p.
Keyword [en]
Marine environment, MSFD, PNS, REACH, Risk governance, Science-policy
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-24619DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2014.07.002ISI: 000343783200002ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84906490872Local ID: 1748/42/2008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-24619DiVA: diva2:748513
Projects
Environmental Risk Governance of the Baltic Sea (RISKGOV)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 1748/42/2008EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, 217246FormasSwedish Environmental Protection Agency
Available from: 2014-09-19 Created: 2014-09-19 Last updated: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Science-policy interaction in the governance of complex socio-ecological risks: The case of chemicals management in the Baltic Sea
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Science-policy interaction in the governance of complex socio-ecological risks: The case of chemicals management in the Baltic Sea
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
Risk, Uncertainty, MSFD, HELCOM, REACH, post-normal science, precautionary, participation
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-24620 (URN)1748/42/2008 (Local ID)978-91-7519-307-6 (ISBN)1748/42/2008 (Archive number)1748/42/2008 (OAI)
Public defence
2014-06-04, Temcas, House T, Campus Valla, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Environmental Risk Governance of the Baltic Sea (RISKGOV)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 1748/42/2008EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, 217246FormasSwedish Environmental Protection Agency
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: 2014-09-19 Created: 2014-09-19 Last updated: 2014-09-22Bibliographically approved

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