Frameworks: Part 5

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Framework(s), Part V

To Framework(s), Part IV

 


 

 

Date: Sun, 12 Apr 1998
From: Ann Dale
Subject: Response to Shealagh Pope

     

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    I am replying to Shealagh's message dated March 24, 1998. She asked anumber of key questions, one of them most critical to this research, "Howwould we recast the federal government as one such (learning) institution?

    Hopefully, this question will be addressed when we start discussing possibleframework(s) for governance, but I think in some ways our principles alludeto the answers. For example, feedback, particularly negative, and subsidiarity,if accepted as operating principles by governments, will increase the potentialfor learning by federal institutions. It seems to me that the closer thedecision-making is to the ecosystems being affected, the greater the possibilityof feedback, both negative and positive, which is essential to learning.If you look at how isolated, for example, Cabinet members are, how accessto them is controlled, and information (especially negative) is channeled,Cabinet Ministers are consequently so removed from the effects of theirdecisions. Then, throw in the distortions that vested interests play inmaintaining the status quo, and how the corridors of power are patrolledand access strictly controlled, then the probability of any negative feedbackreaching the people with the ultimate power to change the system is veryslim. Go back to our fisheries analysis. This isolation also applies tothe senior levels of the bureaucracy, and thus, the potential for learningand changing the status quo is very slim.

    Thus, subsidiarity, moving programs down to the lowest most effectivelevel for implementation is key to sustainable development and learningfor human activity systems, or we are doomed to keep repeating the boomand bust cycles of natural resources that we have evidenced since the agriculturalrevolution.

    Shealagh then asks what are pluralistic fora. When giving talks or seminarsabout the Canadian National Round Table process, I usually title my talks,Window Dressing or Panacea? In other words, multistakeholder processes becameCanada's unique response to the 1987 Brundtland Commission report. You mayrecall that one of the rationales for disbanding the Canadian EnvironmentalAdvisory Council (CEAC) by the Privy Council Office was that it was supercededby the National Round Table. At that time, I argued, we needed both, thatmultistakeholder processes could not, and should not, replace other typesof bodies. Furthermore, until we had fully integrated economic, ecologicaland social decision-making into a Cabinet Committee on Sustainable Development,replacing the previous ones on Social and Economic Development, we neededas many diverse fora as possible influencing the system at as many pointsas possible. As well, the difficulties, at that time, developing a modelwithout any known precedents or proceedures in place, were immense, andour thinking at that time, was that multistakeholder processes did not dealwith any current issue, but rather were oriented towards longer-term issuesthat no-one else was working on. Thus, the idea of pluralistic fora, thatis, many different kinds of decision-making or advisory bodies that aredesigned to open up the decision-making process, make back-door lobbyingmore transparent, reveal the vested interests at play, identify the stakes,and hopefully, reach better and more democratic solutions.

    The next question, "How to make the government more amenable tonot being the centre of all decision-making on sustainable development issues?"is highly pertinent. At the moment, there is no framework for sustainabledevelopment across the Federal Government, although the sustainable developmentstrategies now tabled by the individual departments are starting to addressthe gaps. Nevertheless, each department has defined sustainable developmentaccording to their own mandate and objectives, and the Commissioner's Officefor Sustainable Development and the Environment is hoping, I believe, througha gap analysis, to ultimately come to some common framework. I think, thatif a common framework, with well-articulated principles is in place acrossgovernment to influence their decision-making, then it will be a major stepforward. This is not to say that government is the only player, but I believeit can play a key role, through its incentive and disincentive systems,through its purchasing and leadership roles, in more rapidly diffusing theprinciples and practices of sustainable development through Canadian society.

    I know that there has been many criticisms of the NRTEE, that it wasa talk shop, and as Shealagh pointed out, was simply an attempt by industryto keep people from action. Let's go back to our principles, however, ofmultiple perspectives, plural methodologies and learning. It is simplicticto say there was only one agenda, the NRTEE, for better or for worse, wasinfluenced by multiple agendas. You musn't forget that industrial interests,and particularly, industrial associations, were particularly threatenedby the opening of the process, by the access to senior Cabinet Ministersby this group of 24. There were tremendous pressures to shut the processdown, to minimize our attempts to enlarge the decision-making context. Talkingabout context, remember the context of 1988, when we first started the NationalRound Table and look at some of the work that was produced. The establishmentof the Commissioner's office is a direct result of the National Round Table'swork, and there are many numerous examples. Look at the learning that wenton, and yes, in today's context, we would structure it differently, butgiven the ignorance around sustainable development at that time, the accomplishmentsmust be evaluated from that context.

