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Drawing on experience from LEC UK, DEFRA and DTC A journey to find a methodology for environmental systems that actually achieves outcomes. Graham Harris.

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Presentation on theme: "Drawing on experience from LEC UK, DEFRA and DTC A journey to find a methodology for environmental systems that actually achieves outcomes. Graham Harris."— Presentation transcript:

1 Drawing on experience from LEC UK, DEFRA and DTC A journey to find a methodology for environmental systems that actually achieves outcomes. Graham Harris UTas, Centre for Environment and UoW SMART Infrastructure Facility

2 Taken from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) strategic plan This is what ecologists and research agencies (CSIRO) say they do! But we have an unspoken conundrum...... It doesn’t work!! It’s all about evidence and “settled science” “evidence-based” policy and “predict-act”

3 Plans and audit reports….. We can do (a lot) better Some local successes but overall decline in biodiversity Water quality not improving

4 Restoration? Mega-projects? Achieving outcomes is difficult. Evidence? – Success rates c. 10%; little better than chance – Well intentioned actions leading to perversion Problems with infrastructure projects, – Failure to deliver expected outcomes on budget – Also 60-70% of M&As also fail (Rio Tinto) Everything is on a path from somewhere, to….?? – So what are we restoring to what? – Can’t go back…. Conservation??.... Offsets?? So what is “strategy”? (Chia & Holt, 2009)

5 If you talk to the UK Environment Agency they want to know why, when they use the same programs of works and measures, they get different answers; and if they use different works and measures they often get the same answer?? Perverse outcomes…. even in life and the management of big companies! “it’s life Geoff, but not as you know it”

6 The myth of outcomes What are….? – Plans, strategies, scenarios, visions even? – The world is rife with uncertainty, contingency – The world is not Newtonian: we cannot go back What can we expect? What should we expect? New approach for non-stationarity

7 THE RISE OF HUMAN SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OVER 16Ky A lesson in Oxbridge PPE Development driven by science and technology; perverse outcomes visible through ICT, social media

8 Science and society 21 st Century Scientific method reveals axiomatic “laws” of Nature (process of abstraction – externalities) – Cause-effect deduced from axiomatic laws (remember Cartwright.... “ceteris paribus” laws) – “Predict-act” works, evidence and refutation drive new knowledge: strong inference. (evidence can be found) – “There and then” are the same as “here and now”. Stationarity – ergodicity (evidence is transportable) – Modernist, rationalist, realist, materialist worldview science, engineering, economics, management Physics envy, liberal humanism, sociology, economics – Market-based instruments, biodiversity offsets, TEEB – Risk assessments: CGE models, finance, the GFC – Theory, abstraction, universal rationality, strategy

9 The myth of models Uncertainty….. Prediction or Prophecy? Life is different – physics won’t do! Beven’s work on hydrological models (GLUE) Life is different and hydrology isn’t physics (Hauhs) Models make category errors – don’t include recursive relationships DON’T EVER REPLACE EMPIRICAL DATA WITH MODEL OUTPUTS!

10 Allenby & Sarewitz (2011) Level 1- low risk, technological fixes, largely isolated from environment and people Level 2 – manageable systemic risk, adaptive management, evidence Level 3 – complex, uncertain, “black swans”, recursive, complex, life, people, society, economics… the real world “Science” uses Level 1 (maybe 2) tools on level 3 problems and makes a category error

11 A&S level 3 problems What to do about spatially and temporally extensive, heterogeneous, adaptive (evolving), non-linear, contingent, emergent systems with people (life)? – Infrastructure, economies, companies, ecosystems?? Non-stationary, systemic risks, network failures, super- transients: cultures, beliefs, values (norms) – No controls, no replication, inability to “control” variances – “cause-effect” unclear… weak inference, induction – “There and then” is NOT the same as “here and now” But we still use “received” level 1 (maybe 2) modernist science and management – lack of critical thinking – Prediction? Planning? Strategy?


