Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Call for abstracts for a panel on "Climate Governance: controversy, apathy or action?"

Together with Fran├žois Gemenne (IDDRI, Science Po Paris), I'm organizing a panel at the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) conference in Bordeaux (4-7 September 2013). The panel was accepted and paper proposals  can now be submitted to this panel!
Climate Governance: controversy, apathy or action?
Climate governance appears to be in dire straits. The global climate negotiations are having a hard time finding a new direction after the largely failed Copenhagen Summit in 2009. The climate science-policy interface is still recovering from the mediatised controversy spurred by "Climategate" and the alleged errors in the IPCC reports. After the financial crisis turned into an economic crisis, policy makers dedicated to climate policy are struggling to defend their policies against drastic budget cuts. At the same time, the media provide dramatic messages about climate related impacts around the world, climate mitigation and adaptation policies carry on under different names (like "energy" or "flood safety"), and some consider the crisis as an opportunity to create a new and greener economy. In this panel, we welcome papers that address how actors involved in climate governance deal with this challenging context. Where does climate governance provoke controversy, and how does controversy affect climate governance? How does apathy on the side of citizens, or politicians, affect climate governance? Where and how are effective actions taken at different levels of governance? We welcome (comparative) case studies about different countries.

Abstracts can be submitted through the ECPR website:

The deadline is February 1st 2013. Looking forward to interesting paper proposals!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Governance capabilities for dealing wisely with wicked problems

Governance capabilities to deal with wicked problems (think climate change or sustainable food production) are a keystone of the research programme of the Public Administration and Policy group on "Changing governance, governing change" (see our new website The key question is about different approaches to observing and understanding wicked problems, different repertoires of action strategies, and the conditions that are needed to enable the action strategies. In an article by Katrien Termeer, Gerard Breeman, Sabina Stiller and myself published in Administration and Society), we have tried to lay out the fundamentals of four different governance capabilities, which in their combination provide a varied set of lenses and action repertoires to cope with wicked problems. 

This is the abstract:
This article explores an integrative approach for dealing with wicked problems. Wicked problems not only require alternative action strategies, but also alternative ways of observing and enabling. Four governance capabilities are essential: (1) reflexivity, or the capability to deal with multiple frames; (2) resilience, or the capability to adjust actions to uncertain changes; (3) responsiveness, or the capability to respond to changing agendas and expectations; (4) revitalization, or the capability to unblock stagnations. These capabilities form the basis for achieving small wins in wicked problems. We illustrate our argument with examples from sustainable food production of the Common Agricultural Policy.
The paper can is available at or downloaded here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Changing climate, changing frames

One of the PhD researchers I'm working with, Martijn Vink, has just published a paper in Environmental Science and Policy. The paper is about water policy frames in the context of a rise and fall of attention to climate change on the public agenda in the Netherlands. A comparison is made between the framing of water policy and climate change in the Room for the River programme, the Delta Commission and the Delta Programme.

On the right a regularly updated overview of climate change coverage in newspapers worldwide by Maxwell Boykoff, where the peak around the combination of Climategate and the Copenhagen summit is also clearly visible, as is the reduced media coverage afterwards.

This is the abstract:
Water management and particularly flood defense have a long history of collective action in low-lying countries like the Netherlands. The uncertain but potentially severe impacts of the recent climate change issue (e.g. sea level rise, extreme river discharges, salinisation) amplify the wicked and controversial character of flood safety policy issues. Policy proposals in this area generally involve drastic infrastructural works and long-term investments. They face the difficult challenge of framing problems and solutions in a publicly acceptable manner in ever changing circumstances. In this paper, we analyse and compare (1) how three key policy proposals publicly frame the flood safety issue, (2) the knowledge referred to in the framing and (3) how these frames are rhetorically connected or disconnected as statements in a long- term conversation. We find that (1) framings of policy proposals differ in the way they depict the importance of climate change, the relevant timeframe and the appropriate governance mode; (2) knowledge is selectively mobilised to underpin the different frames and (3) the frames about these proposals position themselves against the background of the previous proposals through rhetorical connections and disconnections. Finally, we discuss how this analysis hints at the importance of processes of powering and puzzling that lead to particular framings towards the public at different historical junctures.

Vink, M. J., Boezeman, D., Dewulf, A., & Termeer, C. J. a. M. (2012). Changing climate, changing frames. Environmental Science & Policy, 1–12.

The paper can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Governance of Wicked Climate Adaptation Problems

A book chapter on "Governance of Wicked Climate Adaptation Problems" that is due to appear in a Springer book on Climate Change Governance in 2013 has already been published on-line. I worked on this with my colleagues Katrien Termeer and Gerard Breeman. We discuss the wicked problem characteristics of climate change adaptation and explore the potential of theories about reflexivity, responsiveness, resilience and revitalization to deal with these challenges.

Here's the abstract:

Climate change adaptation has been called a ‘‘wicked problem par excellence.’’ Wicked problems are hard to define because ‘the formulation of the problem is the problem; they are considered a symptom of another problem; they are highly resistant to solutions and extremely interconnected with other problems. Climate change problems are even more complex because they lack a well- structured policy domain, and knowledge about climate change is uncertain and contested. Given the wicked characteristics of the climate issue and its particular challenges, the question is which theories are useful starting points for the gov- ernance of climate adaptation? The chapter distinguishes between theories and concepts that focus on reflexivity, on resilience, on responsiveness and on revitalisation. Instead of integrating these theories in one overarching governance approach, the chapter suggests an approach of theoretical multiplicity. It proposes that exploiting the variety of concepts and strategies based on the different theories can increase the governance capacity to deal with climate change. Finally, it addresses the moral dimension of wicked problems, which suggests that it is unacceptable to treat a wicked problem as though it were a tame one. Governance scholars nowadays risk raising expectations far beyond their ability to deliver, and thus enhance confusions over whether wicked problems are in fact tame ones.

