Friday, November 21, 2014

Indigenous peoples and climate change mitigation: addressing issues of scale, knowledge and power

A paper I have worked on together with Marcela Brugnach and Marc Craps has just appeared on-line in the journal Climatic Change.

Including indigenous peoples in climate change mitigation: addressing issues of scale, knowledge and power

The abstract read as follows:

Involving indigenous peoples in the development of mitigation measures for climate change presents procedural, conceptual and structural challenges. Here, we reflect on some of these challenges and ways of overcoming them, as suggested by collaborative approaches to policy and decision making. We specifically focus on issues of scale, knowledge and power, and how they interrelate to act as a barrier or opportunity for the involvement of indigenous groups. We argue that multi-scalar negotiations, blended knowledge and power-sharing structures are all necessary to include indigenous communities as valuable partners in climate change mitigation, and we suggest strategies and recommendations for actively accomplishing this inclusion. Examples from recent literature about the inclusion of indigenous communities in different sectors, are used to illustrate and provide evidence of the current problematic and the need for collaborative solutions. Overall, the ideas expressed here, serve as a conceptual framework to better understand and support the inclusion of indigenous communities in policy and decision making processes.

The paper can be downloaded here or at

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Citizen science, water-related ecosystem services and decision-making

The Mountain-EVO project on Adaptive Governance of Mountain Ecosystem Services has yielded a first joint publication, in the form of cross-disciplinary exploration of the role of citizen science in water resources management. It is based on a project-wide effort reflected in the long author list of this articles in Frontiers of Earth Science.

Citizen science in hydrology and water resources: opportunities for knowledge generation, ecosystem service management, and sustainable development

Buytaert W, Zulkafli Z, Grainger S, Acosta L, Alemie TC, Bastiaensen J, De Bièvre B, Bhusal J, Clark J, Dewulf A, Foggin M, Hannah DM, Hergarten C, Isaeva A, Karpouzoglou T, Pandeya B, Paudel D, Sharma K, Steenhuis T, Tilahun S, Van Hecken G and Zhumanova M

This is the abstract:
The participation of the general public in the research design, data collection and interpretation process together with scientists is often referred to as citizen science. While citizen science itself has existed since the start of scientific practice, developments in sensing technology, data processing and visualization, and communication of ideas and results, are creating a wide range of new opportunities for public participation in scientific research. This paper reviews the state of citizen science in a hydrological context and explores the potential of citizen science to complement more traditional ways of scientific data collection and knowledge generation for hydrological sciences and water resources management. Although hydrological data collection often involves advanced technology, the advent of robust, cheap, and low-maintenance sensing equipment provides unprecedented opportunities for data collection in a citizen science context. These data have a significant potential to create new hydrological knowledge, especially in relation to the characterization of process heterogeneity, remote regions, and human impacts on the water cycle. However, the nature and quality of data collected in citizen science experiments is potentially very different from those of traditional monitoring networks. This poses challenges in terms of their processing, interpretation, and use, especially with regard to assimilation of traditional knowledge, the quantification of uncertainties, and their role in decision support. It also requires care in designing citizen science projects such that the generated data complement optimally other available knowledge. Lastly, using 4 case studies from remote mountain regions we reflect on the challenges and opportunities in the integration of hydrologically-oriented citizen science in water resources management, the role of scientific knowledge in the decision-making process, and the potential contestation to established community institutions posed by co-generation of new knowledge.
The paper can be downloaded here or on the website of the open access journal Frontiers in Earth Science:

Monday, September 29, 2014

The power to frame the scale?

The final empirical chapter in Maartje van Lieshout's PhD dissertation got published in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning! Maartje successfully defended her PhD on the 8th of January this year, and her dissertation can be downloaded here. The full title of the article is:

The Power to Frame the Scale? Analysing Scalar Politics over, in and of a Deliberative Governance Process

