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Managing for resource sustainability: the potential of civic science

Managing for resource sustainability: the potential of civic science Discovering a means to reconcile ecological integrity and resource use is an enduring theme in human societies and the central question of sustainable development. This paper examines the philosophical assumptions, the general approaches and the substantive challenges associated with three tactics used to manage natural resources. In this essay, it is argued that civic science is an emerging paradigm to pursue sustainable development and that adaptive co-management is a potential mechanism for implementa- tion. Although civic science is not a panacea, it elucidates and clearly informs the science-policy domain in which resource managers function. Keywords: Civic science, sustainable development, natural resources management, adaptive co-management 1. Introduction Ever since it was popularized, the concept of sustainable development has been the focus of much attention. Is there a way in which a dynamic equilibrium can be struck between humans and other components of the Earth’s natural system? This is a central question to those concerned with resources and integral to the continuing debate regarding sustainability. Although sustainability is frequently presented as being complex in nature and broad in scope, it is succinctly summarized by Nelson and Eidsvik (1990: 66), who write that the concept of [sustainable development] sets a very basic goal—sustainability—and provides a broad umbrella under which we can develop and perhaps agree upon various important principles and practices to be used in striving for the ideal—which seemingly must be envisioned as a process rather than any utopia end state. Particularly interesting in the literature associated with sustainable development is the need for management. In his essay on global ecology, Wolfgang Sachs (1995: 435) distils the Correspondence: H. Ryan Plummer, Department of Tourism and Environment, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Ave., St. Catharines, ON, Canada. Fax: þ1 905 984 4843. E-mail: rplummer@brocku.ca ISSN 1569-3430 print/ISSN 1744-4225 online  2006 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/15693430500424238 6 H. R. Plummer UNED diplomatic message as ‘the world is to be saved by more and better managerialism’. His conclusion ought to be unsurprising. Management, broadly understood as a process by which an entity advances towards a goal, coincides with the description of sustainable development advanced in Our Common Future as ‘a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both the current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations’ (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987: 46). The close connection between resource sustainability and management is particularly evident for those involved in the management of natural resources. The professional practice of natural resource management has progressed considerably as a consequence of the cumulative efforts of those concerned about the availability of resources for the future. In essence, natural-resource management is the process of employing an intervention strategy for presumably beneficial ends. Although the urgency for such intervention has oscillated throughout human history, the basic rationale for management of natural resources has existed for some time. Despite the consistent call for resource conservation, the institutional arrangements through which resource sustainability has been sought have changed considerably. The term ‘institutional arrangements’ refers to ‘. . . (1) legislation and regulation, (2) policies and guidelines, (3) administrative structures, (4) economic and financial arrangements, (5) political structures and processes, (6) historical and traditional customs and values and (7) key participants or actors’ (Mitchell 1989: 245). Institutions are also regarded as ‘rules of the game’ or restrictions placed on resource use (Jentoft et al. 1998: 427). Institutional arrangements encompass the means by which the resource management system functions in an effort to achieve resource sustainability. Institutional arrangements to achieve resource sustainability have stressed the importance of the individual, the state, and cooperation. This paper examines the philosophical assumptions, describes the general approach, and probes the challenges associated with each. Explicitly acknowledging the complexities and uncertainties that characterize the con- temporary situation surrounding resources impels institutional arrangements to develop in new directions. Civic science is put forward in this essay as an emerging philosophical approach to pursue sustainability and adaptive co-management is highlighted as a way forward for implementation. 1.1. Individual The call for intervention regarding resources dates back at least as far as Aristotle, who suggested that ‘what is common to the greatest number gets the least amount of care’ (Baden and Hardin 1977: xi). Coincidentally, herein also lies the early foundations for individualism as Aristotle also suggested that ‘when everyone has his own sphere of interest . . . the amount of interest will increase because each man will feel that he is applying himself to what is his own’ (Baden and Hardin 1977: xi). Founded upon this assumption, an approach based on individualism developed, largely through the formulation and refinement of property rights associated with natural resources. The concept of real property thereby emerged as a claim to a benefit (or) income stream, and a property right is a claim to a benefit stream that some higher body—usually the state—will agree to protect through the assignment of duty to others who may covet, or somehow interfere with, the benefit stream. (Bromley 1992: 4) The potential of civic science 7 The concept of rights is also important. Bromley’s writing is again instructive as he asserts that regimes . . . are human artefacts reflecting instrumental origins, and a property regime is fundamentally instrumental in nature. That is, property regimes take on their special character by virtue of collective perceptions regarding what is scarce (and hence possibly worth protecting with rights), and what is valuable (and hence certainly worth protecting with rights). (Bromley 1992: 4) Hence, the market became a mechanism by which the individual was the ideal means to pursue resource integrity. This approach continued for some time. Baden and Hardin (1977: x) have asserted that ‘for a century or two, the European variant of Homo Sapiens has assumed that the individual is the best judge of his own welfare, and that the aggregate of individual actions produces the optimal collective welfare’. Significant theoretical and pragmatic challenges are identified with this individual approach. Most well known among these is Hardin’s rebuttal to aggregate individualism in his work concerning the ‘tragedy of the commons’. Hardin founded his argument upon William Foster Lloyd’s (1794 – 1852) rebuttal to Adam Smith’s concept of the invisible hand leading to public optimization through individual gains (Hardin 1968). Each individual in a commons, seeking to maximize gains, reaches the conclusion that it is beneficial to expand because costs are shared among all users while benefit is solely to the individual. Since all individuals reach the same conclusion, they become entrenched in a system of expansion in an environment with limitations which brings ruin to all. Discourse on more recent environmental problems has focused more specifically on the failure of markets, particularly of price mechanisms, to actually reflect environmental costs, rendering this avenue theoretically intriguing but problematic under conditions of scarcity and uncertainty (Glasbergen 1998). 