By Jens Newig
Many agree that participation and collaboration is relevant, if not indispensable, for environmentally sustainable governance outcomes. Others maintain that public government is best equipped to effectively address environmental problems. In our new paper from the ‘EDGE’ project we try to move the debate forward by looking precisely at the causal mechanisms through which participatory and collaborative forms of governance may improve (or deteriorate) environmental outcomes of public decision-making processes.
The paper is rather analytical in that we disentangle:
- different dimensions of participation: Who participates? What decision-making power is delegated to participants? How do participants communicate and interact?
- different dimensions of outcomes: Outputs on paper (plans, agreements, policies, etc.) versus the support of outputs and their actual implementation
- the different mechanisms through which participation and collaboration likely work towards (or against) environmental outcomes,
- different contextual factors such as the capacity of stakeholders, problem complexity or the degree of conflict (we call these ‘conditioning variables’).
This analytical ‘disentangling’, we believe, helps us to identify trade-offs: For example, a collaborative process involving local resource users may lead to a conservation plan with less environmental aspiration as envisaged by a nature-protection agency (because local users do not strictly favour conservation). But at the same time, this plan may be more accepted by local communities and better implementable.
This figure shows an overview of the causal mechanisms we identified, organised in five thematic clusters. Plus signs (+) denote reinforcing relationships, minus signs (–) denote weakening relationships. For example, the top left arrow combines mechanisms M I.1a (positive influence of “opening up” on representation of environmental concerns) and M I.1b (negative influence).
We hope that this framework of causal mechanisms will futher stimulate debate on the functions of participation, and ultimately be useful for guiding empirical research. To this end, we will draw on this framework to organise our empirical findings from the EDGE case survey meta analysis.
You can find the paper, which is published Open Access in the Policy Studies Journal (early view), here:
Newig, J. / Challies, E. / Jager, N.W. / Kochskaemper, E. / Adzersen, A. (2017). The Environmental Performance of Participatory and Collaborative Governance: A Framework of Causal Mechanisms. Policy Studies Journal (early view).
As part of the GOVERNECT project, we are advertising a three-year post-doc position (full-time, pay scale TV-L E 13).
The full job ad can be downloaded here.
Deadline for applications is May 1st, 2017.
By Jens Newig
In recent years, more and more research has been pointing to the importance of distant connections of natural and social processes for issues of global unsustainability. Land-use scientist have labelled this phenomenon, which might entail global commodity chains, migration, or the spread of diseases, “telecoupling”. While there have been substantive advances in describing the flows and the associated implications for environmental sustainability, we know little about how to govern such telecoupled global linkages.
Our new project, which is jointly led by Andrea Lenschow from Osnabrück University, Edward Challies and myself, will investigate how state, private and non-governmental actors have sought to govern the (un)sustainability implications of telecoupling in the past; what (polycentric) policy-networks have emerged in doing so; and, together with key state and non-state actors we will map out scenarios for more effectivley governing global telecoupling for environmental sustainability.
We’ve already published two papers on this (see below), which seek to contribute to a conceptual framework.
For deepening conceptual work and conducting empirical case studies, we will be employing two full-time post-docs for three years. The job ad can be downloaded here.
Funding: German Research Foundation.
> More information on the project GOVERNECT.
Challies, E., Newig, J., & Lenschow, A. (2014). What role for social-ecological systems research in governing global teleconnections?. Global Environmental Change : Human and Policy Dimensions, 27, 32-40. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.04.015
Lenschow, A., Newig, J., & Challies, E. (2016). Globalization’s limits to the environmental state? Integrating telecoupling into global environmental governance. Environmental Politics, 25(1), 136-159. doi:10.1080/09644016.2015.1074384. [Free Open Access Content]
Leuphana’s Center for the Study of Democracy has been awarded a major grant for funding a total of 14 PhD scholars. The first 7 scholarships are advertised now.
The doctoral program investigates how the new political, economic, ecological, and cultural challenges (‘stress factors’) that modern democracies encounter are perceived, dealt with, and solved in view of the existing tension between political legitimacy and restricted performance. It will further look into the implications that different modes of problem-handling have for the ‘survival chances’ of democracy. This twofold research agenda will be analyzed in three fields of study that represent the core functions of democracies: participation, representation, and inclusion.
The first field of study is concerned with how citizens in democratic societies perceive current societal – e.g. environmental or sustainability-related – challenges in light of increasing ’emancipative’ value orientations and how these perceptions are translated into political behaviour (participatory democracy).
In the framework of the second field of study, the representative capacity of political intermediary organizations as well as political institutions within and outside the nation state will be analyzed (representative democracy).
By means of selected policy fields (e. g. environmental, climate, science and media policy) the third field of study looks into the issue of how new forms of political participation interact with traditional institutions, actors, and processes of representative democracy (inclusive democracy).
Deadline for submission of applications is 12 June, 2016.
For more information, please see http://www.leuphana.de/en/research-centers/zdemo-english/doctoral-program-democracy-under-stress.html
By Jens Newig
A couple of days ago, I received the report of a symposium I was invited to earlier this year. The symposium, held in May at the Stockholm Environment Institute, was about “Environmental Governance in an Increasingly Complex World: An Interdisciplinary Exchange on Adaptation, Collaborative Learning and Knowledge Integration”, gathering some 25 researchers and practitioners (You can access the website here, and the report here).
Learning and knowledge integration were the key issues discussed by speakers like Ryan Plummer (adaptive co-management), Bernd Siebenhüner (transdisciplinarity), Arjen Wals (social learning in education), Stephen Elstub (deliberation) and myself (governance learning). There certainly was a lot of interesting detail from empirical and conceptual studies. One key insight, however, emerged more implicitly: There seemed a remarkable consensus in the whole group that more learning – either through participation, co-management, or transdisciplinary interaction – would benefit sustainability and environmental governance. To quote from the report, knowledge integration and learning were even seen as “a necessary precondition for transformative change toward more sustainable futures”.
I certainly agree that without learning no major leap forward can be achieved – whether this concerns sustainability or not. I just have this slight unease with the high level of consensus on the issue. Are we still asking the right questions? Are we as reasearchers still learning (sic!) enough when studying learning? Going against the grain, a couple of contributions appeared to indeed question the dominant focus on standard models of learning. Arjen Wals, for example, brought forward the idea of un-learning. While this is not new as such, I believe it would be worth discussing more thoroughly in this community. (In the Leverage Points project – WP 2 “Re-Structure” – we will focus on related topics of de-institutionalisation for the benefit of sustainability). Perhaps it is as important to study what kind of (unsustainable) beliefs, convictions, practices, institutions we need to do away with, as it is essential to examine what new things we need to learn.