Ecosystem-based management (EBM) approaches that are appearing in decision-making processes traditionally dominated by economic interests are likely to govern EBM knowledge in a more symbolic than substantive manner, by, for example, emphasizing environmental impact assessments. This article analyzes the development of a more holistic EBM approach for decision-making processes that emerged in the Mainport of Rotterdam, a context traditionally dominated by economic interests. Our historical analysis suggests that holistic EBM knowledge governance was facilitated by factors that included: informal agreements, societal stakeholders who urged for environmental law to be implemented, independent intermediaries who solved deadlocks within the decision-making process, and innovative civil servants that proposed procedural adjustments of the decision-making process that consisted of a transparent process architecture, joint fact-finding, and long-term monitoring. Although these efforts resulted in an overall successful approach, the full potential of EBM knowledge governance has not been realized yet. Based on EBM literatures we propose further decision-making tools that could have improved the approach.

Complex decision-making, Ecosystem-based management, Effectiveness, Harbor development, Knowledge governance,
Ocean and Coastal Management
Department of Public Administration

Giebels, D, & Teisman, G.R. (2015). Towards ecosystem-based management for Mainports: A historical analysis of the role of knowledge in the development of the Rotterdam harbor from 1827 to 2008. Ocean and Coastal Management, 108, 39–51. doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2014.11.008