    And that leads me to my concluding point. I recently was referred tothe Salmon River Watershed Round Table as an example of a round table thatwas working effectively at restoring and moving to preservation of thatparticular watershed. In fact, it appears the round table is so effective,that the forestry industry now routinely consults with it, before makinglogging decisions. One of the reasons it is so effective, apparently, isbecause it brings so many users of the watershed together, again one ofour principles, diversity, and that many of them, through listening andcommunication, realized the impacts of their very local decision-makingon other users of the watershed.

    As well, there are now 45 local round tables operating in British Columbiaalone. This was an initiative catalyzed and pushed by the National RoundTable, although because we worked through the provincial round tables, quiteoften, they claim the credit. I believe there are over 1000 local roundtables doing "real" stuff across the country.

    Yes, some will be more successful than others, and some will be an excusefor excluding voices, such as Lands for Life, and maintaining the statusquo and vested interests. That is the nature of human beings, and we havea long way to go before we are truly socialized in the meaning of life.

    That is enough of my own ramblings on a beautiful sunny afternoon fromLac Maskinonge. I am going to go out and remove the leaves from my gardenbeds, and then bask in the sun with a cold beer.

    Ann

     


     

    Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998
    From: Nina-Marie Lister)
    Subject: Principles - Integrity

     

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    Greetings,

    I came across some ideas from Westra (1995) while writing recently andthought they might be helpful in developing the principle of integrity thatAnn's working on.

    Ideas on Integrity:

    Ecosystem integrity is primary and must be supported and protected becauseit is foundational to three areas: "(1) support for all biota, eventhat which lives beyond the limits of wild areas; (2) support for humanhealth, through general assistance in human maintenance, including agriculturalsustainability; and (3) support for some carefully and respectfully chosenhuman activities that are technological and economic and for which, minimally,a healthy environment is necessary." (Westra, 1995: Chapter 2, pg.14)

    [Following this argument], integrity and its protection is a moral choicethat is vital to sustainability, and which should ground public policy (Westra,1995: Chapter 2, pg. 29).

    In the context of ecological and sustainability, Lemons & Westra(1995) define integrity through its scientific concepts and ethical dimensions.Specifically, it includes "(1) ecosystem health, which may apply tosome nonpristine or degraded ecosystems provided that they function successfully;(2) ecosystems' abilities to regenerate themselves and withstand stress,especially nonanthropogenic stress; (3) ecosystems' optimum capacity forundiminished developmental options; and (4) ecosystems' abilities to continuetheir ongoing change and development unconstrained by human interruptionspast or present." (Lemons & Westra, 1995: Chapter 1, pg. 2)

    Given the complexity inherent in ecosystems, integrity cannot be definedin a purely mechanistic manner. Integrity is part of the domain of post-normalscience. (Westra, 1995: Chapter 2).

    Perhaps this gives us something to play with...

    Cheers, Nina-Marie

    P.S. The full references for the above ideas are:

    Lemons, J. and L. Westra, (eds.) 1995. Perspectives onEcologicalIntegrity. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Press. 279 p.

    Westra, L. 1995. Ecological Integrity and Sustianability:The FoundationalValue of the Wild. Chapter 2 in: J. Lemons & L. Westra(eds.) Perspectiveson Ecological Integrity. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Press.pp 12-33.

     


     

    Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998
    From: David Sims
    Subject: principles for Dr. Dale

     

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    Colleagues:

    Please help me with this one. Ann asked for brief, concise, get-to-the-pointprinciples. I'm having trouble focussing. Here's the basic tenet, a workin progress, and I hope you will pitch in and develop it further. Nina-Marie'srecent offering on ecosystem integrity was the catalyst to get me goingthis far.

