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Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998
From: Ann Dale
Subject: Framework for Governance


 Down One


I will summarize some of the restraining forces preventing governments,at both the federal and provincial levels, from implementing sustainable development, that provides the rationale for the model for governance thatI am proposing.

I apologize for not being able to include the diagrams in this message, but for those of you who are interested, if you forward your fax number, I can forward the relevant diagrams. When the website is updated in December,the appropriate diagrams will be inserted in the text.

The model for governance that I am proposing is based on three premises. First, we need an enlarged decision-making context (definition reiterated below); second, that the current governmental policy process needs to be opened up, and third, that given the nature of sustainable development andthe modern complexity of civil society, transdisciplinary networks of collaboration are needed to support an opened policy process.

This email message will deal with the first two assumptions, followedby your invaluable input, following which I will outline the transdisciplinarynetworks of collaboration, going back to the cod fisheries case study. I will, first, however, define enlarged decision-making contexts, and domains.

Enlarged decision-making contexts. Decision-making for sustainable development cannot be made in isolation by one sector of civil society, including governments.It requires new levels of integrated decision-making that bring together natural and social scientists with public policy practitioners and non-governmentalorganizations. Transdisciplinary fora and dialogues are needed where a multiciplityof legitimate perspectives can be expressed, and where public policy questions on sustainable development and their attendant moral, aesthetic and valuation questions can be addressed (Dale, Electronic Dialogue, April 26, 1998).

Domains are based on what Vickers (1965) called "acts of appreciation."Appreciation is a complex perceptual and conceptual process which meldstogether judgments of reality and judgments of value. A new appreciationis made as a new meta-problem (Chevalier 1966), a problematique, or a "mess"(Ackoff 1974) is recognized. As the appreciation becomes more shared, adomain begins to be identified.

Implementation gaps in both government policies and laws can be partly accounted for by the inadequacy of current organizational structures and administrative processes. It is clear that the present organizational capacity of governments, given the increasing complexity of modern society and the broad horizontal issues it now faces, such as sustainable development, with its predominant vertical structure, calls for a redesigned institutional order (Paquet 1997). Some of the main organizational issues are fragmentation, jurisdictional gaps, polarization of interests, jurisdictional conflicts, piece-meal and uncoordinated policies, conflict over resource uses, and lack of coordination, trust, communication and collaboration (Lowry andCarpenter 1984). Another is the declining trust in government: 67 percent of Canadians say they have little or no confidence in their political leaders (Environics 1995).

In addition, policy failure has also been identified as a major barrierfor the implementation of sustainable development, being responsible, forexample, for much of the current environmental damage in the agriculturalsector (FAO 1991; Hill 1998; International Development Research and PolicyTask Force 1996; MacRae et al. 1990; Norgaard 1994). In addition, Paquet(1997) identifies as an additional barrier: rationalities, non-rationa lreasons and unconscious psychodynamic processes. Alternative rationalities are regarded as major threats as they threaten current power relationships; non-rational reasons are often invoked to prevent a full debate on dominant paradigms; and psychodynamic processes, such as anger, denial, and face-savingbehaviours operate partly unconsciously when leaders are forced to consider alternative agendas. What is clearly needed are public debates about the limitations of the old paradigms, in order to create analytical and reflective space for the development of policy alternatives within government.

What ways, then, are appropriate for spanning the multiple and contending outside stakeholders that governments must engage if, indeed, they are to participate in enlarged decision-making contexts: Such contexts are unlikely to be established unless a new social context emerges through the spread of trans-bureaucratic organizations and the creation of a common groundaround the necessary changes (Emery and Trist 1972). We need to move from closed to open policy-making processes; from issues that are single sector and domestic to ones that are transdisciplinary and global; from governmentas controller and monitor to catalyst and leader; from citizen participation based on exclusive invitation and exclusion, to one based on rights, competency, and responsibilities of inclusion; from policy analysts as technical specialiststo each of these being just individual members of transdisciplinary teams; from management that is primarily vertical to managers that can operate in both horizontal and vertical milieus; from homogenization to a diversity of values; and from a horizon that is short-term and reactive to one that is long-term, proactive, and multiple in time, place and scale perspectives.