1.2. State Another approach is state or government involvement which emerged with the formulation of property rights, as some ‘higher’ order was required to enforce associated regimes. Stemming from the tradition of English common law, states effectively challenged that they had inherited authority over resources such as wildlife during the early 1800s (Gray 1993). Despite this early legal precedent, it was not until the 1970s that the state received an increasing amount of attention. Hardin’s (1968) parable is one example that brought considerable attention for immediate action. He contended that if aggregate of individual actions does not lead to resource sustainability, it follows that some other type of management must occur to avoid resource exhaustion. Ostrom nicely summarizes that ‘the presumption that an external Leviathan is necessary to avoid tragedies of the commons leads to recommendations that central governments control most of the natural resource systems’ (Ostrom 1990: 9). Increasing concern by citizens about environmental issues ignited the eco-revolution of the 1960s. Largely in response to political pressures, government attempted to take action. A regulatory approach has become the hallmark of actions taken by the state or central government. Glasbergen describes that in this approach, new environmental goals are translated into legal rules. Each rule specifies conduct in which people should or should not engage. The rules are formulated in terms of 8 H. R. Plummer prescriptions (what one must do) or proscriptions (what one must not do). If people do not follow the rules, they face negative sanctions. (Glasbergen 1998: 4) The regulatory approach has experienced some successes (e.g. pollution) and considerable challenges. The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), for example, documented environmental decline and the accompanying regulatory response by govern- ments throughout the 1970s. While some industrialized countries experienced enhanced environmental quality through regulatory measures, such achievements were limited and not reflective of the experience elsewhere in the world (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). Ostrom (1990) questions central authority’s ability to gain comprehen- sive information, address associated costs (monitoring/enforcement), and apply correct sanctions. Glasbergen (1998) synthesizes the challenges associated with a regulatory approach to include: the requisite for external force and presumption of a manageable society; its reactionary nature; the ability to reconcile growth and environmental concerns; and the ability to function in advanced stages of environmental policy development. 1.3. Cooperative approaches Unlike the other approaches which stressed the role of the individual and the state, cooperative approaches tend to focus on both community and cooperation, generally representing a shift towards subsidiarity. Cooperative regimes are envisioned as complemen- tary to environmental regulation and policy (Glasbergen 1998). The emphasis on community and cooperation is by no means new, as there is a long history of societies communally managing resources. Theoretical assumptions upon which cooperative approaches are predicated have been advanced by those exploring institutional choice theory. Theoretical contentions sharply depart from the perspective of individual rationality associated with the previous two approaches (Symes 1997, Jentoft et al. 1998). Individual rationality is viewed as an inferior strategy because all actions are embedded in a social context, and it is through these relational elements that a means to achieve resource sustainability is provided (Klooster 2000, Rudd 2000). Meadowcroft (1998: 21) captures the context in which this approach is posited in recent patterns of governance which are characterized by government withdrawal and increasing involvement by citizens. Governments in more than 60 countries have divested, to varying degrees, their responsibilities for resource management (Edmunds and Wollenberg 2001, Ribot 2002). The outcome of this devolution has been an increase in local involvement as well as an emphasis on governments working with local resource users to share the responsibilities associated with managing natural resources; an approach known as co-management (Berkes et al. 1991). Plummer and FitzGibbon (2004) assert that the co-management approach is characterized by pluralism, communication and negotiation, transactive decision-making, social learning, and shared commitment by those involved. They continue to describe the process by which this approach to resource management functions through the mechanism of collaboration. Many challenges are associated with the cooperative approach. Meadowcroft (1998) cautions that existing agencies and actors may retain power, cooperative agreements may be formed undemocratically, and such management may be contrary to the existing political culture. Jentoft (2000) observes that cooperative management is often cumbersome; with representation and corresponding equity as central considerations, one ought not to have unreal expectations (Driessen 1998, Castro and Nielsen 2001). The potential of civic science 9 2. Contemporary context The contemporary context of resource management is being shaped by an important series of developments. At the root of this development is the confluence of systems theory, holism, and ecology. Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller (2000: 5) explain that the interest for ecosystems comprehended as complex systems forms an holistic viewpoint, meaning that the whole system is more than the sum of its parts because it is providing emergent properties, has increased enormously during the last couple of decades due to our concern for the environment. Contained in this brief quotation are substantive issues of paramount importance. The first is the idea of an ecosystem as a structural and functional unit. A. G. Tansley, the first to use the concept, wrote that . . . it is the system so formed which, from the point of view of the ecologist, are the basic units of nature on the face of the Earth. These ecosystems, as we may call them, are of various kinds and sizes. They form one category of the multitudinous physical systems of the universe, which range from the universe as a whole down to the atom. (as cited in Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller 2000: 7) Berkes and Folke (1998: 8) further explain that ‘the systems approach broadly refers to a holistic view of the components and the interrelationships among the components of a system’. The holistic viewpoint essentially asserts that all things are connected, and the systems approach encourages consideration of both the linkages among the components as well as preponderance of the entire system. The most vexing part of this intense interest in ecosystems is their complex and emergent nature. Holling et al. (2002a) set the foundation for complex resource systems by critiquing four views of nature (flat, balanced, anarchic, resilient) and developing a view of nature as evolutionary and adaptive. This view is distinguished by the adaptive cycle and the nested set of cycles (panarchies) at increasingly larger scales which in concert constitute a systems view in which people and nature are linked or coupled (Berkes and Folke 2002, Holling and Gunderson 2002, Holling et al. 2002b). Berkes (2004: 622) further explains that ‘a complex and adaptive system often has a number of attributes not observed in simple systems, including nonlinearity, uncertainty, emergence, scale, and self-organization’. Response of the system to perturbations further underscores irreversibility and leads to an increasing appreciation for uncertainty and discontinualities (Berkes and Folke 1998, Breckling and Dong 2000, Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller 2000). Commentary regarding the ramifications of these developments on the approaches to resource management is beginning to emerge. Much of this discourse has involved assessing the merits and limitations of reductionism (considering the component parts) as compared with holism (considering the entire system). Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller (2000) contend that approaches predicated upon reductionism are problematic in light of ecosystem considera- tions because they fail to adequately account for functionality of the system, have limited utility in understanding complex structures, and ultimately account for the effect of changes. Yet there is a more fundamental issue with the course of instrumental rationality which underlies the scientific method. Cortner (2000: 25) here is especially insightful in observing that instrumental rationality ‘. . . is utilitarian, focusing on the most efficacious means to achieve given ends. Little importance is attached to the larger question of whether the ends 10 H. R. Plummer themselves are reasonable’. This becomes manifest in a logic which is bound to narrowly limited technical questions, excludes non-quantifiable information (subjective) and non- expert opinion (citizen), and omits larger questions of values (e.g. ecological integrity, equity) (Cortner 2000). 3. Pursuing sustainability through civic science and adaptive co-management Radical change in institutional arrangements is required in response to the current situation described above. Cortner (2000) argues that this must occur at the most basic level. She writes that ‘at a minimum, changes in the institution of science include: embracing more holistic and integrated scientific approaches, creating a more civic science, and rethinking the role of scientific advocacy in the policy process’ (Cortner 2000: 26). Within the domain of natural- resources management, the effective incorporation of holism and integrated science is increasingly urgent in light of the systems perspective, ecosystem complexity, and uncertainty (Berkes and Folke 1998, Cortner 2000, Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller 2000). A holistic and integrated science perspective is imperative because it: directs attention to larger and more complex systems consistent with an ecosystem approach; is inclusive of natural and social sciences; welcomes multiple forms of knowledge; and is cognizant of the society science nexus (Cortner 2000). Civic science provides a philosophical approach to pursue sustainability. So what is civic science, and how does it provide innovative direction to advance institutional arrangements towards resource sustainability? Civic science was conceptualized by Lee in 1993 as a means to connect natural science and politics in the pursuit of sustainability. Lee (1993) explains that the theoretical basis of civic science is scientific experimentation and reformist politics. Although this theoretical amalgam may initially appear untenable, he astutely recognizes that ‘. . . without experimentation reliable knowledge accumulates slowly, and without reliable knowledge there can be neither social learning nor sustainable development’ (Lee 1993: 54). Relying upon science, in the traditional experimental sense, to conduct such experimentation and engaging civil society (e.g. non-governmental organizations, public agencies, citizens) endues civic science with reformist characteristics. A decade later, Ba ¨ ckstrand (2003) reinforces the importance of broadening the sphere of those engaged in the creation and utilization of scientific knowledge. Lee (1993) continues to flush out the nuances of this approach. He identifies that civic science is radically vulnerable because it must persist for long periods and endure human conflicts, must make multiple appraisals of equity, and ought to promote technical efficiencies. Civic science advances progress towards resource sustainability because it enhances, in Nelson and Eidsvik’s words, ‘the principles and practices to be used in striving for the ideal’ (Nelson and Eidsvik 1990: 66). Challenges identified with the three institutional arrangements in the initial part of this paper combined with recent developments in the contemporary context make clear the timeliness and current opportunity for a civic science approach. Ba ¨ ckstrand (2003) succinctly articulates that a move towards civic science is justified to restore public confidence in science, appropriately dealing with complexity that characterizes the environmental domain, and institute democratic ideals in science. Lee (1993) utilizes a thought-provoking analogy of a compass and a gyroscope as requisites to resource sustainability to describe the actual practice of civic science. The compass represents adaptive management through which the process of feedback learning occurs so that humans may better understand their relationship with the natural world. The gyroscope, a device which spins while revealing true course, represents the task of bounded conflict. These two devices culminate in a civic science approach, which combines science and politics through the process of social learning. The potential of civic science 11 Although Lee’s (1993) analogy appears somewhat abstract, evidence of a civic science approach is increasingly evident in practice. Explicit incorporation of civic science has been fruitfully examined in relation to environmental policy (Cortner 2000), environmental governance (Ba ¨ ckstrand 2003), and environmental impact assessments (Cashmore 2004). Although not explicitly pursued under the banner of civic science, arguments in natural resource management reflect similar shifts. Berkes and Folke (1998), in their commentary on neo-traditional resource management, argue