    Working Title: The Principle of Hard Edges (doesn't sound good ... needswork)

    Definition: Ecosystems may be complex, simple, rugged or fragile, butthere are limits, beyond which, they will be damaged, possibly in an irrepairablemanner. Proponents of SD (as opposed to eco-fanatics) must not give awaythe ecosystem in a spirit of compromise, and not set up proposals, modelsor plans that encourage or allow politicians to compromise too much.

    Rationale:

    1. If politics is the art of compromise, and compromise is the workingtool that has caused us to run out of fish, pollute the St. Lawrence Riverand bring Canada to the edge of other serious ecological problems (air pollution,deforestation, etc.), then compromise is bad. (What does that say aboutpolitics and the environment?) We have to assemble the scientific data asbest as possible, then define hard edges to ecosystems' abilities to acceptinsult, then stick with them.

    2. If something is clearly not sustainable, we need to say so. The currentrate of taking lumber from the forests of the world doesn't strike me asremotely sustainable, so why pretend otherwise? The current use of fossilfuels, the current growth in human population, the increasing demand forresources of all kinds ... these are not sustainable. A ten percent reductionfor emissions of something is not sustainable if its linked to somethingelse that is not sustainable, such as a 'per capita basis' or whatever.If we are putting way too much carbon doixide into the atmosphere to preventglobal warming, then a 20% reduction is a political compromise that is notsustainable. We must be prepared to say so.

    Forecasting doomsday scenarios is not effective, and I'm not suggestingthis. There must be ways for a SD program to ingrain within societies theneed to reduce the impact of humans upon the biosphere.

    If ecosystem integrity is primary and must be supported and protected,as per Nina-Marie's post of 90 minutes ago (I agree with her message), thenI guess I'm trying to come up with defineable ways to preserve integrity.

    Suggestions?

    david sims

     


     

    Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998
    From: Christine Massey
    Subject: multiple perspectives, Reader's Digest version

     

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    The principle of multiple perspectives expands our decision-making processesby bringing different kinds of knowledge to the table. This principle challengesour reliance on dominant scientific approaches that, while remaining importanttools, can only provide us with a partial view of a problem and its solution.Multiple perspectives means enlarging our ideas of who are the "experts"and what kinds of information are important. It means seeking multiple sourcesof observations about our natural world as well as its social and economicspheres. This process should bring to the fore the different assumptions,values and goals embodied in different perspectives.

    cm

    [ugh, that was hard. I haven't been forced to be this concise in a longtime.....]

     


     

    Date: Fri, 01 May 1998
    From: Dale Scott Rothman
    Subject: Principles

     

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    Hi Guys,

    A few thoughts before I revisit how Ann has condensed the principle ofdiversity. I have often used the metaphor swinging/flying through a forestto think about boundaries. The leaves and branches provide us with somewarning that a big fat trunk is coming up pretty soon, which, if we do notslow down or change our direction, will stop us in our track. Having startedmy baseball season again, though, I think that I may have a better one.Most fields have what is called a warning track along the outfield fenceand in foul territory. Its purpose is to warn the fielder that they willhit the wall in a few steps and should be careful to avoid serious injury.The question is can we design warning tracks for complex systems that weunderstand only incompletely.

    I think that the above is somewhat related to D. Sims idea of hard edgesand when not to compromise. Then again, his idea might be somewhat moreakin to the question of how far can you bend before you break. To use somebasic ideas from physics, compromise is ok to the point that we are stillin the elastic region of a system, but not when it pushes us into the plasticor brittle region.

    OK, now on to diversity. Here is how Ann summarized things on Apr 26- our supposed due date for our contributions (impatient, aren't we!): DIVERSITY

    Diversity is the spice of life (Rothman,[date]). Diversity is an essentialfeature feature of all self-organizing systems, whether socio-economic,political, or ecological. To homogenise diversity and foster uniformityis to rob any complex system of future evolution, adaptive capacity, andultimately of its essence (Lister, 4.22.98).

    First, the date of my contribution was 3.20.98. Second, I have no recordof an entry by Nina-Marie on 4.22.98. Forgetting that, I am not completelyhappy with this brief summary. I think that we need to add something thatgoes further into why diversity is essential, e.g. the link to resilence(the role of redundancy?). Secondly, unless I was off in my earlier statements,we also need to state that diverse (complex) systems require diverse (complex)means of understanding.

