Exploring a 'post-normal' science-policy interface for integrated coastal management : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Governance at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis is broadly about mobilising knowledge for the governance of the coast and specifically about the introduction of a ‘post-normal’ science-policy interface to Integrated Coastal Management. It begins by acknowledging the unique resource management challenges of the coast and follows the field of Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) as a widely endorsed framework for addressing these challenges. Contemporary developments in this field have seen ICM recognise the uncertainty, plurality and high political stakes characterising many issues on the coast and the attendant need to shift from models of ‘management’ to models of ‘governance.’ This thesis specifically engages debates on the epistemological implications of governance, which within ICM have led to calls to democratise the science-policy interface according to norms of dialogue, inclusiveness, integration and quality. Taking this as its point of departure, this thesis explores the ‘post-normal science’ perspective offered by Funtowicz and Ravetz, as a way of framing the science-policy interface.
This research began by viewing the complexity of coastal management through the particular lens offered by the model of ‘interactive governance,’ as a compelling perspective on ICM that is gaining credence. Interactive governance focuses on certain features of coastal management, and introduces certain measures of ‘quality,’ which were formulated into a novel evaluation framework for ICM. The research went on to explore how a ‘post-normal science’ approach may contribute to ‘high quality’ ICM, framed according to interactive governance. This occurred first via a literature review, and second through cross-scale empirical research. Internationally, the research followed the SPICOSA Project, as a Europe-wide focus on the science-policy interface for coastal management. Nationally, the research explored New Zealand’s coastal management framework, mapping the emergence of new ‘norms of governance’ within the science-policy interface and their contribution to quality institutions, before interrogating three local-scale initiatives that gave effect to a post-normal science approach; in Whangamata, Waikaraka and Gisborne.
This research arrived at three key findings on the meaningfulness of a post-normal science-policy interface. First, that there are many ways to give effect to this approach, contingent on scale and context. Second, that this approach has significant potential for promoting high quality ICM according to measures of institutional quality and stakeholder interactional quality. And third, that the most significant threat to this approach is power; most notably the power of science to subsume other knowledge systems.