that ecological systems theory needs to be reconciled with social science area of institutions and property. Central to their reasoning is the need to consider humans as part of ecosystems; linking ecological and social systems results in greater responsiveness to environmental feedback and ultimately sustainability. More recently, Berkes (2004: 622) asserts that . . . the science of ecology seems to be in the midst of three conceptual shifts: a shift from reductionism to a systems view of the world, a shift to include humans in the ecosystem, and a shift from expert-based approach to participatory conservation and management. His thought-provoking commentary on these shifts leads Berkes (2004) towards an ‘interdisciplinary conservation’ which is largely advanced through the practice of adaptive co-management. Adaptive co-management is a mechanism to implement civic science and offers innovation to the practice of resource management. Berkes (2004) differentiates adaptive co- management from conceptualizations of co-management because the latter often fails to capture the complex cross-scale interactions and dynamic learning nature of the process. According to Olsson, Folke, and Berkes, ‘adaptive comanagement systems are flexible community-based systems of resource management tailored to specific places and situations and supported by, and working with, various organizations at different levels’ (Berkes 2004: 75). Adaptive co-management is also ‘a process by which institutional arrangements and ecological knowledge are tested and revised in a dynamic, ongoing, self-organized process of trial-and-error’ (Folke et al. 2002: 8). As a way to implement civic science, the means by which adaptive co-management occurs is of paramount importance. Berkes (2004) observes that the emergence of adaptive co-management is indeed a delicate issue as evidence suggests that such systems may emerge from self-organization, while in other situations favourable measures such as legislation may facilitate their development. The potential for adaptive co-management to excel under the current situation is favourable, as it potentially increases the robustness of social-ecological systems and emphasizes learning and policy adaptation by managers, thereby lessening the risk of pursuing unsustainable trajectories (Olsson et al. 2004). While experience with adaptive co- management is nascent, it builds upon the previous approaches outlined in this paper and is highly consistent with the direction of civic science as a means to pursue resource sustainability as it emphasizes pluralism, experimentation, multiple knowledge systems, and social learning. In sum, adaptive co-management ‘. . . creates an ‘‘adaptive dance’’ between resilience and change with the potential to sustain complex social-ecological systems’ (Olsson et al. 2004: 87). The central thrust of this essay was to identify the potential of civic science as an emerging paradigm for sustainable development and identify adaptive co-management as a mechanism for implementation. Ba ¨ ckstrand (2003) recognizes that the civic science approach faces diverse theoretical (e.g. institutional, normative, epistemological) challenges. Civic science brings different challenges to resource managers, as ‘in civic science there is no set formula for a collaborative learning approach, and no standard protocols for understanding the needs, 12 H. R. Plummer interests, and values of participants’ (Cortner 2000: 27). Lee (1993: 201) maps out the greatest test to realizing the potential of civic science: What we have are science and democracy, the compass and gyroscope that are the heritage of the Columbian odyssey. What we need still is a sense of the patience of Earth. A century after Columbus sailed, Francis Bacon called for humankind to understand nature in order to subdue nature. The message of sustainability is that we must acknowledge the pace and scale of nature’s teaching. That will not be an easy message to grasp or to heed, but it is perhaps the central test of whether we shall turn out be a species with the determination to cultivate a world in which we can live together. Civic science is not a panacea to managing for resource sustainability. Rather, civic science provides a means to conceptualize the science – policy nexus at which resource managers operate and an instrument to move towards sustainability. Acknowledgements Appreciation is extended to the managing editor and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Gratitude is expressed to David Telfer for his feedback on this essay. References Ba ¨ ckstrand K. 2003. Civic science for sustainability: reframing the role of experts, policy-makers and citizens in environmental governance. Global Environ Polit 3(4):24 – 41. Baden J, Hardin G. 1977. Preface: The evolution of cultural norms. In: Hardin G, Baden J (eds). Managing the commons. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, pp ix – xii. Berkes F. 2004. Rethinking community-based conservation. Conserv Biol 18(3):621 – 630. Berkes F, Folke C. 1998. Linking social and ecological systems for resilience and sustainability. In: Berkes F, Folke C (eds). Linking social and ecological systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 1 – 27. Berkes F, Folke. 2002. Back to the future: ecosystem dynamics and local knowledge. In: Gunderson LH, Holling CS (eds). Parnarchy. Washington, DC: Island Press, pp. 121 – 146. Berkes F, George J, Preston RJ. 1991. The evolution of theory and practice of the joint administration of living resources. Alternatives 18(2):12 – 18. Breckling B, Dong Q. 2000. Uncertainty in ecology and ecological modeling. In: Jørgensen SE, Mu ¨ ller F (eds). Handbook of ecosystem theories and management. London: Lewis Press, pp 51 – 75. Bromley DW. 1992. Making the commons work. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies. Cashmore M. 2004. The role of science in environmental impact assessment: process and procedure versus purpose in the development of theory. Environ Impact Assess Rev 24(4):403 – 426. Castro A, Nielsen E. 2001. Indigenous people and co-management: implications for conflict management. Environ Sci Policy 4:229 – 239. Cortner HJ. 2000. Making science relevant to environmental policy. Environ Sci Policy 3:21 – 30. Driessen P. 1998. Concluding remarks: The scope of co-operative management. In: Glasbergen P (ed). Co-operative Environmental Governance. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic, pp 251 – 269. Edmunds D, Wollenberg E. 2001. Historical perspectives on forest policy change in Asia. Environ Hist 6:190 – 212. Folke C, Carpenter S, Elmqvist T, Gunderson L, Holling CS, Walker B, Bengtsson J, Berkes F, Colding J, Danell K, Falkenmark M, Gordon L, Kasperson R, Kautsky N, Kinzig A, Levin S, Maler K, Moberg F, Ohlsson L, Olsson P, Ostrom E, Reid W, Rockstrom J, Svenije H, Svendin U. 2002. Resilience and sustainable development: building adaptive capacity in a world of transformations [Scientific Background Paper for the Process of The World Summit on Sustainable Development]. Available: http://www.resalliance.org/ev_en.php?ID¼1237_ 201andID2¼DO_TOPIC Accessed 20 July 2005. Glasbergen P. 1998. The question of environmental governance. In: Glasbergen P (ed). Co-operative environmental governance. