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Andy Stirling - nexus methods (RGS 2016)

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"Meeting ‘Nexus’ Challenges: from policy connections to political transformations" - presentation given at the Royal Geographic Society/Institute for British Geographers conference on 'Nexus Thinking', August 2016.

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Andy Stirling - nexus methods (RGS 2016)

  1. 1. www.steps-centre.org/ www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/ www.multicriteria-mapping.org www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/people/peoplelists/person/7513 Andy Stirling SPRU & STEPS Centre University of Sussex Chair’s plenary lecture for Royal Geographical Society / Institute for British Geographers conference on ‘Nexus Thinking’ Ondaatje Theatre, Imperial College, London Tuesday 30th August 2016 Meeting ‘Nexus’ Challenges: from policy connections to political transformations
  2. 2. What is ‘the Nexus’? food water energy
  3. 3. What is ‘the Nexus’? food water energy Substantive imperatives for ‘joined up policy…? … or instrumental pressure for policy justification?
  4. 4. What is ‘the Nexus’? climate development food environment security globalisation energy population migration urbanisation water
  5. 5. water climate development food environment security globalisation energy population migration urbanisation 1: ‘NEXUS THINKING’ SPANS ACROSS DIFFERENT SILOS What is ‘the Nexus’?
  6. 6. Phenonema Under Scrutiny •social and material world •“systems” and “contexts” •“scales” and “levels” •“actors” and “networks” •“values” and “interests” •“frames” and “narratives” •“causes” and “effects” •processes and relations •“knowledges”,“incertitudes” •“positives” and “negatives” •“structures” and “agents” •“actions” and “reactions” •“imaginations” and “visions” •“metrics” and ”indices”
  7. 7. cost-benefit analysis risk assessment decision analysis multiattribute utility theory technology assessment life cycle analysis optimisation modelling Bayesian networks extended accounting data mining delphi methods Quantitative Culture Qualitative Culture No shortage of candidate ‘Nexus methods’ scenario workshops focus groups participatory appraisal stakeholder deliberation ethnomethodology collaborative design capabilities assessment strategic appraisal action research cooperative research study groups
  8. 8. Energy regulation: most mature, sophisticated comparative analysis… A Key Common Problem: Concealed Ambiguity
  9. 9. 0.001 0.1 10 1000 externality’: cUS/kWh (after Sundqvist et al, 2005)low RISK high coal oil gas nuclear hydro wind solar biomass Energy regulation: most mature, sophisticated comparative analysis… A Key Common Problem: Concealed Ambiguity
  10. 10. 0.001 0.1 10 1000 coal oil gas nuclear hydro 21 wind solar biomass n = ‘externality’: cUS/kWh (after Sundqvist et al, 2005) minimum maximum25% 75% low RISK high Energy regulation: most mature, sophisticated comparative analysis… A Key Common Problem: Concealed Ambiguity
  11. 11. coal oil gas nuclear hydro 36 20 wind 18 solar 11 biomass 22 31 21 16 n = …‘sound science’, ‘evidence based’ Nexus analyses justify many policies Energy regulation: most mature, sophisticated comparative analysis… A Key Common Problem: Concealed Ambiguity
  12. 12. Equally true of qualitative research, but this is better appreciated All Quantification is Qualitatively Framed
  13. 13. Equally true of qualitative research, but this is better appreciated 2: ‘NEXUS THINKING’ Framing Applies in Every Setting and Level TRANSCENDS ‘PLACE’, ‘SPACE’ & ‘SCALE’
  14. 14. under-determined realities Framing ‘the Nexus’ Insights well known in geography: -relational ontologies -constructivist epistemologies -nonrepresentational theories … But conventionally recognised only in separated academic silos, often mostlyconcerned with critique … … and more preoccupied with ‘how to know?’ than ‘what to do?’