By employing more open-ended policy processes that engage users of resourcesand key decision-makers from civil society, feedback loops become closerto the locus of decision-making, with the result that officials can no longer deny the broad and longer term outcomes of their acitons.

Governments then become the nexus of both the generalized and specialized knowledgeable resources that can be applied to the joint creation of socialpolicy and action. Their most important role is transformed to being themost logical convenor of value-driven, collaborative catalyst (Westley andVredenburg 1996) for action. Governments could assume this role becauseof their greater accountability through the electoral process, their roleas an "honest" broker on behalf of civil society, and their accessto the required resources.


The model I am proposing builds upon Sahl and Bernstein's model (on theWebsite under Frameworks for Governance) by proposing an enlarged decision-makingcontext, that provides direct feedback on the development of policy alternatives, policy approaches, strategies and tactics now currently exclusively developed within government. Policy would now be developed in partnership with key stakeholders from the community, who would also be able to provide direct feedback on the efficacy of existing policies in meeting government objectives.Thus, the policy development process is opened up to an enlarged decision-makingcontext that is able to incorporate into the process the diversity of public values and paradigms of which governments need to be cognizant. Debates about competing perspectives, and of preferred states, which also invoke strong values discussions, are replaced by discussions about policy alternatives, against the current contexts. Most importantly, however, it opens up the process to direct feedback and evaluation from outside of government, rather than being a strictly internal phenomenon. By doing this, ideally the system will become equally sensitive to negative as well as positive feedback loops. The detection of feedback and evaluation of processes and outcomes should be conducted by those directly affected by the policies, by stakeholders closest to the problem (multiple scales), and by a plurality of stakeholders whose future choices may be affected.

On a personal note, I came across the following quote, which has provided great comfort personally with the loss of my son, which I now know will have to be integrated somehow into the rest of my life, it is not somethingone gets over. Ironically, I think it also equally applies to academic life. When talking about the death of a young person, Viktor Frankl noted, "We cannot, after all, judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of the contents. . . Sometimes the 'unfinisheds' are among the most beautiful symphonies."

Thank you for your ongoing interest and collaboration during this long silence.




Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998
From: Ann Dale


Up One

 Down One


How, then, can the Federal Government transform itself from our current trajectory of increasingly degraded brittle ecosystems, rigid management, and dependent societies leading to crises (Gunderson et al. 1995). How can the Government become a relevant instrument for this magnitude of social change required to become a sustainable Canadian society for the 21st century? How can the Federal Government reconcile the competing vested interests in an increasingly plural society, as well competing paradigms and conceptual frameworks?

Integration of ecological, social and economic imperatives requires changesin attitudes, structures and behaviour at both societal and personal levels.These changes cannot be imposed, or even effectively fostered through consultation; rather, they must be sought through the collaborative efforts of all involved (Gibson and Tomalty 1985). In addition, a comprehensive understanding of linked natural and human activity systems requires the synthesis of a numberof mutually supportive conceptual frameworks. These include participatory action research and collaborative inquiry (Torbert 1991; Freire 1990; Rapaport1990; Heron 1988; 1996; Reason and Hawkins 1988, 1996; Reason and Rowan1981), strategic questioning (Peavy 1986), soft systems methodologies (Meadowset al. 1972; Checkland and Scholes 1991; Checkland 1981; Churchman 1979),self-organizing properties (Odum 1983; Kay 1994; von Bertalanffy 1968),ecosystem properties (Regier 1995; Woolley, Kay and Francis 1993; Odum 1989; Holling 1986; Ulanowicz 1986), co-evolutionary models (Bateson 1979; Gruen1986; Harries-Jones 1995; Hill 1980; Jantsch 1980; Norgaard 1994; Rosak1995, and Smuts 1976); values-based thinking (Hill 1978; Keeley 1992; Keeney1996; and Orr 1994), as well as multistakeholder processes (Dale 1995).

