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Power/knowledge and natural resource management: Foucaultian foundations in the analysis of adaptive governance

In this paper, we present a conceptual framework extending Foucaultian insights on the relations between power and knowledge to link up with current insights into studies of natural resource management (NRM) and more broadly environmental studies. We classify discourses in NRM according to understandings of social–ecological systems and argue that grasping those larger contexts can push NRM in a different direction, forming a base for more informed and inclusive decision-making. We then reconstruct the importance of materiality, the physical world, for the functioning of NRM within social–ecological systems. The concept of livelihoods is added to our developing Foucaultian frame, as material/discursive entwinements which structure responses of many stakeholders in NRM. Finally, we present an expansion of Foucaultian NRM into adaptive governance thinking as a logical outcome of basic insights into power/knowledge, developed and contextualized in current NRM and its critical analyses. Download: here

Landscape governance, environmental policy, spatial planning and place branding

Place branding strategies are increasingly used to promote cities, regions and national parks. In this paper we analyse the evolution of landscape governance in three Flemish regions to discern the virtues of these place branding strategies in relation to other forms of environmental policy and spatial planning. In all three regions state led policies and comprehensive planning efforts were gradually complemented and replaced by more participatory planning approaches and place branding strategies that use the landscape as a frame for coordinating land use activities and development. The study shows that place branding strategies can be a useful addition to other policy instruments and strategies. A focus on place identity and value creation can help in reconciling the various environmental, social, and economic interests. The study also shows that policies, plans and place brands that are developed outside a political context that is experienced as legitimate and inclusive by the different stakeholders are more difficult to implement and might in the long run undermine landscape governance.

Download the paper via Researchgate or Academia

Witchcraft, oracle, and magic in the kingdom of planning: A reflection on planning theory and practice

“This paper offers a response to a claim in Planning Theory that “there is no planning—only planning practices“.

“When a highly esteemed colleague as Prof Alexander looks back at his distinguished career and observes a stockpile of problems in the planning discipline, to the extent that both planning and planning theory seem to lose their unity and validity (Alexander, 2016), there is ample reason to listen”.

What exactly then is the problem? Is planning facing a deep crisis, and might it be on the verge of vanishing, as philosophy has left us, as the novel has been declared dead, together with God? Well, for many, God, philosophy and the novel are very much alive, and the proclamations of existential threat are usually marks of a transitional stage, not the end. Even the boogeyman of neo- liberalism did not kill planning, nor did the competition with other expert groups. What seems at stake here is the soul of planning in a very modernist understanding of the field; a field where modernist philosophies lingered on much longer than in neighboring disciplines and fields (Van Assche et al.,2014).

What, indeed, looks highly unlikely at the moment is a degree of cohesion in theory and practice which can only exist in a modernist phantasy of planners assisting governments to optimize spatial organization in a scientific, that is, unambiguous manner. In this myth the plan is endowed with magical powers of coordination, leading to its own implementation, and where power/knowledge dynamics suddenly stops after the planner enters the room.

This enduring bewitching by modernism one can easily discern in planning theory and praxis. One can see it in the continuous confusion of analytic and normative statements within and beyond academia, in the general lack of reflection on normativity, in the overly high expectations of theory, as somehow able to tell practitioners what to do. It is present in the courses on planning ethics, which pretend to know what correct behavior is, without even trying to engage with the variety of ethical theories. The witchcraft is at work among the adepts of collaborative planning, where many still expect to find a magical formula which reveals the ultimate balance between participation and representation, in procedures enabling the perfectability of space and society…..”

The full article can be downloaded here

Small-scale fisheries within maritime spatial planning

The coasts hold great potential for ‘Blue Growth’, and major industrial and infrastructural developments are already happening there. Such growth, however, comes with risks to marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Competition for space and resources intensifies, turning the coast into an area of social and political conflict, including contestation about knowledge. This paper argues that there is a need for institutional innovation that allows knowledge integration and conflict resolution to be more interactive and synergistic. The paper critically analyses discourses and practices of interactive governance and co-management while visiting Foucault’s power/knowledge concept for investigating the normativity and effects of participation discourses and practices. This is followed by a discussion of multiple governance paths and their different combinations of resources and forms of expert and local social and ecological knowledge so as to see how they can help resolve conflicts, and enhance governability within maritime spatial planning (MSP) in a way that also serves to create a level playing field for all stakeholders. A particular focus will be on the small-scale fisheries sector, which is the lest powerful stakeholder and the most vulnerable to external pressures. Will MSP help to empower or further marginalize small-scale fishers and fisheries communities?

Jentoft, S. (2017). Small-scale fisheries within maritime spatial planning: knowledge integration and power. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 1-13.

A community survival guide to turbulent times

BoomBust1

IN PLANNING has published a new book by Kristof Van Assche et al, a community survival guide to turbulent times. The book presents a wide range of planning strategies communities can use to deal with uncertain futures and to adapt to ever changing boom and bust cycles in the local economy. The book offers an interesting read for planning and governance scholars, students, and professionals, as well as all those who are in some way involved in community development and planning. It describes the struggles that many communities in western Canada are going to, the challenges they face, and many enlightening examples. Furthermore it offers theoretical reflections on the diversity of strategies and practices, as well as practical recommendation on how to develop context-sensitive strategies.

And the best thing: the e-book is freely available.