  15. 15. ‘system’ ‘focus’ under-determined realitiespicture of problem/solution Framing ‘the Nexus’
  16. 16. ‘scope’ ‘system’ ‘focus’ under-determined realitiespicture of problem/solution Framing ‘the Nexus’
  17. 17. ‘scope’ ‘system’ ‘focus’ ‘cause’ ‘effect’ under-determined realitiespicture of problem/solution Framing ‘the Nexus’
  18. 18. environment‘scope’ ‘system’ ‘focus’ subjective framing ‘effect’ under-determined realities ‘cause’view 1 picture of problem/solution Framing ‘the Nexus’
  19. 19. environment ‘system’ under-determined realitiesdiverse picturesplural frames ‘effect’ ‘cause’ ‘scope’ ‘focus’ view 2 view 1 contending knowledges and values Framing ‘the Nexus’
  20. 20. plural frames ‘system’ ‘cause’ ‘effect’ under-determined realitiesdiverse pictures ‘scope’ ‘focus’ view 3 view 1 view 2 contending knowledges and values Framing ‘the Nexus’
  21. 21. view 4 plural frames ‘system’ ‘cause’ ‘effect’ under-determined realitiesdiverse pictures ‘scope’ ‘focus’ contending knowledges and values view 1 view 2 view 3 Framing ‘the Nexus’
  22. 22. view 4 plural frames ‘system’ ‘cause’ ‘effect’ under-determined realitiesdiverse pictures ‘scope’ ‘focus’ view 1 view 2 view 3 Framing ‘the Nexus’ different notions of ‘what to do?’ 3: ‘NEXUS THINKING’ ENTANGLES ‘OBJECTS’ & ‘SUBJECTS’
  23. 23. view 4 plural frames ‘system’ ‘cause’ ‘effect’ under-determined realitiesdiverse pictures ‘scope’ ‘focus’ contending knowledges and values Framing ‘the Nexus’ incum bents view 2 view 3 view 1 “THE NEXUS” “THE NEXUS SOLUTION”
  24. 24. incum bents power in knowledge ‘system’ ‘cause’ ‘effect’ under-determined realities academic government local people diverse pictures ‘scope’ ‘focus’ contending knowledges and values “THE NEXUS” Framing ‘the Nexus’ 4: ‘NEXUS THINKING’ HIGHLIGHTS POWER AND POLITICS IN KNOWLEDGE “THE NEXUS” “THE NEXUS SOLUTION”
  25. 25. fundamental natural laws biophysical environments societies & economies cultures & institutions Science (of all kinds!) is a key means by which to remind “the real world” of politics about the “real real world” of everything else The Political Conditioning of Nexus Thinking
  26. 26. KNOWLEDGE PRACTICES fundamental nature biophysical environments societies & economies cultures & instituions But knowledge is produced by people, with cultures, pursuing practices in institutions … in political ways so knowledge is jointly shaped to reflect both social and natural orders The Political Conditioning of Nexus Thinking
  27. 27. KNOWLEDGE PRACTICES fundamental nature biophysical environments societies & economies INSTITUTIONS This leads to a paradox What is inside… … is also outside The Political Conditioning of Nexus Thinking KNOWLEDGE PRACTICES
  28. 28. biophysical environments societies & economies INSTITUTIONS This leads to a paradox What is inside… … is also outside … as in a Klein Bottle, knowledge is on the inside and the outside of human action KNOWLEDGE PRACTICES The Political Conditioning of Nexus Thinking KNOWLEDGE PRACTICES fundamental nature
  29. 29. knowledge practices biophysical environments INSTITUTIONS KNOWLEDGE PRACTICES The Political Conditioning of Nexus Thinking 5: ‘NEXUS THINKING’ UNDERSCORES CO-CONSTITUTING OF KNOWLEDGE AND ACTION
  30. 30. Constituting knowledges and actions are founded in equal social relations Strongly resisted by elite science and incumbent governance institutions Sustainability As Political Action Driven by decades of collective struggle by grassroots social movements Understandings of new hopeful visions of alternative directions for progress social equality human wellbeing ecological integrity
  31. 31. Sustainability (& Nexus) as Political not Technical Meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs Brundtland (1987) codified challenge for elite institutions of global governance Provide normative guides for accountability in driving directions of social progress Emphasising consistently throughout, importance of: “effective citizen participation” and “greater democracy” environmental integrity social equality human wellbeing SUSTAINABLILITY