In addition, as discussed in Chapter 2, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity,as well as integrated modes of inquiry are required for really understanding sustainable development. This is because competence in this area can never be based on complete knowledge, but must rely on best available informationand expertise, intuition, responsible experimentation and common sense. This interdisciplinarity must necessarily integrate the various disciplineswithin both the natural and social sciences, given the complex interactions between environmental and social systems, and particularly the current difficultyof reconciling social and ecological imperatives. It should be noted that whereas many ecological imperatives relate to absolutes, such as each species' specific needs for food and space, social imperatives are relative and muchmore flexible. Although it may not be apparent in the short term, in thelong term, ecology determines the bottom line of human systems, not economics, which eventually must conform to the former.

A helpful technique for exposing dominant thought, methodologies, prevalent paradigms and alternative opportunities is through the use of strategic questioning (Peavey 1986), as previously discussed in Chapter 2. Strategic questioning coupled with the use of holistic models can be extremely helpful in supporting responsible (or co-evolutionary) government decision-making,at both the political and bureaucratic levels, as well as within the populationat large. The building of systems models, both hard and soft, can help to identify gaps in knowledge about complex systems and serve as effective planning tools for policy analysts, decision-makers and stakeholders (Checkland1990) for at least six reasons. First, they have the capability to bring research information and analysis directly to those making resource management decisions without a filter of bureaucratic interpretation. Second, theymake explicit the uncertainties and difficult choices related to risks and time preferences. Third, they can expose innovative policies by making useof spatial replication allowing decision-makers to see the effects of their trade-offs. Fourth, they can facilitate more flexible responses to natural and man-made surprises. Fifth, they can expose gaps in information and knowledge, leading to the development of more precise research agendas. And sixth,by creating a visual image, they can evoke an emotional response, leadingto more direct action (Westley, personal communication). The use of holistic models, therefore, may be an important visual tool to enhance responsible sustainable development decision-making that involves consideration and understanding of the meaning of complex self-organizing and open systemsby a wide variety of sectors. As well, this complexity necessitates greater use of integrated modes of inquiry, such as the provision and facilitationof accessible and influential multistakeholder pluralistic fora.

It is clear that the linear "one problem, one solution approach" is no longer adequate or appropriate and must be replaced by an integrated ecosystem and social system analysis that considers people as a part of,and not apart from nature (Odum 1969). Emphasis on open, self-organizing and holarchic systems (SOHO) may provide an alternative approach for changingour sense of relatedness to one based on inclusion, rather than exclusion.This approach to understanding respects the complexity of organizational forms, and considers function and change in open systems in the contextof their dynamic interactions within and without their respective environments.As a result of such interactions, these systems manifest emergent properties,as in co-evolution. Uncertainty and surprise are fundamental features ofsuch open systems (Holling 1993), as are the related ideas of flexibility,changing and fluid boundaries among system parts. SOHOs can be regardedas being arranged in nested holarchies, in which the parts are reciprocally interdependent with the whole, alternatively dependent and independent.SOHO and soft system methodologies also serve an enlarged decision-making framework able to accommodate situations in which the facts are uncertain,reality is evolving, values are in dispute, the stakes are high and decisionsare urgent. Ecological systems are, indeed, dynamic, inherently uncertain, with potential multiple futures (Holling 1996).

