RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017

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238 The role of expert knowledge in socio-environmental policy and decision making (2)
Affiliation Planning and Environment Research Group
Convenor(s) Iain Cross (St Mary's University, UK)
Alina Congreve (Climate KIC)
Sophie Elsmore (London South Bank University, UK)
Mark Addis (St Mary's University, UK)
Chair(s) Alina Congreve (Climate KIC)
Mark Addis (St Mary's University, UK)
Timetable Thursday 31 August 2017, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Session abstract A number of significant challenges face socio-environmental policy makers and decision makers, such as housing availability and affordability, flood risk, sustainable economic development and climate change. In the context of Brexit and a continued focus on economic austerity, policy making continues to take place within complex and uncertain environments. In such climates, therefore, it is essential to understand the role of expert knowledge in shaping socio-environmental policies. Rarely is expert knowledge used in a linear way to inform policy decisions, as policy makers mediate amongst competing tensions and interests of stakeholders. But rather, expert knowledge can indirectly influence policy debates through ‘conditioning’ wider debates to inform and enlighten discussion, or can be selectively promoted support existing policies. The context of these uses of knowledge may not always be within formalised structures, and the role of informal ‘shadow’ networks and influential ‘policy entrepreneurs’ are increasingly recognised as flexible spaces in which policy innovations may occur. Indeed, the ‘tacit knowledge’, acquired through education, training and experience, plays an important role in shaping policy formulation and driving socio-environmental innovation. In this context, it is therefore important to question and consider how expert knowledge is created and deployed. This session seeks to understand the role of the ‘expert’ in the formation and implementation of socio-environmental policies. In a post-Brexit, post-truth world, we welcome papers that address how expert knowledge is formulated and appropriated to tackle complex socio-environmental problems, at all spatial scales and across multiple sectors, including construction and housing, flood risk management, ecosystem services and spatial planning.
Linked Sessions The role of expert knowledge in socio-environmental policy and decision making (1)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
The potential of citizen science to inform expert understanding: a case study of an urban river in London
Iain Cross (St Mary's University, UK)
Rob Gray (Friends of the River Crane Environment)
Joe Pecorelli (Zoological Society of London, UK)
Richard Haine (Frog Environmental, UK)
Increasingly, expert knowledge is becoming only one of many sources of understanding that influence environmental decision making and policy formulation. Traditional, top-down and technocratic modes of knowledge production are being challenged and, through what has been termed the ‘participatory turn’, knowledge is often co-produced among ‘experts’ and ‘non-experts’. A particularly widespread source of ‘non-expert’ knowledge is the citizen science (CS) community. CS projects can enable data to be collected over spatial or temporal scales that would be prohibitively expensive or logistically impossible for ‘expert’ data collection techniques. Whilst this data might be highly useful for policy and decision making, there can be a tension between the perceived reliability, accuracy or value of CS data compared to ‘scientifically collected’ data. This paper explores this tension in the context of an urban river CS project in London, through interviews with ‘experts’ and ‘non-experts’ from a variety of stakeholders. It highlights how significant events affecting the river environment mobilised public interest and the subsequent generation of ‘non-expert’ knowledge of the river. The paper provides an insight into how the perceived credibility and value of CS data by ‘experts’ can evolve over time, to become a significant driver of decision making. Key factors that have shaped this process include formal reporting mechanisms, partnerships with local authorities and statutory bodies, and corroboration of CS data with ‘expert’ data. The paper argues that CS blurs the traditional boundary between experts and non-experts and therefore challenges traditional definitions of ‘expert’ knowledge in environmental decision making.
The role of expert knowledge in decision making on climate change: insights from two case studies
Candice Howarth (CECAN, University of Surrey, UK)
The non-linear, multi-sector characteristics of the relationship between the energy-food-water nexus and the climate mean climate related decision-making is subject to complexity, uncertainty and risk. Climate mitigation and adaptation measures often occur at different levels leading to confusion on who the expert is and who has responsibility to inform decision making. Some actors are not fully acknowledged in these processes contributing to a gap between the needs for climate action and delivery on the ground. This presentation will demonstrate how a knowledge co-production approach could help identify opportunities for building more effective, sustainable, inclusive and legitimate decision-making processes around climate change drawing on different expert contributions. This would enable more resilient responses to climate risks while increasing transparency, communication and trust among key actors. This presentation will provide insights from two case studies: (i) a project exploring the role of practitioners in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), and (ii) the Nexus Shocks project which explores the role of coproducing effective decision-making in response to climate and weather related shocks. By drawing on results from interviews and workshops with UK academics, practitioners and local decision makers, I will explore how critical reflection is needed on how to shape global and local responses to climate change by assessing lessons learnt and best practice from cross-stakeholder and cross-sectorial engagement.