 

The choice of conservation measures for Natura 2000 sites

Natura 2000 (N2K) is a European network of protected areas that has grown out of the implementation of the Birds Directive (1979) and the Habitats Directive (1992). To date, the literature focussing on “conservation measures” required by the directives has been scarce. This article contributes to a better understanding of associated practices with regard to these measures in the case of France.

This paper puts forward a quantitative approach based on 1378 “action-sheets” randomly extracted from 113 management documents of French Natura 2000 coastal sites. These action-sheets are considered to be the physical embodiment of the notion of the conservation measure itself. The analysis concentrates on the “type” of the proposed measures, expressed in terms of a 9-category public policy instrument typology.

In terms of frequency of quotation, the paper shows the specific expected importance of three instruments: the work of Natura 2000 project managers, ecological/civil engineering, and data production. Awareness-raising is the main expected means to the end of countering harmful practices and detrimental behaviours.

The paper then proposes an exploratory analysis of contextual variables explaining the choice of the type of measure, with an AIC-based procedure of model selection and averaging. The interest of this approach is exemplified by a focus on five explanatory variables reflecting the kind of natural habitats concerned by the measures.

The results show the specificity of instruments associated with coastal habitats. In particular, whereas coastal terrestrial habitats are statistically managed by physical measures (physical regulation and engineering), methods for managing coastal marine habitats are geared towards, on the one hand, awareness raising and participatory approaches, and on the other, regulatory approaches and an integration of Natura 2000 objectives into exogenous institutional frameworks.

Duhalde, M., Levrel, H., & Guyader, O. (2017). Is the choice of conservation measures influenced by the targeted natural habitats? The case of French coastal Natura 2000 sites. Ocean & Coastal Management, 142, 15-27.

Partnerships for development in the extractive sector

Partnerships for Development (PfD) is the antidote that extractive industries have used over the last decade to counteract the proliferation of conflicts with local communities. Normatively, the concept of ‘partnership’ positions companies as actors on an equal footing with others in their attempts to collaborate to achieve development outcomes. This article analyses how the PfD strategy has been crafted and implemented in the extractive sector and assess its potential to contribute significantly to local development. Using the Foucauldian framework on power/knowledge and genealogy, we explain how, in a relatively short time, the interaction between context, preexisting discourses, and actors’ interests shaped the PfD discourse and made it famous. The second part of the paper goes beyond the normative conceptualisation and analyses the implementation of PfD through the case studies of the Antamina copper mine in Peru and the Pacific Rubiales oil operation in Colombia. The companies use the PfD discourse to advance their interest vis-à-vis the different stakeholders, minimising the risk of conflicts and cultivating their reputation. These companies resort to the fragmentation of bargaining spaces and rely on the legitimacy provided by paid experts. The result is that PfD has limited capacity to promote local sustainable development.

This paper is part of a forthcoming special issue in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning on power/knowledge in natural resource management

Arellano-Yanguas J. & del Pilar Bernal-Gómez, M. (2017) Partnerships for development in the extractive sector: protecting subterranean interests? Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1523908X.2017.1302321

A typology of material events

Many of contemporary issues, like urban development, climate change, biodiversity conservation, or food security, demand for interdisciplinary approaches that bring together scientist with different ideas about reality and the nature of knowledge. Whereas some focus on the material reality of our world, other focus on the social structures through which humans construct an understanding of that world. This paper presents a framework for going beyond the traditional dichotomy between discourse and materiality. Drawing on the work of one of the most influential sociologists, Niklas Luhmann, it explores the different ways in which materiality can relate to discursive dynamics. Five different events are distinguished: silent, whispering, vigorous, fading and deadly events. These events constitute the spectrum in which changes in the environment affect communication and action. This typology helps to better understand the diversity of societal responses to an ever changing environment.

Duineveld, M., Van Assche, K., & Beunen, R. (2017). Re-conceptualising political landscapes after the material turn: a typology of material events. Landscape Research, 1-10. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01426397.2017.1290791

How to Create Trust and Connection in Learning for Transformation in Water Governance

Trust is often seen as an important element in settings of knowledge sharing and the co-creation of knowledge for dealing with transformations in water governance. However, seemingly similar conversations during a co-creation workshop in Uppsala resulted in both trust and distrust, and thereby influenced consequent possibilities for the co-creation of knowledge. Therefore, this article focuses on how trust influences knowledge sharing and how knowledge sharing influences trust. We use a case study approach to analyze the Uppsala co-creation workshop—part of the Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance (CADWAGO) project—by comparing 25 conversations, making use of theories on swift trust and trust dynamics. We found four different conversation patterns (1) sending; (2) defending; (3) misunderstanding; and (4) connecting. The first three patterns influenced trust negatively and did not lead to knowledge sharing, whereas pattern four showed trust development and co-creation of knowledge. From our comparative analyses, we conclude that trust starts to emerge when there is mutual openness and empathy visible in turn-taking patterns. More specifically, trust emerges when communication styles allow for recognition and exploring underlying needs and wishes, resulting in a more dynamic dialogue, further trust development, and connection between actors. Our list of conversation patterns is provisional but we argue that understanding how different kinds of interactions can lead to trust or distrust is crucial to understanding why and how learning takes place—insights that are essential for fostering learning and transformations in water governance.

Jasper R. de Vries, Séverine van Bommel, Chris Blackmore and Yoshiko Asano (2017) Where There Is No History: How to Create Trust and Connection in Learning for Transformation in Water Governance. Water 2017, 9(2), 130; doi: 10.3390/w9020130

 

 

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