Governments are so fragmented and lacking in holistic systems-analysis capabilities that the task of responding to and our ability imperatives seems overwhelming. Managers and scientists live and work in vastly differentcultures and, as a result, they often view the world from very different perspectives and act on the basis of different values, both of which arelimited in different ways. The meaning of potentially useful information,therefore, can diverge widely between these two groups, resulting in inaccurate communication and paralysis on the part of political decision-makers inthe face of what appears to be conflicting or incomplete information. Lee(1993) has used the phrase civic science to emphasize the point that managing complex systems should be a participatory process, open to learning from errors and profiting from success. Hill (1998) has emphasized the importance of focusing not on the 'oligopic' initiatives, but on overall meaningful acts that can guarantee to carry through to completion, and a public celebration of success to make them contagious (and also of "failures" sothat we may learn from them). Functowitz and Ravetz (1993; 1991) have argued for a post-normal science that addresses the management of uncertainty throughthe democratization of knowledge via an extended, inclusive peer community,and the recognition of a multiplicity of from success. Funtowitz and Ravetz (1993; 1991) have argued for a post-normal science that legitimate perspectivesand values. Since sustainable development issues involve conditions of high variability, complex interactions, and possibly cumulative effects in ways not yet well-understood, I argue that in addition to an extended scientific peer community, it requires considerably enlarged decision-making contexts. Accurate scientific information is essential but not sufficient. As well, the normative nature of sustainable development argues for enlarged contextsfor decision-making (Dale 1995).

Clearly, Government can play a key role, given their overall convening power in society, in providing for and organizing atomistic sets of individual users into interactive, institutionalized, and culturally cohesive groupsto acquire the ability to manage and initiate concrete actions to address the complex sustainable development issues facing 21st century civil societieseverywhere. Government is the most logical leader for this role given itsconvening power in civil society and its greater accountability due to theelectoral process, characteristics that neither business nor the non-governmental communities share.

What is now required to achieve changes in governance of the magnitude needed are principle-centered discourses that bring together many of thealternatives discussed in previous chapters, including ecology, holism, feminism, alternative models like steady-state economics, chaos theory andother emergent sources of wisdom. The following model (Figure 8.3) depicts how these pluralistic decision-making fora might be structured to enhance decision-making for sustainable development.

Figure 8.3 A framework to facilitate responsible decision-making (Dale and Hill 1995)


The above model represents only a first step in integrating the contributions of experts and stakeholders, who will necessarily vary depending upon thespecific issue in sustainable development, and with its unique time scaleand place dimensions. Most importantly, it shifts public discourse towarda new centre in which the instrumental rationality of state and corporate managers is balanced by the ethical judgments and aspirations of the widerpolity (Karlberg 1997).

When values are high, both ecologically and socially, then the decision stakes must be recognized as correspondingly higher for present and future generations. Pluralistic fora cannot have all voices reflected at the table simultaneously, most problematic are those of other species and future generations;and yet, their "interests" are where the stakes are mostly likelyto be the highest. The only way to balance this inadequacy is through the widest diversity of representation possible in these fora. For example,by paying attention to gender balance, and access to power and resources,much broader (and deeper) considerations of the difficult trade-offs tobe made may be achieved.

The accuracy and relevance of the information selected for examinationis key to the success of these pluralistic fora, and for effective decision-makingthat must make meaningful trade-offs. The integrity of this informationis limited by the ability of our current socio-political institutions togenerate both active and responsive (or co-evolutionary) management systems that promote learning and innovation, as well as by policies that may ormay not recognize that processes and products are mutually interrelated.

It is only through the interface of the three overlapping central circles in the above model that the most innovative and effective solutions forsustainable development will emerge from the sharing of new insights fromseveral fields (Kay 1994), and that the plurality of interests will be likelyto be expressed at the table.

Ann Dale



Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998
From: Ann Dale
Subject: Transdisciplinary Networks of Collaboration


Up One

 Down One


I am arguing, therefore, for the building of more organic, responsivepolicy domains around emerging and emergent issues across government. Theseneed to be supported, however, by networks of collaboration for policy development leading to an enlarged advisory context for political decision-making and,in some cases, depending upon the particular issue under consideration, and whether or not decision-making can be devolved, an enlarged decision-makingcontext. In this way, client constituencies of the sectoral departments can be exposed and enlarged through these transdisciplinary fora to becomemore inclusive and national, rather than just federal. As well, with government serving as a supportive resource to these fora, they can become semi-permanentand more stable than most of the loose and ad hoc coalitions that currently exist, thereby creating a counter-balance against the existing vested interests.