Expert and Experiential Knowledge in Pollinator Policy: The Perspectives of Beekeepers
Siobhan Maderson (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Recent policy initiatives aim to counter the precipitous decline of pollinators, and thus secure their role in food security and broader ecosystem services. The practical experiences and observations of beekeepers are recognised as having the potential to both monitor, and improve, the wellbeing of pollinators As part of wider trends towards participatory governance, many initiatives notably stress the importance of engaging with beekeepers, as well as scientists, and other stakeholders whose study or practice holds the potential to improve environmental conditions that impact pollinator wellbeing. However, such multi-stakeholder engagement still prioritises ‘experts’, and struggles to adequately incorporate knowledge which contradict wider policies. This paper will discuss the perceptions of beekeepers on the relative influence and use of ‘expert’ and ‘experiential’ knowledge in pollinator policy-making. Unlike the expert scientific knowledge relied upon by policy-makers as central to EBPM, beekeepers’ understanding of bee health engages with systemic factors that are often hard to quantify or prove according to conventional scientific criteria. Beekeepers’ views result from long-term observation and engagement with specific local environments. Beekeepers are also a disparate community, holding contrary views on land use, agriculture, and the best means of ensuring pollinator wellbeing. My current PhD research focuses on interviews with long-term beekeepers whose tacit expertise is widely recognised throughout diverse beekeeping communities. I address the knowledges appropriated, and sidelined, in current pollinator policy, and how experiential knowledge is utilised by experts. I also address the challenges resulting from beekeepers’ tacit knowledge contrasting with current agricultural, land use, and economic policies.
Expert knowledge and local responses to climate change in the Czech Republic
Slavomíra Ferenčuhová (Masaryk University, Czech Republic)
This paper shall focus on the session’s main themes by presenting first results of the commencing research project on local (policy) responses to climate change in the Czech Republic, and on factors shaping these responses. In particular, it shall debate the capacity of expert knowledge on climate change, especially scientific opinions and/or facts, to influence policy responses developed on the local level. It will search to clarify some aspects of the socio-cultural context of the post-socialist Czech society that influence the process of communicating and sharing knowledge between experts, policy makers, and the general public. First, based on an analysis of the printed media published between 1990 and 2016 in the Czech Republic, the paper shall point out how expert knowledge on climate change has been presented to the public during this extended period, and how presentations/coverage of such knowledge have been changing in time. Also, it will map the various discursive frames in presentations of the expert knowledge (as relevant, debatable, alarming, etc.) that respond to the, often heated, political debates on the issue. Media presentations are believed to reflect, but also shape, public perception of expert knowledge on climate change. Therefore, their study should allow better understanding of the wider cultural context, in which this knowledge is being communicated, adopted or challenged. Second, the paper shall focus on experts’ own perspective on their in/capacity to communicate professional knowledge to political actors, especially on the local level. Using in-depth interviews with several experts on climate change research and related issues, the paper shall follow strategies they create to share their knowledge, their attitudes and contacts with actors on the local level, and their perception of obstacles, as well as of possibilities to influence local practices or policy responses to climate change.
WITHDRAWN BY AUTHOR - Between public management and private companies: circuits of the knowledge about slum upgrading and socio-environmental policies in São Paulo (Brazil)
Magaly Marques Pulhez (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Luciana Ferrara (Federal University of ABC, Brazil)
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EU road vehicle emissions and the spatial politics of expertise: From black-box to the open road?
James Palmer (University of Oxford, UK)
A number of significant challenges face socio-environmental policy makers and decision makers, such as housing availability and affordability, flood risk, sustainable economic development and climate change. In the context of Brexit and a continued focus on economic austerity, policy making continues to take place within complex and uncertain environments. In such climates, therefore, it is essential to understand the role of expert knowledge in shaping socio-environmental policies. Rarely is expert knowledge used in a linear way to inform policy decisions, as policy makers mediate amongst competing tensions and interests of stakeholders. But rather, expert knowledge can indirectly influence policy debates through ‘conditioning’ wider debates to inform and enlighten discussion, or can be selectively promoted support existing policies (‘political’ use; Dunlop, 2014; Weiss, 1979). The context of these uses of knowledge may not always be within formalised structures, and the role of informal ‘shadow’ networks and influential ‘policy entrepreneurs’ are increasingly recognised as flexible spaces in which policy innovations may occur (Meijerink and Huitema 2010). Indeed, the ‘tacit knowledge’, acquired through education, training and experience, plays an important role in shaping policy formulation and driving socio-environmental innovation. In this context, it is therefore important to question and consider how expert knowledge is created and deployed.

This session seeks to understand the role of the ‘expert’ in the formation and implementation of socio-environmental policies. In a post-Brexit, post-truth world, we welcome papers that address how expert knowledge is formulated and appropriated to tackle complex socio-environmental problems, at all spatial scales and across multiple sectors, including construction and housing, flood risk management, ecosystem services and spatial planning.