  32. 32. Even the most specific environmental issues, all initially vigorously resisted pesticides…pesticides… asbestos…pesticides… asbestos… radiation…pesticides… asbestos… radiation… lead…pesticides… asbestos… radiation… lead… carcinogens…pesticides… asbestos… radiation… lead… carcinogens… CFCs…pesticides… asbestos… radiation… lead… carcinogens… CFCs… EDCs… Sustainability (& Nexus) as Political not Technical
  33. 33. And innovations now mainstream were initially excluded and suppressed organic farming…organic farming… wind turbines…organic farming… wind turbines… super-efficiency…organic farming… wind turbines… super-efficiency… closed cycle production… Constituting problems & solutions both of Sustainabilty & the Nexus depend on asserting alternative knowledges and visions Sustainability (& Nexus) as Political not Technical
  34. 34. 2015: Sustainability as Care: “leave no one behind” SDGs offer political ratchets and pivots for collective action & democratic challenge
  35. 35. 2015: Sustainability as Care: “leave no one behind” In this key normative tradition where it emerged, ‘nexus thinking’ can help illuminate, enable and render accountable, a complexity and multiplicity of contexts, perspectives and possibilities
  36. 36. In this key normative tradition where it emerged, ‘nexus thinking’ can help illuminate, enable and render accountable, a complexity and multiplicity of contexts, perspectives and possibilities ocean “eco cities” carbon capture reorganised services offshore windnuclear power marine energy bioenergy grassroots renewables centralised solar eg: alternative infrastructures for ‘the’ zero carbon transition … in branching social and technological innovation pathways … choice is about democratic politics, not managerial control Sustainability and Nexus Thinking
  37. 37. But Nexus Rhetorics also bring Another Challenge If seen as technical and singular, rather than political and plural… Nexus thinking can become about control (rather than care); narrowing understandings, closing down choices, justifying power Simplified instrumental assessment… eg: -singular ‘bottom line’ -‘simple solutions’ -‘sound science’ -evidence based policy Subverting appreciations for complexity, uncertainty, context-sensitivity, multiple framings and diverse options
  38. 38. If seen as technical and singular, rather than political and plural… Nexus thinking can become about control (rather than care); narrowing understandings, closing down choices, justifying power eg: -securitisation -nuclear power -big pharma -IP intense GM Incumbent institutions & technologies… But Nexus Rhetorics also bring Another Challenge Subverting appreciations for complexity, uncertainty, context-sensitivity, multiple framings and diverse options
  39. 39. If seen as technical and singular, rather than political and plural… it can become about control (rather than care); narrowing understandings, closing down choices, justifying incumbent power Politics reduced to risk: from ends: strategic choices between visions to means: detailed regulation of modalities Singular top down visions for ‘the transition’ - models - missions - handbooks - manuals - “road maps” But Nexus Rhetorics also bring Another Challenge Subverting appreciations for complexity, uncertainty, context-sensitivity, multiple framings and diverse options
  40. 40. If seen as technical and singular, rather than political and plural… it can become about control (rather than care); narrowing understandings, closing down choices, justifying incumbent power Politics reduced to risk: from ends: strategic choices between visions to means: detailed regulation of modalities Anthropocene planetary management “control variables of the Earth” “non-negotiable” “absolutely no uncertainty” … “no compromise” humanity as a “control force” But Nexus Rhetorics also bring Another Challenge Subverting appreciations for complexity, uncertainty, context-sensitivity, multiple framings and diverse options
