Expectations and experiences of diverse forms of knowledge use: the case of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment

Waylen, Kerry A.; Young, Juliette. 2014 Expectations and experiences of diverse forms of knowledge use: the case of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 32 (2). 229 -246.

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Assessments of environmental issues are often expected to tackle the perceived disconnect between scientific knowledge and environmental policy making. However, their actual influence on processes of knowledge communication and use remains understudied. We provide one of the first studies of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA), itself one of the first national-level assessments of ecosystem services. We explore expectations, early experiences, and implications for its role in promoting knowledge use, drawing on both documentary evidence and qualitative analysis of interviews with NEA authors and potential users. Many interviewees expected instrumental use; that is, facts directly assisting problem solving. This matches the rhetoric surrounding the NEA’s creation. However, we found more early evidence of interacting conceptual uses (learning), and strategic uses (sometimes deemed misuse). Such uses depend not only on assessment outputs, such as reports, but also on the processes of communication and interaction by which these are created. Thus, planning and analysis of such assessments should deemphasise instrumental use and instead focus on the complex knowledge ‘coproduction’ processes by which diverse and interacting forms of knowledge use may be realised.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0263-774X
Additional Keywords: science–policy interfaces, environmental assessments, ecosystem services, ecological knowledge, knowledge coproduction
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 24 Mar 2015 10:36 +0 (UTC)

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