    Dale

    p.s. Sorry if the above is a bit sloppy. My mind is a bit preoccupiedas I have an interview at McGill on Monday and Tuesday. Wish me luck.

     


     

    Date: Mon, 4 May 1998
    From: Nina-Marie Lister
    Subject: Diversity Principle

     

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    Hi everyone,

    Dale's comments on diversity provoked me to add a few thoughts basedon my own research in this area. (I'm busy writing my dissertation so it'sall fresh in my uploaded memory!)

    Dale says:

    >... I think that we need to add something that goes further intowhy >diversity is essential, e.g. the link to resilence (the role ofredundancy?). Secondly, unless I was off in my earlier statements, we alsoneed to state that diverse (complex) systems require diverse (complex) meansof understanding.

    I agree and so I offer the following for consideration:

    "Biodiversity (at all scales and contexts, including genetic, population,community, landscape, and cultural/ethological) is essentially the informationbase that makes ecosystems resilient to change. Specifically, biodiversityconstitutes the fundamental regenerative capacity of ecosystems to self-organisefollowing disturbance. As such, the protection and conservation of biodiversityis a prerequisite for ecosystem integrity, health, and ultimately, sustainability.By protecting and conserving biodiversity we are essentially making an investmentthe future health of ecosystems, because we know, as with all complex systems,inevitably (as opposed to contingently) they will be subject to periodsof dynamic change.

    Accordingly, decision making for complex ecosystems must reflect theiressence: it must be flexible, diverse, and adaptive."

    (From Lister, 1998)

    Cheers, Nina-Marie

     


     

    Date: Fri, 15 May 1998
    From: David T. Brown
    Subject: Ann's loss

     

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    Dear dialogue colleagues:

    I was in Ottawa earlier this week and had planned to meet with Ann, but was unable to, due to the tragic circumstances of which you are all now aware. While I was there, I saw the enclosed announcement in the Ottawa Citizen, and thought that you might wish to know about it.

    Ann's mailing address in Ottawa is 2 Twin Terrace, Nepean, Ontario K2E5E4.

    With sadness and sympathy for our friend and colleague,

    Dave Brown

    --------------------------

    FRAZER, Daniel James. On Sunday, May 10, 1998. Beloved only child ofAnn Dale, Larry Frazer, and William Voller. Cherished grandson of Catherine Dale and Milton and James Dale, Mary and Thurlow Frazer, and Joan and KeithVoller. Beloved nephew of Elaine, James, and Shelley Dale. He also leaves to mourn many who loved him dearly for his gentleness, his brilliance thatnever saw the light of day and his wonderful integrity. God be with youour Daniel James. May you be running with Mamut on the other side of theRainbow Bridge. A memorial service will be held at the Central Chapel ofHulse, Playfair and McGarry, 315 Macleod Street, on Tuesday, May 19 at 11a.m. Friends are invited to bring a white rose as a symbol of peace. Inmemorial donations to the Carleton University Dan Frazer Scholarship Fund would be greatly appreciated by his family.

    ----------------------

     


     

    Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998
    From: Ann Dale
    Subject: For my beloved Danny James Frazer

     

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    "There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridgeis love--the only survival, the only meaning (Wilder. The Bridge of SanLuis Ray). I would change this to read "love and compassion--the onlysurvival, the only meaning."

    As you know, on May 10, 1998, our lives changed completely with the death of our beloved only child, Daniel James Frazer. It is paradoxical that weprobably know more about the meaning of life, only through such terribleloss and pain, and yet, we don't have the beings we most love to be ableto share that new knowledge with. Danny never believed that we could savethe environment, his view of the world was that of a pessimist, and as oneof my close colleagues said, "that means we will have to work evenharder to save the environment (Clifford Lincoln, Member of Parliament)".

    When some beings are on Earth, they occupy only the space of a tree,but when they leave, they leave the space of a forest. All of my familywho loved and cherished the gentleness and integrity of what made Danny,are trying to learn to live on the edge of a forest. As my sister, Elaine,said, I never realized that Danny never said a bad word about anyone inhis entire life.