  41. 41. If seen as technical and singular, rather than political and plural… it can become about control (rather than care); narrowing understandings, closing down choices, justifying incumbent power Politics reduced to risk: from ends: strategic choices between visions to means: detailed regulation of modalities Climate geoengineering maintaining “optimal Holocene conditions” But Nexus Rhetorics also bring Another Challenge Subverting appreciations for complexity, uncertainty, context-sensitivity, multiple framings and diverse options
  42. 42. From Rhetorics to Practice Affirm key insights and qualities of ‘Nexus thinking’ discussed here… 1 ‘nexus thinking’ spans across different academic and policy silos 2 ‘nexus thinking’ is framed in ways that transcend place, space and scale 3 ‘nexus thinking’ means recognizing subjects are entangled in objects 4 ‘nexus thinking’ highlights politics and power in knowledge 5 ‘nexus thinking’ enacts co-constituting of knowledge and action … ways of knowing are kinds of doing
  43. 43. INPUTS (aspects taken into account within practice of research or appraisal) problems, options, pros / cons, issues, uncertainties, perspectives INPUTS (things that are taken into account) Pro blems, options, pros / cons, issues, uncertainties, perspectives narrow broad closing down opening up expert / analytic participatory / deliberative OUTPUTS (aspects that are conveyed outwards into wider discourse) ’Plural conditional’ conclusions… … if X then A … if Y then B … From Rhetorics to Practice A multiplicity of practical ‘nexus methods’ can help resist closure … helping enable collective action in long tradition of sustainability
  44. 44. narrow broad closing down opening up expert / analytic participatory / deliberative decision analysis INPUTS OUTPUTS sustainability safety impacts From Rhetorics to Practice A multiplicity of practical ‘nexus methods’ can help resist closure … helping enable collective action in long tradition of sustainability
  45. 45. narrow broad closing down opening up expert / analytic participatory / deliberative citizen’s juries INPUTS OUTPUTS From Rhetorics to Practice A multiplicity of practical ‘nexus methods’ can help resist closure … helping enable collective action in long tradition of sustainability
  46. 46. narrow broad closing down opening up expert / analytic participatory / deliberative citizen’s juries participatory appraisal q-method scientometric mapping open space multicriteria mapping extended foresight citizen’s juries decision analysis stakeholder negotiation participatory sensitivity analysis cost-benefit analysis risk assessment interactive modelling structured interviews participant observation multi-site ethnographic- methods citizen’s juries consensus conference open hearings concurrent evidence critical narratives intervention futures PIPA plural photovoice system histories innovation histories INPUTS OUTPUTS From Rhetorics to Practice A multiplicity of practical ‘nexus methods’ can help resist closure … helping enable collective action in long tradition of sustainability
  47. 47. spot-the- narrative narrow broad closing down opening up expert / analytic participatory / deliberative citizen’s juries decision analysis participatory rural appraisal stakeholder negotiation q-method sensitivity analysis deliberative mapping scientometric mapping open space cost-benefit analysis risk assessmen t interactive modelling structured interviews narrative-based participant observation multi-site ethnographic- methods citizen’s juries consensus conference open hearings dissenting opinions multi-criteria mapping extended foresight stakeholder negotiation cost-benefit analysis risk assessment INPUTS OUTPUTS The Dance with Power Familiar political pressures act very strongly on Nexus methods to: justify decisions, command authority, foster trust, secure acceptance, manage blame
  48. 48. expert / analytic participatory / deliberative narrow broad closing down opening up participatory appraisal q-method open space multicriteria mapping participatory sensitivity analysis intervention futures PIPA plural photovoice system histories innovation histories INPUTS OUTPUTS Nexus thinking: from connecting to transforming… Rigour means actively balancing incumbent pressures for justification… the most important practical Nexus capability is enabling democratic struggle

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