Science in Sustainability: A Theoretical Framework for Understanding the Science-Policy Interface in Sustainable Water Resource Management

By Edward Alexander Morgan.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Attempts to create sustainable water resource management (WRM) face substantial challenges from population growth, expanding urbanisation, environmental degradation, and anthropogenic climate change. Science can provide vital knowledge and understanding to help create sustainable policy outcomes. However, the interactions between science and policy can be problematic, limiting the ability of science to contribute to sustainability. There needs to be better understanding of how science is used within WRM in order to identify the most effective uses of science. This paper will present an emerging theoretical framework for analysing how and why science is used within policy. This work considers that scientific knowledge and understanding are used widely within the policy networks of WRM, not just where scientists and policymakers meet, and hence that there is not one science–policy interface but many. To help better understand these interfaces, the framework is developed from concepts in the water governance and science-policy interface literature combined with the recognition that science is complex and evolving. The framework presented here will provide a tool to better understand the role of science within sustainable WRM by analysing the factors that might affect the use of science by stakeholders.

Keywords: Science–Policy Interface, Governance, Natural Resource Management

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.37-54. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 693.015KB).

Edward Alexander Morgan

PhD Student, Urban Research Program, Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Edward Morgan is a PhD candidate studying the role science can play in sustainability. His research interests lie in the interactions between science and policy, and the use of science in society more widely. His current PhD research is studying how and why science is used in policy, with a focus on water resource management, in order to better understand the role science can play in contributing to sustainable outcomes. Coming from a background in environmental chemistry, he is interested in how scientific knowledge can cross boundaries within and, more importantly, beyond the scientific community, and how this can help in the search for sustainability.