    And so, I am struggling to honour by son, by going on, and my thesiswill be dedicated to his brilliance, to the memory of such a special being.I have included, with your forebearance, the eulogies given at his memorialservice on May 19, 1998, in the Values section, in some ways, a vain attemptto make his memory immortal.

    I have now edited, to the best of my abilities, the principles we werepreviously compiling, following upon our agreed upon definition of sustainabledevelopment, and the five strategic imperatives from the World Scientists'Warning to Humanity, 1993. In those cases where we are missing a contribution,I have gone over previous emails, and provided some text, with the annotationof forthcoming. In these instances, would the co-researchers please vetthe text and make any changes and forward to me by this Sunday, if at allpossible. I am now, due to my personal circumstances, working to criticaldeadlines, and apologize for the pressure. As well, Christine, once again,I cannot find your revised text, would you please insert.I have replacedplural methodologies with triangulation, so, Shaelagh, do you think youcould come up with some text for integrity, which would incorporate a meaningfrom ecological systems that is applicable for human systems, once again,by this coming Sunday?

    Dale, I also feel diversity needs some more definiton, if you can refineit?

    Following closure on these principles, I will start discussions on atenative framework for governance, building upon Holling and Walter's adaptativemanagement, but with something, I have called responsive management. I amconscious of the fact that we could adapt to anything, given the will, butthat perhaps what is more called for, is a fundamental change in paradigmwhere we see ourselves as part of nature, and not apart from nature (Odum1971), and therefore, the only thing we can manage is our own impacts, andnot a nature that is separate from us, and therefore, the most meaningfulchange will be a framework for government that is capable of "responding"to ecological information in a timely fashion, before irreversible thresholdsare reached.

    Following our closure on a framework with governance, these two sectionswill be vetted with 20 senior policymakers in the Federal Government, manyof whom have been identified as "fast-tracked", that is, theyhave the potential to become Deputy Ministers in the next decade. I urgeyou to consider the practicality, the language, and how well the principleswe have articulated to date will influence their thinking.

    Principles for Decision-Making

    Cyclical processes. Achieving sustainable levels of productionand consumption requires fundamental redesign of human activity systemsfrom linear input-throughput of production processes to redesign of thosesystems for closed loop systems. Inspired by the models of natural organismsand ecosystems, industrial production systems must reduce energy use andrecover waste heat, and reduce, reuse, recycle and recover materials acrossthe life-cycle of a product; minimize entropy by designing products to limitdowncycling, and to facilitate repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, reuseand recycling; reduce the material intensity of the product system; anddematerialise some activities and products by using digital instead of materialconsumption (Cairns, April 29, 1998).

    Diversity is the spice of life (Rothman, March 20, 1998). It isan essential feature of all self-organizing systems, whether socio-economic,political, or ecological. To homogenize diversity and foster uniformityis to rob any complex system of future evolution, adaptive capacity, andultimately of its essence (Lister, April 22, 1998).

    Dynamic, self-organising, open, holartic systems (SOHO) are importantanalogues for human decision-making; they are organic models of complexsystems that occur in nature. They adapt to and accomodate change as a normalevent. Such systems are diverse and flexible, and therefore resilient, i.e.they actively respond to learned experience which facilitates their adaptibility,and ultimately, evolution. In this way, the system is able to accomodateand adapt to change, and regenerate (Lister, April 24, 1998).

    Enlarged decision-making contexts. Decision-making for sustainabledevelopment cannot be made in isolation by one sector of civil society,including governments. It requires new levels of integrated decision-makingthat brings together natural and social scientists with public policy practitionersand non-governmental organizations. Transdisciplinary dialogues are neededwhere a multiplicity of legitimate perspectives can be expressed, and wherepublic policy questions on sustainable development and their attendant moral,aesthetic and valuation questions are addressed (Dale, April 26, 1998).