13 Post-Enlightenment Now dealing with perverse system-level externalities from value free “received” science and technology 1.Methodology for recursion which recognises choices and values (Mattessich 1978) 2.Modelling and abstraction challenge: new science, applied philosophy. (Casti 1992) 3.Governance, asymmetry, sub-politics, (Beck, 1992) values domain: higher level of work 4.Reflexive ethics and practical wisdom: “letting be” and phronesis (Hadot, 1995)

14 Systems methodology Mattessich (1978) argued that science – particularly the applied science of systems – is “structural-holistic, dynamic as well as instrumental” because it “not only emphasises the recorded insights of science but also stresses the entire process of doing science, as well as the holding and using of theories, of elaborating and eventually replacing them by better ones (his italics, Mattessich, p. 250). i.e. Choices of methodology and values are linked and are critical. There are ethical considerations particularly when dealing with systems

15 Not “atoms” but components Components have reflexive relationships with other components (Rosen, 1991) – Therefore there are both external and internal (system) drivers – the new physics (Crutchfield) – Purpose, meaning, intention?? (Philosophy) Causes beyond (above) the Material (Horrors!) Non-ergodic and non-stationary: new science – Systemic risks – non-Normal statistics (WEF 2012) – Meta-statistics and new kinds of experiment (Hauhs, Atmanspacher) – trajectories in space/time The role of time.... Development..... – Smolin and Charles Sanders Pierce And the role of chance – being “blind-sided” – Taleb, Chia FORGET PHYSICS ENVY FOR THE OLD PHYSICS

16 NF Semantics Syntax Rosen, 1991 encoding decoding observablestheory CAUSALCAUSAL INFERENCEINFERENCE When we do this we make choices and abstractions Newton made a choice! A THEORY OF MODELS: Casti (1992) A problem in applied philosophy for a new age

17 Recursive systems/networks developing new area: new science Information is buried in dynamic network structures Relationships (Rosen), signed and weighted digraphs – Little information on how this works in ecology or genetics (Wagner – robustness, evolvability): small world, power laws – structure  function related in real time Ecosystems (Ulanowicz) and genomes (Wagner) occupy small subset of all possible combinatorial configurations – we only see the persistent ones! – How much biodiversity is “enough”? What configuration? Fluidity, emergence, change, chance, heterogeneity – Information flows.....What evidence? How?? – Not computable at present (Crutchfield)


19 So how do we get back to something like this? Especially if we don’t know what we have lost – including the secondary compounds ALSO TILMAN ET AL HAVE RECENTLY SHOWN THAT THERE ARE HYSTERESIS EFFECTS

20 BiosphereAnthroposphere Complex Middle ground Biophysical constraints Thermodynamics Evolution Realist Scientific Approach Analytical tools “experts” Participatory tools “society” Sociology Economics Relativism Postmodernism Worldviews and semiotics Uncertainty Incomplete knowledge Narrative Engagement Decisions Risk Emergence Thresholds Regime shifts Evolved Human Constraints Values Beliefs THE KNOWLEDGE PROBLEMTHE COLLECTIVE ACTION PROBLEM Asymmetry in knowledge and values

21 BiosphereAnthroposphere Complex Middle ground Biophysical constraints Thermodynamics Evolution Realist Scientific Approach Analytical toolsParticipatory tools Sociology Economics Relativism Postmodernism Uncertainty Incomplete knowledge Narrative Engagement Decisions Risk EXPERTISE?? Evolved Human Constraints Values Beliefs INSTITUTIONS INFRASTRUCTURE constructed nature OUR PRESENT “SYSTEM” IS BASED ON A CATEGORY ERROR Asymmetry in knowledge and values Costs and benefits

22 Big changes Big changes since the 1980s – Move to individualism, markets, neo-liberalism – more to come? – Less regulation, more MBIs and incentives – difficult definitions Ulrich Beck (1992) The “risk society” – Sub-politics, reflexive modernisation – Governance, costs – benefits, compensating for the asymmetry Pervasive perversion! BUT WE’RE STILL USING A LEVEL 1/2 APPROACH

23 Artifactual structure (North) Effective use of institutions and 3 rd sector infrastructure (Ostrom) – meta-architecture Layered governance of information flows – Self organisation “bottom up” (UK River Trusts, NZ water forum) – arose spontaneously – Lack of review of incentives, market structures, institutional, legal (constitutive) design (NEMCO?) – So require innovation, subsidiarity, adaptation, fast failure, retain what works, try various options, Define the rules of the game and who can play – Enduring solutions not compliance-based but collaborative TACKLING THE ASYMMETRY

24 3 rd sector social infrastructure: NRM regions Collaborative federalism, reciprocal obligations, layered governance PUT SCIENCE AND VALUE-LADEN CHOICES IN THE HANDS OF THE USERS Information flows and governance to match the natural world Incentives, perversion, recursion

25 We need to think about our accounting methods DEFRA UK uses……. Each of these requires a different set of institutions and constitutive rules: ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL! Perverse incentives and misaligned institutions Requirement for “joined up” thinking INNOVATIONS??

