Stakeholder engagement in the co-production of knowledge for environmental decision-making


The production of science has generally been understood as primarily a technical endeavor, conducted by a narrow group of knowledge “experts” who ostensibly bring legitimacy and rigor to the process. In recent decades, the speed with which global environmental change has unfolded has pressured the scientific community to engage a broader set of actors in the production of knowledge to inform decision-making. Indeed, calls for societal engagement in the “co-production” of knowledge have proliferated in environmental and natural resource governance, climate adaptation, and land system science scholarship, among many others. We conduct a systematic review of scholarship focused on collaborative engagement between scientists and decision-makers to better understand the nature of stakeholder engagement in science production processes. We analyze collaborative knowledge generation within research that conceptualizes it as co-production and transdisciplinarity. We explore how stakeholders are defined, the processes by which stakeholders are engaged, the societal impacts associated with stakeholder engagement, and the barriers and enablers to stakeholder engagement. We uncover a diverse body of scholarship from around the world that cuts across many environmental issues, and highlights challenges in stakeholder engagement related to unequal and unmitigated power relations. We conclude with a set of recommendations related to how researchers engage in and report on stakeholder engagement in co-production processes.

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