    Equity must accomodate multiple and complex realities, which emergefrom a globality that includes different realities of place (as in differentcontinents), of time (as in different generations) and of form (as in differentlife forms). It must encompass not only the visible outcome of process butthe process itself, be it as formulated as (some) decision-making processescan be or as unformulated as (some) aspirations can be. Ultimately, equityis about the sharing of power (Vainio-Matilla, March 18, 1998), and it maywell be, equity cannot be actively planned for, but rather is an emergentproperty of diversity at all levels in decision-making (Dale, July 25, 1998).

    Feedback loops. Since complex systems have no natural boundaries,it is conceivable that human activity systems could badly misjudge whichare the pertinent components or parameters to consider in their decisionmakingprocesses. The ability of decision-makers to be able to effectively respondto negative feedback from ecological systems, and any linked pathologicalpositive feedback from human activity systems is critical to sustainabledevelopment (Brown, forthcoming).

    Meaningful Information for sustainable development decision-makingis dependent upon integrative modes of inquiry between the natural and socialsciences, as well as multiple sources of evidence. Since information isconstantly evolving as living systems evolve, its integrity is vitally dependentupon the ability of human activity systems to perceive and respond to negativefeedback loops, particularly in the area of natural resource managementpolicy development (Dale, April 26, 1998). Ecological information must beincorporated into management practices and policy decisions (Wiens 1997).

    Humility. Human systems are not apart from, but rather a partof natural systems. Life and nature are bigger and more powerful than anyforce humans could ever bring to bear, and it is foolish to thing it couldever be otherwise. Humility means seeing yourself, your knowledge, yourinstitutions, your systems of governance as vitally interdependent withthe natural world, recognizing our place as one among among many. Ratherthan believing that humans can manage their "environment", itmeans recognizing that the only thing we can manage is our behaviour andimpacts within the environment. Greater sentinency does not justify dominion,but rather, greater responsibility (Geuer, forthcoming).

    Integrity (Shaelagh, your brilliance is needed here)

    Limits. Just as natural systems are subject to biophysical limits,all human activity systems are subject to scale, that is, the bigger theybecome, the more ecological space humans occupy,, ultimately leading tocollapse if they exceed biophysical limits.The ultimate limit on human activitiesis, therefore, the biosphere. While these limits may be more plastic asa result of technology and human ingenuity, they are ultimately finite (Sims,forthcoming). It may well be that the more human activity systems co-evolvewith natural systems that these biophysical limits are reached more quickly(Dale, July 21, 1998).

    Multiple contexts. Human beings are very context dependent. Inour attempts to make sense of our world, we are heavily influenced by individualperceptions and mindscapes, dominant socio-economic paradigms and prevailingmyths and metaphors. Personal and collective awareness of these multiplecontexts and their influence on maintaining the staus quo and acting asbarriers to new thought, innovation and creativity, and making them explicityis key to accepting and understanding new information (Dale, April 26, 1998).

    Multiple perspectives (Christine, please insert your shortenedversion)

    Mutuality. Health, or functional existence, depends upon a facultyof the organism for mutual synthesis with the environment (Williamson andPearse 1980). All human activity systems are subjectively interdependentand embedded in natural systems, and both are engaged in an overall mutualprocess. Both influence and are influenced by each other (Dale, April 26,1998).

    Precautionary principle. Rather than await certainty, regulatorsshould act in anticipation of any potential environmental harm in orderto prevent it. Given the uncertainty and difficulty of predicting the natureof the limits of the coevolutionary human-nature system, it would be prudentfor human activity systems to live below rather than at the penultimatebiophysical limits. Decisions concerning the appropriate scale and natureof human activity systems, the subsequent space our systems occupy at theselimits can only be made in enlarged decision-making contexts, given thecomplex values involved in such decision-making.

    Resilience is the ability of a system (say an ecosystem or a systemof governance) to adapt to change while maintaining critical aspects ofits original condition or function. If we wish to use the concept of resilience,we must be explicit about the criteria we value and think is important tomaintain, even as conditions change (perhaps, for example, total biodiversity,democratic proces, etc.) (Middleton, April 13, 1998)

    Scale. Sustainable development impacts and problems present themselveson multiples scales, and mismatches between scale of problem and scale ofhuman reaction can result in inappropriate policy responses. We have todevelop operationally acceptable ways of scanning across scales by expandingour perceptual,analytic and planning horizons, and organize our policy responsesaround the multiple scales found in natural systems (Pinter, April 2, 1998).Efforts must be made to adjust the scales of management to those of naturalprocesses (Wiens 1997). The impacts of multiple scales can only be addressedthrough the implementation of environmental measures at a domestic jurisdictionallevel appropriate to the source and scope of the problem and appropriateto effectiveness in achieving objectives (subsidiarity). Where there aresignificant transborder impacts, there should be international cooperativeefforts (Pinter, April 2, 1998), or nested levels of decision-making (Pope,April 15, 1998).

