Deliberating the potential of ecosystem science to improve mainstreaming of environmental priorities across marine and coastal policy and decision-making

Holtby, Rachel (2023) Deliberating the potential of ecosystem science to improve mainstreaming of environmental priorities across marine and coastal policy and decision-making. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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The marine and coastal environment is in serious decline due to overexploitation and fragmented governance and decision-making. This research examines the potential of ecosystem science (ESc) to improve environmental mainstreaming. Drawing from a review of wider mainstreaming literature, a conceptual framework and narrative characterising mainstreaming within different temporal and dynamic pathways is developed and tested using ESc. This framework reveals that individual ESc concepts alone have limited mainstreaming potential. However, if ESc concepts, such as natural capital, ecosystem services, nature-based solutions, net gain, and ecosystem-based management are considered holistically, involving interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches, there is improved environmental mainstreaming potential. The primary research involved two rounds of one-to-one semi-structured interviews with local and policy participants, and a solution-based interdisciplinary focus group. These collectively illuminated the lived experiences of community, scientific, and political actors. The results show that the shared and connected nature of the environment is further illuminated through ESc helping to capture the value of nature. However, areas of concern emerged relating to language and values, including excessive commodification of nature if governed incorrectly. There was also concern that current governance is disconnected across sectors in siloes and not sufficient to make joined-up decisions about the marine and coastal, and adjoining terrestrial, environments. Therein, this research highlighted the need for improved connection and collaboration roles to address this within new ways of shared working. The results also highlight the need for greater inclusion and engagement in ESc knowledge development and diffusion; collaborative decision-making at smaller local scales, with nested plans supported by the government on larger challenges; and increasing social values to further include diverse perspectives outside of the traditional environmental economics primacy associated with ESc thus far. It is argued, from these results, this would lead to more resilient and more integrated outcomes for society, and the environment.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: governance, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, marine social science, natural capital approach
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 16 May 2023 11:45
Last Modified: 16 May 2023 12:00

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