Deliberation as a Catalyst for Reflexive Environmental Governance

Stream: Panel 26 - Environmental Politics: Ecological Democracy 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm

Abstract

Reflexivity has long been accepted as a central virtue in environmental governance. Ecological or ecosystemic reflexivity involves the capacity of social-ecological systems to reconstruct themselves in response to reflection on their performance. Drawing on theories of deliberative democracy, we argue that deliberation is central to reflexive governance, mainly because it can resolve many if not most of the sometimes contradictory claims that are made in the literature about its drivers. We take four key dimensions along which reflexivity may be sought, each of which features a binary that puts two plausible drivers of reflexivity in tension with one another: (i) sources of knowledge (public participation versus expertise); (ii) composition of public discourse (diversity versus consensus); (iii) institutional architecture (polycentricity versus centralization); (iv) institutional dynamics (flexibility versus stability). In each case, we demonstrate that deliberative ideas can resolve the tension between the two plausible drivers of reflexivity.

Authors

John S. Dryzek, University of Canberra
John Dryzek is Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Centenary Professor in the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. Before moving to the University of Canberra he was Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Australian Research Council Federation Fellow at the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, former Head of the Departments of Political Science at the Universities of Oregon and Melbourne and of the Social and Political Theory program at ANU, and former editor of the Australian Journal of Political Science.

Jonathan Pickering (Presenter), University of Canberra
Jonathan joined the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance in 2015. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Professor John Dryzek on his Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship project, ‘Deliberative Worlds: Democracy, Justice and a Changing Earth System’.

He completed his PhD in philosophy at the Australian National University, based in the Centre for Moral, Social and Political Theory and graduating in 2014. His thesis explored opportunities for reaching a fair agreement between developing and developed countries in global climate change negotiations.