26 From COSUST paper in proof – Bryan et al (2013) We have added layer upon layer of regulation and incentives over more than a century

27 Catchments have many, self organised, “paradoxical” properties (eco)systems are a “baroque” – diverse, redundant, heterogeneous HI-FREQ DATA DOES MORE THAN GIVE BETTER LOADING ESTIMATES NEW EVIDENCE

28 Spatial pattern is important even at this scale Work of Kate Orwin in Lancaster 50-60% of the variance in ecosystem services was due to the spatial arrangement of species IN EACH POT!

29 Forward indicators of perversion The science will never be settled, prediction not possible, uncertainty high, chance impacts – Leading indicators of system risks (Google and flu outbreaks, PRISM – social networks, web, email) To guide recursive dialogue and action – Non-aliased data: meta-statistics, dynamic, recursive – (existing data not fit for purpose... Unless relational) – Time series (hi res), networks, ε-machine analyses Pragmatic, instrumental experiments (Beck, 1992) – Transparency, values, engagement, involvement – Delegation, citizen science, expertise, sub-politics?

30 The policy arena has just lifted the level of the questions by an order of magnitude And they want evidence!! Forgive them for they know not what they do!!


32 New infrastructure/technologies Exploit the “high frequency wave of the future” (Kirchner) – monitor relationships Use web-based tools to put the science in the hands of the community e.g. OPAL UK e.g. iphones as sensors, GridStix, acoustic sensors, motes, GPS, RFD tags, cameras Distributed expertise, extend and democratize science – a new environmental Google? Pluralism trumps expertise when uncertain

33 “Joined-up” thinking and action Changing community and regional role – upwards into reflexive/recursive problems – Values domain – increasing complexity – Fluidity, people, networks, trust, ethics Meta-statistics, new science, data, concepts – Crowd-sourcing leading indicators, citizen science Innovation and changes in infrastructure – Legal, governance, markets, technology, perverse impacts Information to guide action and conservation – Values – easier to define in $$ for infrastructure – Difficult in environment – also perversion requires clear definition of original goal and costs/benefits

34 Bounded rationalism Decisions are not always rational……

35 Moral corruption Ethical problems if: – Distributed impacts – Fragmentation of agency – Temporal dispersion – Theoretical ineptitude – Uncertainty – Institutional vacuums Stephen Gardiner (2011)

36 Not moral relativism Some argue (Cilliers) that complexity implies moral relativism (no access to the “good” Platonic ideal of knowledge) Gardiner, Appiah, de Botton make strong ethical case for reviving old concepts (Aquinas) of “good” linking “is” and “ought” separated by the Enlightenment (Hume, 1739) Return to pre-Enlightenment ethics and values?

37 Raphael Sanzio “The school of Athens”, 1510-11, Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican palace, Rome

38 New (non-instrumental) ethics Lucas Introna: ethics of “letting be” – Recognition of other values and constraints Unlike Flyvbjerg, Chia sees “phronesis” as an Eastern non-instrumental (reflexive) practice vs

39 Not strategy but dwelling within Finding “win-wins” through Aristotelian ideas of phronesis, praxis, metis – Dwelling within: Purposiveness not purposefulness – Involvement NOT strategy – Michel Foucault's “technology of the self” (Pierre Hadot) – Pope Francis, Jesuits Enrichment of public discourse – Time to reflect how to be moral

40 Pulling the threads together Defined outcomes not expected. Perverse outcomes likely. No planning or strategy…. New systems methodology, forward indicators of perversion – new evidence, recursion Get the constitutive rules, institutions etc right and use them (re)flexibly and adaptively Dwelling within, moral corruption, non- instrumental (reflexive) ethics, phronesis RECURSION/PERVERSION REQUIRES A REFLECTIVE, POLITICALLY (AND PHILOSOPHICALLY) PRAGMATIC AND ETHICALLY ACCEPTABLE SYSTEMS METHODOLOGY

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