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic, pp 1 – 20. Gray GG. 1993. Wildlife and people. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Hardin G. 1968. The tragedy of the commons. Science 162:1243 – 1248. The potential of civic science 13 Holling CS, Gunderson LH. 2002. Resilience and adaptive cycles. In: Gunderson LH, Holling CS (eds). Panarchy. Washington, DC: Island Press, pp 25 – 62. Holling CS, Gunderson LH, Ludwig D. 2002a. Quest of a theory of adaptive change. In: Gunderson LH, Holling CS (eds). Panarchy. Washington, DC: Island Press, pp 3 – 24. Holling CS, Gunderson LH, Peterson GD. 2002b. Sustainability and panarchies. In: Gunderson LH, Holling CS (eds). Panarchy. Washington, DC: Island Press, pp 63 – 102. Jentoft S. 2000. Legitimacy and disappointment in fisheries management. Marine Policy 24:141 – 148. Jentoft S, McCay BJ, Wilson DC. 1998. Social theory and fisheries co-management. Marine Policy 22:141 – 148. Jørgensen SE, Mu ¨ ller F. 2000. Ecosystems as complex systems. In: Jørgensen SE, Mu ¨ ller F (eds). Handbook of ecosystem theories and management. London: Lewis Press, pp 5 – 21. Klooster D. 2000. Institutional choice, community and struggle: a case study of forest co-management in Mexico. World Development 28(1):1 – 20. Lee KI. 1993. Compass and gyroscope. Washington, DC: Island Press. Meadowcroft J. 1998. Co-operative management regimes: a way forward. In: Glasbergen P (ed). Co-operative environmental governance. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic, pp 21 – 42. Mitchell B. 1989. Geography and resource analysis, 2nd ed. Harlow, UK: Longman. Nelson JG, Eidsvik HE. 1990. Sustainable development, conservation strategies and heritage. Alternatives 16(4):62 – 71. Olsson P, Folke C, Berkes F. 2004. Adaptive co-management for building ecological resilience in social-ecological systems. Environ Manage 34(1):75 – 90. Ostrom E. 1990. Governing the commons: the evolution of institutions for collective actions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Plummer R, FitzGibbon J. 2004. Co-management of natural resources: a proposed framework. Environ Manage 33(6):876 – 885. Ribot JC. 2002. Democratic decentralization of natural resources. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. Rudd MA. 2000. Live long and prosper: collective action, social capital and social vision. Ecol Econ 34(234): 131 – 144. Sachs W. 1995. Global ecology and the shadow of ‘development’. In: Sachs W (ed). Global Economy. Halifax, NS: Fernwood, pp 3 – 25. Symes J. 1997. Public involvement and environmental planning in Western Australia. J Architect Plann Res 4(4):310 – 321. World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our common future. 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Managing for resource sustainability: the potential of civic science

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Abstract

Discovering a means to reconcile ecological integrity and resource use is an enduring theme in human societies and the central question of sustainable development. This paper examines the philosophical assumptions, the general approaches and the substantive challenges associated with three tactics used to manage natural resources. In this essay, it is argued that civic science is an emerging paradigm to pursue sustainable development and that adaptive co-management is a potential mechanism for implementa- tion. Although civic science is not a panacea, it elucidates and clearly informs the science-policy domain in which resource managers function. Keywords: Civic science, sustainable development, natural resources management, adaptive co-management 1. Introduction Ever since it was popularized, the concept of sustainable development has been the focus of much attention. Is there a way in which a dynamic equilibrium can be struck between humans and other components of the Earth’s natural system? This is a central question to those concerned with resources and integral to the continuing debate regarding sustainability. Although sustainability is frequently presented as being complex in nature and broad in scope, it is succinctly summarized by Nelson and Eidsvik (1990: 66), who write that the concept of [sustainable development] sets a very basic goal—sustainability—and provides a broad umbrella under which we can develop and perhaps agree upon various important principles and practices to be used in striving for the ideal—which seemingly must be envisioned as a process rather than any utopia end state. Particularly interesting in the literature associated with sustainable development is the need for management. In his essay on global ecology, Wolfgang Sachs (1995: 435) distils the Correspondence: H. Ryan Plummer, Department of Tourism and Environment, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Ave., St. Catharines, ON, Canada. Fax: þ1 905 984 4843. E-mail: rplummer@brocku.ca ISSN 1569-3430 print/ISSN 1744-4225 online  2006 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/15693430500424238 6 H. R. Plummer UNED diplomatic message as ‘the world is to be saved by more and better managerialism’. His conclusion ought to be unsurprising. Management, broadly understood as a process by which an entity advances towards a goal, coincides with the description of sustainable development advanced in Our Common Future as ‘a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both the current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations’ (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987: 46). The close connection between resource sustainability and management is particularly evident for those involved in the management of natural resources. The professional practice of natural resource management has progressed considerably as a consequence of the cumulative efforts of those concerned about the availability of resources for the future. In essence, natural-resource management is the process of employing an intervention strategy for presumably beneficial ends. Although the urgency for such intervention has oscillated throughout human history, the basic rationale for management of natural resources has existed for some time. Despite the consistent call for resource conservation, the institutional arrangements through which resource sustainability has been sought have changed considerably. The term ‘institutional arrangements’ refers to ‘. . . (1) legislation and regulation, (2) policies and guidelines, (3) administrative structures, (4) economic and financial arrangements, (5) political structures and processes, (6) historical and traditional customs and values and (7) key participants or actors’ (Mitchell 1989: 245). Institutions are also regarded as ‘rules of the game’ or restrictions placed on resource use (Jentoft et al. 1998: 427). Institutional arrangements encompass the means by which the resource management system functions in an effort to achieve resource sustainability. Institutional arrangements to achieve resource sustainability have stressed the importance of the individual, the state, and cooperation. This paper examines the philosophical assumptions, describes the general approach, and probes the challenges associated with each. Explicitly acknowledging the complexities and uncertainties that characterize the con- temporary situation surrounding resources impels institutional arrangements to develop in new directions. Civic science is put forward in this essay as an emerging philosophical approach to pursue sustainability and adaptive co-management is highlighted as a way forward for implementation. 