    A Systems Approach is a way of trying to understand and activelylearn from complexity by studying whole living systems and their interconnectedness,for example, social, economic and ecological. It is a pluralistic and inclusiveset of approaches and associated methods for problem-solving, based on theperspective of human and natural systems as complex, dynamic, resilient,and adaptive. The acceptance of uncertainty as an inherent quality of livingsystems is central to a systems approach (Lister, April 24, 1998).

    Triangulation, that is, use of multiple methods, procedures and/ortheories to converge on what should or can be done for the complex issuein question. We require both conventional and novel analytic methods totriangulate from as many directions as possible on what we could be doingbetter in the face of an issue whose empirical merits remain unknown, notagreed upon, or both (Roe 1998).

    Values. Sustainable development is a normative and ethical concept(Robinson et al. 1989), thus, values are central to any dialogue and resolutionof issues. Since these values are deeply embedded in a culture of symbolism,institutions, and religious perspectives, they collectively influence decision-makingat all levels (Pinter, February 8, 1997). Making the plurality and diversityof values explicit through values-based thinking is critical to sustainabledevelopment dialogue (Dale, April 26, 1998).

    Ann

    In memory of my beloved Daniel James Frazer, who died on May 10, 1998. He leaves to mourn so many who loved him dearly for his gentleness, his brilliance that never saw the light of day, his wonderful integrity,and finally, his courage. God be with you our Daniel. May you be runningwith Mamut on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

     


     

    Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998
    From: Ann Dale
    Subject: Principles for Decision-Making

     

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    The last principle for sustainable development decision-making is integrity.

    Integrity. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity,resilience and beauty of natural and human systems. It is wrong when ittends otherwise (adapted from Leopold 1949).

    With the pervasive silence I have encountered since my last email message,with the exception of two people, I am assuming that everyone is in agreementwith the guiding framework that we have now developed, based on reconciliationof the three imperatives. Flowing from these principles, I now propose thefollowing strategic objectives.

    Strategic Objectives

    1. It is imperative that all government policies, planning and programsintegrate ecological information into their development processes, takinginto account the following interrelationships in order to be both more effectiveand minimize the likelihood of subsequent negative surprises.

    2. All government policies, planning and programs must start to replaceshort-term economic incentives with incentives that support the restorationand maintenance of ecosystem resilience, one by-product being long-termeconomic sustainability (Holling and Meefe 1996). This imperative also involvespolicies for full cost pricing, that is, transferring environmental coststo prices paid by firms and consumers.

    3. Governments must develop ways for individuals to innovate and learnand allow them to do so. An example is the application of actively adaptiveenvironment management approaches, where policies become hypothesis andmanagement actions become the experiments to test those hypothesis (Holling1978; Walters 1986; Lee 1993; Gunderson et al. 1995). The principles ofadaptive management are to consider a variety of plausible alternativesabout the world; consider a variety of possible strategies; favour actionsthat are robust to uncertainties; hedge; favour actions that are informative;probe and experiment; monitor results; update assessments and modify policyaccordingly; and favour actions that are reversible (Ludwig et al 1993)

    4. Governments must engage people as active partners in the process ofpolicy and the subsequent development of public policy.

    5. Governments must develop local partnerships among broad constituenciesthat all stand to gain or lose together from good or poor resource management(Holling and Meefe 1996).

    6. Governments must develop systems of governance that can accommodatethe time, place and space phenomena of natural systems by achieving greatersynergy between ecological boundaries and socio-political boundaries, suchas the ecological framework developed by Agriculture Canada. Within thisoverall common framework, sectoral departments then define their specificgoals, targets, and timetables for implementation.

