Conflict and confluence, production and preservation, growth and governance: current issues in environmental management in Australia
Bartel, R, Boyde, WE, Lloyd, DJ 2011, 'Conflict and confluence, production and preservation, growth and governance: current issues in environmental management in Australia', paper presented to the Pacific Solutions: International Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 12-15 December.
This panel will examine the conceptual underpinnings of environmental management as a response to global environmental change, using Australia as the case study vehicle for discussion. It will develop a conceptual critique of approaches to contemporary environmental management at a time of significant global environmental change and flux, global population growth, shifting geo- and cultural-politics, and evolving intellectual traditions. Environmental management in Australia is currently facingseveral challenges; examples include: the recent failed Murray Darling Basin community consultation process; the growth of Green political influence in federal politics; the establishment of new coastal policy; the evolving process of local environmental planning processes. This mirrors global shifts.
Importantly, the International Council for Science and International Social Science Council have recently published their Grand Challenges in Global Sustainability Research: A Systems Approach to Research Priorities for the Decade (ICSU, 2010). This agenda for change demands a shift in approach for environmental management, in which “science needs to deliver useful and reliable information that will directly and effectively inform and support the responses and actions of decision-makers andcitizens in all regions of the world”.
While one response to this challenge could be made under, and maintain, the rationalistic, science driven, productionist behaviour which has produced the issues in the first place, we argue that it is timely to re-examine the underlying socio-political, cultural and intellectual conceptual foundations to environmental management – that is to question the rationale and method by which the ICSU challenge may be met. Such re-examination may yield fresh perspectives that allow for more nuanced, socially-constructed, multi-social, multi-cultural, community-sympathetic approaches to environmental issues; it may help in the growing trend towards the recognition and acceptance of the multiple knowledge systems, and their potential interaction, that are so evident on the ground in any environmental management system.
We will develop and discuss the potential for new conceptual foundations which we will argue are required for future approaches to environmental management: approaches that allow for multi-function land use, community capacity building, adaptive management and governance, and grounded community-engaged environmental management.