In this non-hierarchical model, no one community is regarded as aboveor below the other. In the event the consensus is not achieved around selected issues, then that disagreement is forwarded to the political level for their subsequent decision and, at the same time, it is made public. By briningboth the external scientific and other academic advisors to the same tablewith public policy practitioners and specialists, in networks of collaboration structured around identified priority areas of the current government, mutual learning and direct feedback processes are created openly and transparently. This is not to say that everything can be solved by consensus. Indeed, the exposure of major areas of disagreement is equally important within theseenlarged decision-making contexts.

This kind of participation of civil servants in open policy dialogues works 'horizontally' across governments and society, rather than simply'bottom yp' from citizens to government. In the Netherlands, and especiallyin Canada, horizontal participation is especially important at the provinciallevel, where sectoral provincial regulations and plans (e.g., within theenvironmental sector, but also for health, agriculture, housing, trafficand so on) have to be integrated into national strategies. Participationis not only an end, but also a means for policies to be effectively implemented."Participation is necessary for [and the development and impmentationof] effective policies", says almost all literature on participation(Roe 1997, p. 380).

The current roles of governments of doing, controlling and monitoringare replaced by those of leadership and catalyzing networks of collaborationaround clearly communicated policy domains. Collaboration, in this sense,is defined as "an interactive process having a shared transmutationalpurpose and characterized by explicit voluntary membership, joint decision-making,agreed-upon rules, and a temporary structure" (Roberts and Bradley,cited by Wood and Gray, 1991, p. 143). In this way, the power of the traditionalvested interesets is challenged by these new networks, by advice and informationbecoming more transparent, diverse and open to an enlarged post-normal scientificand other academic context outside of government. Expertise is broadened,no longer limited to internal and external corridors of power, to reflecta plurality of knowledges and expertise throughout the country and beyond.Putting in place a diversity of expertise, enlarged and expanded space isthen created for policy alternatives and for dominant paradigms and meta-barriersto be exposed. As well, fundamental conflicts are also exposed, and periodsof sustained reflexivity opened up around key strategic themes. Throughsuch collaborative negotiations, stakeholders can be identified and collaborateto develop a common language; norms and values governing ongoing interactioncan be established; authority, responsibility, and resources can be allocated(Westley and Vredenbury 1991); and exposure to wider values and paradigmsheld by diverse stakeholders would be facilitated. This kind of lateral-flexibleorganizational form relies on peer-to-peer relationships (as opposed tovertical hierarchies) in developing policy advice from multiple communitiesof knowing, based on the concept of a community of knowing as an open system(Boland and Tenkasi 1995).

These domains have to be loosely coupled, overlaying the vertical departments,thus allowing for ongoing creative destruction and renewal. Loose couplingsuggests the idea of building blocks that can be grafted onto an organizationor severed with relatively little disturbance to either the blocks or theorganizations (Weick 1976). The domain and the departments would thus beresponsive to one another, yet each would preserve its own identity andsome level of physical separateness. In this way, policy deliberations andexpanded public dialogue would be separated from implementation, with departmentsresponsible for implementation of programs and regulations consistent withthe overall policy agendas determined by the political level through theavisory mechanisms of policy domains. What is available for coupling anddecoupling within an organization, however, is an eminently political questionthat allows politicians to have greater leverage on the system.

Dialogue, at the same time, in the same place, and with a continuityof stakeholders, leads to deeper understanding and greater knowledge arundthe issues than the traditionally narrow expertise that normally existson key sustainable development issues. In fact, these networks of collaborationin the long run have the capacity to become networks of civic engagement,as they would mirror the way social and political networks are organizedhorizontally, rather than the present power based hierarchies. A more appropriaterole for governments in the next century may well be to support the processesthat increase social capital, which will ultimately lead to a growth instrengtheing both ecological and economic capital, given their long-terminterdependence. In reality, the social capital embodied in norms and networksof civic engagement seems to be a precondition for economic development,as well as for effective government (Cox 1995; Putman 1993). As well, itmay be hypothesized that the establishment of more common ground will reducedisassociation and alienation. Current experience and expectiation (outsidethe usual narrow range of social encounters) of lack of common ground inhibitsneeded exploration and increases isolation (Emergy and Trist, p. 189). Wisepolicy can encourage social capital formation, and social capital itselfenhances the effectiveness of government action.