1.1. Individual The call for intervention regarding resources dates back at least as far as Aristotle, who suggested that ‘what is common to the greatest number gets the least amount of care’ (Baden and Hardin 1977: xi). Coincidentally, herein also lies the early foundations for individualism as Aristotle also suggested that ‘when everyone has his own sphere of interest . . . the amount of interest will increase because each man will feel that he is applying himself to what is his own’ (Baden and Hardin 1977: xi). Founded upon this assumption, an approach based on individualism developed, largely through the formulation and refinement of property rights associated with natural resources. The concept of real property thereby emerged as a claim to a benefit (or) income stream, and a property right is a claim to a benefit stream that some higher body—usually the state—will agree to protect through the assignment of duty to others who may covet, or somehow interfere with, the benefit stream. (Bromley 1992: 4) The potential of civic science 7 The concept of rights is also important. Bromley’s writing is again instructive as he asserts that regimes . . . are human artefacts reflecting instrumental origins, and a property regime is fundamentally instrumental in nature. That is, property regimes take on their special character by virtue of collective perceptions regarding what is scarce (and hence possibly worth protecting with rights), and what is valuable (and hence certainly worth protecting with rights). (Bromley 1992: 4) Hence, the market became a mechanism by which the individual was the ideal means to pursue resource integrity. This approach continued for some time. Baden and Hardin (1977: x) have asserted that ‘for a century or two, the European variant of Homo Sapiens has assumed that the individual is the best judge of his own welfare, and that the aggregate of individual actions produces the optimal collective welfare’. Significant theoretical and pragmatic challenges are identified with this individual approach. Most well known among these is Hardin’s rebuttal to aggregate individualism in his work concerning the ‘tragedy of the commons’. Hardin founded his argument upon William Foster Lloyd’s (1794 – 1852) rebuttal to Adam Smith’s concept of the invisible hand leading to public optimization through individual gains (Hardin 1968). Each individual in a commons, seeking to maximize gains, reaches the conclusion that it is beneficial to expand because costs are shared among all users while benefit is solely to the individual. Since all individuals reach the same conclusion, they become entrenched in a system of expansion in an environment with limitations which brings ruin to all. Discourse on more recent environmental problems has focused more specifically on the failure of markets, particularly of price mechanisms, to actually reflect environmental costs, rendering this avenue theoretically intriguing but problematic under conditions of scarcity and uncertainty (Glasbergen 1998). 1.2. State Another approach is state or government involvement which emerged with the formulation of property rights, as some ‘higher’ order was required to enforce associated regimes. Stemming from the tradition of English common law, states effectively challenged that they had inherited authority over resources such as wildlife during the early 1800s (Gray 1993). Despite this early legal precedent, it was not until the 1970s that the state received an increasing amount of attention. Hardin’s (1968) parable is one example that brought considerable attention for immediate action. He contended that if aggregate of individual actions does not lead to resource sustainability, it follows that some other type of management must occur to avoid resource exhaustion. Ostrom nicely summarizes that ‘the presumption that an external Leviathan is necessary to avoid tragedies of the commons leads to recommendations that central governments control most of the natural resource systems’ (Ostrom 1990: 9). Increasing concern by citizens about environmental issues ignited the eco-revolution of the 1960s. Largely in response to political pressures, government attempted to take action. A regulatory approach has become the hallmark of actions taken by the state or central government. Glasbergen describes that in this approach, new environmental goals are translated into legal rules. Each rule specifies conduct in which people should or should not engage. The rules are formulated in terms of 8 H. R. Plummer prescriptions (what one must do) or proscriptions (what one must not do). If people do not follow the rules, they face negative sanctions. (Glasbergen 1998: 4) The regulatory approach has experienced some successes (e.g. pollution) and considerable challenges. The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), for example, documented environmental decline and the accompanying regulatory response by govern- ments throughout the 1970s. While some industrialized countries experienced enhanced environmental quality through regulatory measures, such achievements were limited and not reflective of the experience elsewhere in the world (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). Ostrom (1990) questions central authority’s ability to gain comprehen- sive information, address associated costs (monitoring/enforcement), and apply correct sanctions. Glasbergen (1998) synthesizes the challenges associated with a regulatory approach to include: the requisite for external force and presumption of a manageable society; its reactionary nature; the ability to reconcile growth and environmental concerns; and the ability to function in advanced stages of environmental policy development. 