This is the abstract:
Scale framing is a powerful mechanism in shaping the meaning of policy issues, with far-reaching consequences for governance processes in terms of responsibilities and inclusion or exclusion of actors and ideas. However scale framing has not received much attention in public administration and policy sciences. In this paper, we study scale framing in governance processes. We question how some actors ensure that their scale frames prevail, whereas other scale frames disappear. We analyse the interplay between scale framing and power dynamics in a debate about the future of Dutch intensive agriculture. We distinguish between the power dynamics: in the interaction, of the interaction and over the interaction. Our study shows that at first sight, the ‘power-over’ in this process appeared very strong and dominated the ‘power-in’ and the ‘power-of’, but in the end, surprisingly, the power-of appeared even stronger. Furthermore, we show that scale frames are powerful discursive devices in the different episodes (power-in), but the analysis of the process shows that the variety in (scale) frames largely disappears. Thus, although there are many good arguments in favour of organizing policy processes deliberatively, the process design in this case strengthened central government's power-over, rather than the other actors’ power-of.
The paper can be downloaded here or at

The full reference: is Lieshout, M. van, Dewulf, A., Aarts, N., & Termeer, C. (2014). The Power to Frame the Scale? Analysing Scalar Politics over, in and of a Deliberative Governance Process. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, (September), 1–24. doi:10.1080/1523908X.2014.936581

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Informational governance projects at Wageningen University

As part of strategic research programme of Wageningen University on Informational Governance for Sustainability, several research projects are on-going. I'm involved in two of them and they have produced nice factsheets that give an overview of these projects. Click on the banners or links below for the factsheets.

Factsheet ECOMPRIS:
Factsheet social media:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Postdoc position “Adaptive governance of mountain ecosystem services”

The Public Administration and Policy group at Wageningen University is urgently looking for a postdoc to carry out research in the ESPA project “Adaptive governance of mountain ecosystem services for poverty alleviation enabled by environmental virtual observatories (MOUNTAIN-EVO)”. We are looking for a social science researcher in this cross-disciplinary project with Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham. This position involves working with local researchers in mountain regions in Peru, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal and synthesizing the social science insights on the potential of participatory monitoring, knowledge co-generation and environmental virtual observatories for adaptive governance of water-related ecosystem services in these mountain regions. The project will be under supervision of dr. Art Dewulf and prof. Katrien Termeer of the Public Administration and Policy group. For more information on the MOUNTAIN-EVO project, see or

We are looking for ambitious and enthusiastic scientist, with a PhD in a relevant social scientific discipline and with cross-disciplinary research skills.
The ideal candidate:
• has a PhD in the field of public administration, political science, development studies, environmental studies or other relevant social-science discipline
• is familiar with the literature on ecosystem services, adaptive governance and poverty alleviation
• has experience with doing research in the global South and is prepared to travel to the different case study areas for fieldwork
• has published internationally in refereed scientific journals
• is able to write scientific articles and reports, to which many researchers contribute
• has excellent communication and writing skills in English (knowledge of Dutch or Spanish is an advantage)

We offer a full time postdoc position based at Wageningen University, for 30 months (2.5 years) with an intended starting date of 1 May or 1 June 2014. For more information or to apply, contact art . dewulf @ wur . nl (without the spaces) as soon as possible.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Analytical framework of social learning facilitated by participatory methods

As part of her PhD project at the University of Osnabrück, Geeske Scholz has just published a paper in Systemic Practice and Action Research, entitled:

Analytical framework of social learning facilitated by participatory methods

The full reference is:
Scholz, G., Dewulf, A., & Pahl-Wostl, C. (2013). An Analytical Framework of Social Learning Facilitated by Participatory Methods. Systemic Practice and Action Research. doi:10.1007/s11213-013-9310-z

Social learning among different stakeholders is often a goal in problem solving contexts such as environmental management. Participatory methods (e.g., group model building and role playing games) are frequently assumed to stimulate social learning. Yet understanding if and why this assumption is justified is quite limited. Difficulties arise from the complexity and context-dependence of processes influencing social learning. Furthermore, continuing discussion of the exact meaning and theoretical basis of social learning result in a limited capacity to assess and evaluate whether social learning has occurred. In this paper we introduce an analytical framework to develop an in depth understanding of essential processes underlying social learning facilitated by participatory methods. Concepts from different fields of science are discussed and integrated, including resource management, small group research and learning research. The individual and group perspectives are brought together via mental models and emergent roles. We added the direction of learning, being either convergent or divergent, to be able to explore if and when personal views on a problem converge into a shared understanding of a problem. The analysis of convergence and divergence of learning is facilitated through the use of the mental model concept. Methods for measurement of proposed indicators for social learning are also discussed. The framework developed provides a conceptual basis for the analysis
of social learning facilitated by participatory methods and an operationalization for application in empirical research.

The paper can be found at or downladed here.