Ann Dale



Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999
From: Ann Dale
Subject: Transdisciplinary Networks of Collaboration


Up One

 Down One


Dear co-researchers,

In cleaning up my files for my anticipated doctoral defense on January11, 1999, I noted that last Christmas, I wrote up the fisheries case studythat Shealagh Pope suggested we use against which to apply some of our incredibledialogue over the past year. I wish, in so many ways, that I could havedone more justice to the integrity of what we produced, but as you know,on May 10, 1998, my life changed forever, with the death of my only, beloved,and cherished son. This Christmas is particularly poignant, as it is thefirst without him, and he always came and spent Christmas Eve with Billand I. As adults, we neither accepted or gave gifts, but rather, enjoyed,a special meal on the evening, and then sat around talking about life ingeneral. On Christmas Day, Danny's gift to me was a long hike in the woodswith "our" beloved dogs. It was a very peaceful time. When I finisheddecorating the tree this morning, I realized that I had made the house verybeautiful, because I was still hoping he would be coming tonight.

I have only made it this far because of the support and I know, thoughtsof colleagues like yourself. It is unusual for me to be speaking so personally,but with the guidance of Stuart Hill, I am beginning to realize that whatwe are ultimately talking about as a human society, is really, the reconciliationof the personal, ecological and social imperatives. I have argued with Stuart,however, that it would have been naieve to not have addressed the dominantsocio-economic paradigm, and thus, for this piece of work, I have addressedonly, the ecological, social and economic imperatives.

With your forebearance, I have copied this email correspondence to membersof my committee. Before applying the model that I discussed in my last eamil,may I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a peaceful, joyfuland happy 1999.

I am writing this, as I listen to tapes on my son's wonderful stereosystem, and a slate piece of art, that works as a mini waterfall, somethingthat reminds me of swimming in the summer. And at the same time, I am partakingof a wonderful bottle of wine, that my father buys me every Christmas, exceptthat it is getting so expensive, that I only get one bottle, instead oftwo.

Returning to the fisheries case study, how would the models I have proposedfor enlarged decision-making and open policy contexts and the guiding frameworkwe developed make a difference. This case study illustrates a number ofpolicy failures and structural impediments. First, there was very conflictingscientific advice concerning the size of the stocks, and the reasons forthe decline. Second, there were vertical solitudes between the interanlscientific advisors and the policy development process. Third, there werevertical solitudes and apparent differences beetween external fisheriesscientists and department scientists. Fourth,the scientific advice was insome cases presented in a language not easily understood by non-scientists.Fifth, the Cabinet decision-making process was opague in two ways: first,any advice that is given to Cabinet, both from its scientific and policyadvisors, is regarded as confidential and not subject to access to information.Second, as the Cabinet decision-making process itself is not open, the trade-offsand issues involved in the decision-making are unavailable for more criticalexamination. Lastly, it would appear that regional disparities played alarge role in these trade-offs, giving one Cabinet Minister disproportionateinfluence over both the delivery of information to Cabinet and its finaldeliberations.

Using my proposed models, the policy development process would be openedup to many more of the stakeholders in the Atlantic Canada cod fishery.Stakeholders are defined as agencies and citizens having a stake in theoutcome of the decision, who are able to influence key constituencies affectedby the outcomes of the deliberations (Dale 1995). This clarification isnecessary, I believe, because essentially everyone can claim to have a "stake"in the environment, and since multistakeholder bodies are assumed to beconvened in order to influence government decision-making and/or policydeliberations, then participants are at the table in order to bring variousconstituencies to bear on the issue(s) involved in the discussions. Anotherassumption is that because multistakeholder processes involve dialogue,some conflict will be inevitable. This necessitates expert facilitationand an awareness that consensus will not necessarily be reached in all cases;lack of consensus may be as informative as consensus.