1.3. Cooperative approaches Unlike the other approaches which stressed the role of the individual and the state, cooperative approaches tend to focus on both community and cooperation, generally representing a shift towards subsidiarity. Cooperative regimes are envisioned as complemen- tary to environmental regulation and policy (Glasbergen 1998). The emphasis on community and cooperation is by no means new, as there is a long history of societies communally managing resources. Theoretical assumptions upon which cooperative approaches are predicated have been advanced by those exploring institutional choice theory. Theoretical contentions sharply depart from the perspective of individual rationality associated with the previous two approaches (Symes 1997, Jentoft et al. 1998). Individual rationality is viewed as an inferior strategy because all actions are embedded in a social context, and it is through these relational elements that a means to achieve resource sustainability is provided (Klooster 2000, Rudd 2000). Meadowcroft (1998: 21) captures the context in which this approach is posited in recent patterns of governance which are characterized by government withdrawal and increasing involvement by citizens. Governments in more than 60 countries have divested, to varying degrees, their responsibilities for resource management (Edmunds and Wollenberg 2001, Ribot 2002). The outcome of this devolution has been an increase in local involvement as well as an emphasis on governments working with local resource users to share the responsibilities associated with managing natural resources; an approach known as co-management (Berkes et al. 1991). Plummer and FitzGibbon (2004) assert that the co-management approach is characterized by pluralism, communication and negotiation, transactive decision-making, social learning, and shared commitment by those involved. They continue to describe the process by which this approach to resource management functions through the mechanism of collaboration. Many challenges are associated with the cooperative approach. Meadowcroft (1998) cautions that existing agencies and actors may retain power, cooperative agreements may be formed undemocratically, and such management may be contrary to the existing political culture. Jentoft (2000) observes that cooperative management is often cumbersome; with representation and corresponding equity as central considerations, one ought not to have unreal expectations (Driessen 1998, Castro and Nielsen 2001). The potential of civic science 9 2. Contemporary context The contemporary context of resource management is being shaped by an important series of developments. At the root of this development is the confluence of systems theory, holism, and ecology. Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller (2000: 5) explain that the interest for ecosystems comprehended as complex systems forms an holistic viewpoint, meaning that the whole system is more than the sum of its parts because it is providing emergent properties, has increased enormously during the last couple of decades due to our concern for the environment. Contained in this brief quotation are substantive issues of paramount importance. The first is the idea of an ecosystem as a structural and functional unit. A. G. Tansley, the first to use the concept, wrote that . . . it is the system so formed which, from the point of view of the ecologist, are the basic units of nature on the face of the Earth. These ecosystems, as we may call them, are of various kinds and sizes. They form one category of the multitudinous physical systems of the universe, which range from the universe as a whole down to the atom. (as cited in Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller 2000: 7) Berkes and Folke (1998: 8) further explain that ‘the systems approach broadly refers to a holistic view of the components and the interrelationships among the components of a system’. The holistic viewpoint essentially asserts that all things are connected, and the systems approach encourages consideration of both the linkages among the components as well as preponderance of the entire system. The most vexing part of this intense interest in ecosystems is their complex and emergent nature. Holling et al. (2002a) set the foundation for complex resource systems by critiquing four views of nature (flat, balanced, anarchic, resilient) and developing a view of nature as evolutionary and adaptive. This view is distinguished by the adaptive cycle and the nested set of cycles (panarchies) at increasingly larger scales which in concert constitute a systems view in which people and nature are linked or coupled (Berkes and Folke 2002, Holling and Gunderson 2002, Holling et al. 2002b). Berkes (2004: 622) further explains that ‘a complex and adaptive system often has a number of attributes not observed in simple systems, including nonlinearity, uncertainty, emergence, scale, and self-organization’. Response of the system to perturbations further underscores irreversibility and leads to an increasing appreciation for uncertainty and discontinualities (Berkes and Folke 1998, Breckling and Dong 2000, Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller 2000). Commentary regarding the ramifications of these developments on the approaches to resource management is beginning to emerge. Much of this discourse has involved assessing the merits and limitations of reductionism (considering the component parts) as compared with holism (considering the entire system). Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller (2000) contend that approaches predicated upon reductionism are problematic in light of ecosystem considera- tions because they fail to adequately account for functionality of the system, have limited utility in understanding complex structures, and ultimately account for the effect of changes. Yet there is a more fundamental issue with the course of instrumental rationality which underlies the scientific method. Cortner (2000: 25) here is especially insightful in observing that instrumental rationality ‘. . . is utilitarian, focusing on the most efficacious means to achieve given ends. Little importance is attached to the larger question of whether the ends 10 H. R. Plummer themselves are reasonable’. This becomes manifest in a logic which is bound to narrowly limited technical questions, excludes non-quantifiable information (subjective) and non- expert opinion (citizen), and omits larger questions of values (e.g. ecological integrity, equity) (Cortner 2000). 3. Pursuing sustainability through civic science and adaptive co-management Radical change in institutional arrangements is required in response to the current situation described above. Cortner (2000) argues that this must occur at the most basic level. She writes that ‘at a minimum, changes in the institution of science include: embracing more holistic and integrated scientific approaches, creating a more civic science, and rethinking the role of scientific advocacy in the policy process’ (Cortner 2000: 26). Within the domain of natural- resources management, the effective incorporation of holism and integrated science is increasingly urgent in light of the systems perspective, ecosystem complexity, and uncertainty (Berkes and Folke 1998, Cortner 2000, Jørgensen and Mu ¨ ller 2000). A holistic and integrated science perspective is imperative because it: directs attention to larger and more complex systems consistent with an ecosystem approach; is inclusive of natural and social sciences; welcomes multiple forms of knowledge; and is cognizant of the society science nexus (Cortner 2000). Civic science provides a philosophical approach to pursue sustainability. So what is civic science, and how does it provide innovative direction to advance institutional arrangements towards resource sustainability? Civic science was conceptualized by Lee in 1993 as a means to connect natural science and politics in the pursuit of sustainability. Lee (1993) explains that the theoretical basis of civic science is scientific experimentation and reformist politics. Although this theoretical amalgam may initially appear untenable, he