    I am arguing that this guiding reconciliation framework across government,is not imprisoned in engaging the dominant socio-economic paradigms andthe vested interests that work to preserve them within the corridors ofpower, but rather transcends the dominant paradigms and provides a new "rationale"that could be eminently defensible to the wider publics, rather than engagingin protracted values debate over which paradigm is morally superior, andthe resultant paralysis of inaction that occurs as opposite sides use uncertaintyand differing scientific perspectives to argue their case. This is not tosay that values are not central to this reconciliation framework, but rather,their articulation and agreement on what is important to civil society emergesfrom the reconciliation process itself. As well, equity may well be an emergentproperty of reconciliation, if diversity is accepted as a fundamental organizingprinciple for civil society. Such a framework, however, must be accompaniedby new ways of organizing within government, particularly with respect topolicy development, to lead to appropriate actions for implementation ina timely fashion before we reach irreversible thresholds.

    Following any final comments you may have on the above, I will then goon to describe a new model for opening up the policy development process,followed by a framework for governance. I will then apply this new frameworkto the case study on the collapse of the Atlantic Cod fishery and see howthe model would have made a difference, perhaps, in the eventual outcome.

    I would appreciate hearing from my co-researchers, as I enter the homestretchof this research. I would like to thank Shealagh Pope again for her excellentsuggestion to apply whatever we are doing to a concrete case study, thereby"grounding" our models in reality.

    Ann

    In memory of my beloved son, Daniel James Frazer, who diedon May 10, 1998. He leaves to mourn so many who loved him dearly for his gentleness, his brilliance that never saw the light of day, his wonderfulintegrity, and finally, his courage. God be with you our Daniel. May you be running with Mamut on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

     


     

    Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998
    From: Dale S. Rothman
    Subject: A few comments and a couple of references

     

    Up One

    Hi All,

    In my end of the year catch-up, I have finally sat down to read the recentemail on the dialogue. As my following comments will show, it has once againconfirmed my belief that reading widely, even seemingly unrelated pieces,can provide some real insight.

    First, the more mundane. On the issue of the Atlantic Cod collapse, youraise a number of important points related to the voices that were heardin the debates before and after the collapse. On that I think you couldexpand on is that of the local, coastal fisherman. In a wonderful piece,Barbara Neis (Neis, B. (1992) 'Fishers' Ecological Knowledge and Stock Assessmentin Newfoundland,' in Newfoundland Studies 8(2): 155-178.) describes howgreater use of local knowledge could have made a significant differencein the management of the fishery. Secondly, reflecting back on the ideaof Adaptive Management, I would also suggest that you consider how whathas been learned from the Atlantic collapse could be used to avoid futureones, e.g. the Pacific salmon.

    Now, the more wide ranging, but perhaps less optimistic comments. A fewweeks ago, I read Deborah Tannen's new book, "The Argument Culture:from Debate to Dialogue". In it she examines various aspects of oursociety, from politics to law to the media. She tries to get at what haslead us to such an adversarial culture, in particular examining our useof language (she is a socio-linguist). What she has to say is much morerelevant to the US, but is certainly also applicable to Canada to a lesserextent.

    The second piece of reading, which I am currently in the midst of, isBarbara Kingsolver's new work - "The Cottonwood Bible". This storyfollows a missionary family from Georgia, which is in Congo during the timeof its initial independence and civil war (circa 1960). The thing that sticksout as relevant here is her depiction of how the local villagers view theidea of elections as ways to make decisions. They can't seem to understandhow a decision can be made by a vote of 51% vs. 49%; this can only leavehalf of the people pretty unhappy. Rather, their traditional methods involveextensive dialogue until agreement is reached. Of course this may not bepractical in all cases in our society, but could the notion of 'winner-takes-all'be at the root of some of the concerns we have expressed relating to lackof participation and trust?

    Anyway, I hope that everybody is having a pleasant holiday season. Incase you are wondering, I am still settling into being back in the US. Ifind it fairly provincial in a number of ways after my 3 years in Canada,but I must admit that sunny and 15 degrees C is not bad for a December afternoon.

    Dale

     


     

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