The governance of the Wadden Sea has to contend with a complex interplay of social and ecological systems. Social systems tend to be characterized by pluralism of - often conflicting - norms and values, and ecological systems are characterized by high complexity and natural and human-induced variability, leading to unpredictable and nonlinear behavior. This highly volatile situation challenges traditional forms of management as well as traditional ways of organizing knowledge for decision-making processes. Ecosystem-based management approaches have been developed to find more effective, holistic, and evidence-based strategies to deal with the challenges of complex socio-ecological systems. They also require another way of dealing with (scientific) knowledge, the way it is produced and applied. In this paper, from the perspective of ecosystem-based management, we define the specific principles that apply to the way knowledge is mobilized and applied within decision-making processes. We illuminate these principles by examining three empirical cases of ecosystem-based management within, or related to, the Wadden Sea area. Finally, we reflect upon our findings and elaborate on the extent to which our theoretical framework is capable of describing and assessing the interaction between knowledge and decision making within ecosystem-based management approaches.

Ecosystem-based Management, Governance Adaptive Management, Informed Decision Making Science, Policy Interface, Role of Knowledge
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2012.11.002, hdl.handle.net/1765/41459
Journal of Sea Research
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Giebels, D, van Buuren, M.W, & Edelenbos, J. (2013). Ecosystem-based management in the Wadden Sea: Principles for the governance of knowledge. Journal of Sea Research, 82, 176–187. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2012.11.002