astutely recognizes that ‘. . . without experimentation reliable knowledge accumulates slowly, and without reliable knowledge there can be neither social learning nor sustainable development’ (Lee 1993: 54). Relying upon science, in the traditional experimental sense, to conduct such experimentation and engaging civil society (e.g. non-governmental organizations, public agencies, citizens) endues civic science with reformist characteristics. A decade later, Ba ¨ ckstrand (2003) reinforces the importance of broadening the sphere of those engaged in the creation and utilization of scientific knowledge. Lee (1993) continues to flush out the nuances of this approach. He identifies that civic science is radically vulnerable because it must persist for long periods and endure human conflicts, must make multiple appraisals of equity, and ought to promote technical efficiencies. Civic science advances progress towards resource sustainability because it enhances, in Nelson and Eidsvik’s words, ‘the principles and practices to be used in striving for the ideal’ (Nelson and Eidsvik 1990: 66). Challenges identified with the three institutional arrangements in the initial part of this paper combined with recent developments in the contemporary context make clear the timeliness and current opportunity for a civic science approach. Ba ¨ ckstrand (2003) succinctly articulates that a move towards civic science is justified to restore public confidence in science, appropriately dealing with complexity that characterizes the environmental domain, and institute democratic ideals in science. Lee (1993) utilizes a thought-provoking analogy of a compass and a gyroscope as requisites to resource sustainability to describe the actual practice of civic science. The compass represents adaptive management through which the process of feedback learning occurs so that humans may better understand their relationship with the natural world. The gyroscope, a device which spins while revealing true course, represents the task of bounded conflict. These two devices culminate in a civic science approach, which combines science and politics through the process of social learning. The potential of civic science 11 Although Lee’s (1993) analogy appears somewhat abstract, evidence of a civic science approach is increasingly evident in practice. Explicit incorporation of civic science has been fruitfully examined in relation to environmental policy (Cortner 2000), environmental governance (Ba ¨ ckstrand 2003), and environmental impact assessments (Cashmore 2004). Although not explicitly pursued under the banner of civic science, arguments in natural resource management reflect similar shifts. Berkes and Folke (1998), in their commentary on neo-traditional resource management, argue that ecological systems theory needs to be reconciled with social science area of institutions and property. Central to their reasoning is the need to consider humans as part of ecosystems; linking ecological and social systems results in greater responsiveness to environmental feedback and ultimately sustainability. More recently, Berkes (2004: 622) asserts that . . . the science of ecology seems to be in the midst of three conceptual shifts: a shift from reductionism to a systems view of the world, a shift to include humans in the ecosystem, and a shift from expert-based approach to participatory conservation and management. His thought-provoking commentary on these shifts leads Berkes (2004) towards an ‘interdisciplinary conservation’ which is largely advanced through the practice of adaptive co-management. Adaptive co-management is a mechanism to implement civic science and offers innovation to the practice of resource management. Berkes (2004) differentiates adaptive co- management from conceptualizations of co-management because the latter often fails to capture the complex cross-scale interactions and dynamic learning nature of the process. According to Olsson, Folke, and Berkes, ‘adaptive comanagement systems are flexible community-based systems of resource management tailored to specific places and situations and supported by, and working with, various organizations at different levels’ (Berkes 2004: 75). Adaptive co-management is also ‘a process by which institutional arrangements and ecological knowledge are tested and revised in a dynamic, ongoing, self-organized process of trial-and-error’ (Folke et al. 2002: 8). As a way to implement civic science, the means by which adaptive co-management occurs is of paramount importance. Berkes (2004) observes that the emergence of adaptive co-management is indeed a delicate issue as evidence suggests that such systems may emerge from self-organization, while in other situations favourable measures such as legislation may facilitate their development. The potential for adaptive co-management to excel under the current situation is favourable, as it potentially increases the robustness of social-ecological systems and emphasizes learning and policy adaptation by managers, thereby lessening the risk of pursuing unsustainable trajectories (Olsson et al. 2004). While experience with adaptive co- management is nascent, it builds upon the previous approaches outlined in this paper and is highly consistent with the direction of civic science as a means to pursue resource sustainability as it emphasizes pluralism, experimentation, multiple knowledge systems, and social learning. In sum, adaptive co-management ‘. . . creates an ‘‘adaptive dance’’ between resilience and change with the potential to sustain complex social-ecological systems’ (Olsson et al. 2004: 87). The central thrust of this essay was to identify the potential of civic science as an emerging paradigm for sustainable development and identify adaptive co-management as a mechanism for implementation. Ba ¨ ckstrand (2003) recognizes that the civic science approach faces diverse theoretical (e.g. institutional, normative, epistemological) challenges. Civic science brings different challenges to resource managers, as ‘in civic science there is no set formula for a collaborative learning approach, and no standard protocols for understanding the needs, 12 H. R. Plummer interests, and values of participants’ (Cortner 2000: 27). Lee (1993: 201) maps out the greatest test to realizing the potential of civic science: What we have are science and democracy, the compass and gyroscope that are the heritage of the Columbian odyssey. What we need still is a sense of the patience of Earth. A century after Columbus sailed, Francis Bacon called for humankind to understand nature in order to subdue nature. The message of sustainability is that we must acknowledge the pace and scale of nature’s teaching. That will not be an easy message to grasp or to heed, but it is perhaps the central test of whether we shall turn out be a species with the determination to cultivate a world in which we can live together. 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Journal

Environmental SciencesTaylor & Francis

Published: Mar 1, 2006

Keywords: Civic science; sustainable development; natural resources management; adaptiveco-management

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