In the case of fisheries policy development, key stakeholders would includethe users of the resource, takers and managers of the resource, governmentsenior policy practitioners from both federal and provincial levels, individualfishers, fish processing owners, fishing associations such as the Nova ScotiaGroundfishermen, and the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association; well-known academicfisheries specialists such as Ludwig, Hillbourne and Walters, whose viewsdiffered strongly from those of the Federal Department, internal governemntscientific advisors, community activists and environmental non-governmentorganizations.

Using the guiding framework we developed, it is highly unlikely thatthat the same decisions could have been taken, especially if, for example,the principles of limits, precautionary principle, resilience, scale anda systems approach were part of the guidelines. Adopting a systems approach,for example, may have eiliminated some of the polarized scientific adviceabout whether the size of the stock was being primarily affected by a changein ocean temperatures or over-fishing. Most likely stock size would havebeen shown to be the result of both effects dynamically interacting in noveland unknown ways. In addition, the effects of scale would have been highlightedthrough the participation of single hook and line fishers and owners ofthe factory freezer trawlers. This framework would certainly have prompteda discussion on values, as well as exposing the dominant paradigmatic thinkingunderlying the various propositions. Perhaps one of the most important civilsociety questions would have been raised through this process, a questionthat we do not know whether or not was ever considered. That is, is it moresustainble to employ inividual hook and line fishers or to employ large-scalefactory freezer trawlers? Could a sustainable fisheries accomodate both?

Of course, the compositon of expertise at the table is of primordialimportance in exposing differences and allowing for consensus. The selectionof experts who also have interdisciplinary expertise in addition to disciplinaryexpertsie is critical for integrative modes of inquiry between the naturaland social sciences. Exposing scientific differences may have led to moremeaningful information being shared with the political decision-makers,either in terms of illuminating the differences or through an emerging consensus.Concentration on the size of the stock masked the underlying human over-exploitation,which probably have been exposed through this proposed form of dialogue.

One of the tragedies of the collapse of the Atlantic cod fishery is thatthe controversy was, in fact, being debated in academic fisheries journals,but these have very limited circulation. Most importantly, the fisheriesdebate would have reached the wider publics before the predictable collapseby making the debate transparent through transdisciplinary fora, perhapsthereby exerting different pressures on the political decision-making level,rather than leaving it soely in the hands of the traditional vested interestsoperating at that time.

In addition, it would have bridged the internal solitdues between policydevelopment experts and their scientific advisors. In many departments,scientific advice is fed into the policy development process, and sincethis also is based on an internal advisory process, one never knows to whatextent the advice is accepted or ignored, nor the trade-offs made at thebureaucratic level. A key feature of these fora is that once their adviceis given to Cabinet, it may then be made public. Thus, greater accountabilityis placed on Cabinet in terms of the trade-offs they make, and whether ornot they choose to ignore the expert advice when reaching their decisions.As well, the power of any one individual becomes limited as a result ofthis level of transparency and greater accountability.

Dialogue, at the same time, in the same place, with a continuity of stakeholders,leads to a deeper understanding and greater knowledge around the issuesthan the traditionally narrow expertise that normally exists on key sustainabledevelopment issues. In additon, the creation of an external transdisiciplinarynetwork of collaboration around sustainable fisheries would also have builta counter-balance to the vested interests influencing Cabinet at that time,notably the fish processing industry and their promotion of the use of factory freezer trawlers.

I look forward to your critical feedback in the New Year.







 Up One

“In nature, the normal way in which trees flourish is by their association in a forest. Each tree may lose something of its individual perfection of growth, but they mutually assist each other in preserving the conditions for survival. A forest is the triumph of the organization of mutually dependent species.”



In Memory of my beloved son, Daniel James Frazer,
September 19, 1966 - May 10, 1998.

Some people when they are on the earth occupy only the space of a tree,
but when they leave, they leave the space of a forest.
We are learning how to live on the edge of a forest.





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