Termeer, C., Dewulf, A., & Breeman, G. (2013). Governance of Wicked Climate Adaptation Problems. In J. Knieling & W. Leal Filho (Eds.), Climate Change Governance (pp. 27–39). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

The article can be found at or downloaded here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Doing scalar politics: interactive scale framing for managing accountability in complex policy processes

An article by one of my PhD students, Maartje van Lieshout, has just been published in Critical Policy Studies. The paper takes an interactional framing approach to study how scale frames are used to manage accountability in policy discussions about "megafarms".  

Doing scalar politics: interactive scale framing for managing accountability in complex policy processes

Maartje van Lieshout, Art Dewulf , Noelle Aarts and Catrien Termeer

This is the abstract:

Complex policy issues increasingly play out in multilevel and multi-scale contexts. This allows for scale framing: framing an issue at a particular scale and level. In this arti- cle, we study scale framing as an interactional phenomenon in various policy settings, with a focus on its role in managing accountability. Using an interpretive approach, based on discourse and conversation analysis, we analyze three different policy interac- tions.We show how actors do scalar politics in face to face interactions, by using scale frames to manage accountability. We tentatively revealed three scale framing patterns. We conclude that a discursive approach to accountability is an important addition to more procedural approaches in complex policy processes.

The article can be found at or downloaded here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Overview of presentations at MOPAN 2012

MOPAN 2012 at Wageningen will feature about 90 presentations of contributors from all over the world. An overview of the accepted presentations for the general conference and the thematic tracks is available at Click on the tracks and scroll down to see the list of accepted papers.

Last chance for registration at the early bird fee of 295 EUR is on May 6th! To register visit

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Post-doc position Governance of Climate Adaptation at WUR-PAP

As a post-doc you will participate in the Knowledge for Climate (KfC) programme Theme 7, Governance of Climate Adaptation (, led by the Public Administration and Policy Group at Wageningen University (
In this programme five Dutch universities, three foreign universities and many Dutch stakeholders conduct collaborative research. You will be co-responsible for Work Package 1 (Collaborative Action Research for Science Hotspot Relations) and Work Package 6 (Synthesis).

Your main activities are:
1) publishing about and facilitating collaborative action research
2) facilitating learning processes between hotspots
3) writing synthesis reports

We ask
You are an ambitious and enthusiastic scientist and a team player, devoted to action research and to researching the governance of climate adaptation.
The ideal candidate
  • Has completed a PhD in the field of public administration, political sciences or environmental science, preferable in the policy domain of climate change
  • Has experience with or is interested in collaborative research methods
  • Is able to write articles and documents, to which many researchers contribute
  • Has published internationally in refereed scientific journals
  • Is fluent in English and Dutch
We offer
We offer you a position of post-doc with a temporary contract for 0.5 FTE, for a period of 2,5 years (July 2012-December 2014).

Application is possible on the Academic Transfer website:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Last call for papers for the MOPAN 2012 conference!

MOPAN 2012 Conference
Last call for papers
(submission deadline extended until February 3)
19th Annual Conference on Multi-Organisational Partnerships,
Alliances and Networks
“Multi-actor collaboration in an uncertain and ambiguous world”
July 2-4, 2012, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Confirmed keynote speakers
Prof. Barbara Gray, Pennsylvania State University
Prof. Rob van Tulder, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Dr. Steve Waddell, NetworkingAction/Bocconi University

Call for papers

The MOPAN conference series focusses on partnerships, alliances and networks between any combination of business actors, civil society actors and governmental actors. We invite papers and other contributions (symposia, workshops, games, videos, …) related to the conference theme or one of the thematic tracks outlined below. Please outline your contribution in an abstract of maximum 500 words and send it to, indicating whether you submit it to the general conference or to one of the thematic tracks.

Track 1. Dealing with frame diversity in collaborative water governance 

Track 2. Towards Version 2.0 of Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: Rethinking business-NGO- government relationships in governing sustainable production of global commodities 
Track 3. Power in multi-stakeholder processes for development 
Track 4. Facilitating resilience in multi-actor collaboration 
Track 5. Innovation networks: self-organization and adaptive management 
Track 6. Stakeholder involvement in the United Nations 
Track 7. Network dynamics 
Track 8. Complexity leadership and sustainable development 
Track 9. Multi-actor pilot projects and policy experiments 
Track 10. Global Action Networks
Track 11. Still Joining up? Health partnerships, collaborations, networks and integrations

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Web-based environmental simulation: bridging the gap between scientific modelling and decision-making

This "just accepted" article results from an interdisciplinary project led by Wouter Buytaert. The project was funded by the NERC Environmental Services for Poverty Alleviation scheme and explores the potential of Virtual Observatories for local resource management. One of the key question is how to make environmental information and simulations useful for resource management and local decision making in Ecuador (Yasuni park) and Peru (Huaraz and Iquitos). The two other co-authors are from the local project partner CONDESAN.

Web-based environmental simulation: bridging the gap between scientific modelling and decision-making

Web technologies offer the potential to re-configure how environmental models are developed and used, breaking models out of their scientific environment and make them available for ubiquitous processing and analysis of environmental information. This will not be straightforward. Several technical and scientific challenges have to be overcome to ensure that models provide the right data for decision-making, and that model outputs are interpreted correctly and used in an appropriate context.

The article can be found at the journals website (, open access after free registration) or below.