Reconcling Stakeholder demands by enacting a post normal approach within nutrient governance

Neil Powell12 , Thao Do1, Olle Olsson3, Maria Osbeck3, Gerald Schwarz4, Andrzej Tonderski5, Andis Zilans6, Kristina Veidemane6 and Karin Tonderski7


1 Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development (SWEDESD)

Uppsala University, Sweden

2Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

3Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

4 Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, Germany

5 Pominno Ltd, Gdynia, Poland

6University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia

7University of Linköping, Linköping, Sweden


Understanding how to govern nutrient emissions from the 634 sub basins[1] that make up the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) has baffled policy and scientific communities for decades. Nutrient governance is characterised by high degrees of uncertainty, controversy and power brokering, conditions which tend to be amplified with climate change. These conditions are referred to as post-normal situtions in which facts are uncertain, complexity is the norm, values are in dispute, stakes are high and decisions are urgent. In spite of this, they are still considered to be objectively knowable by both the policy and the scientific community. As a response, a post-normal scientific approach has been enacted to reconcile stakeholder demands and support innovative governance reconfigurations in the BSR, by drawing on insights emerging from the four case studies in the BONUS-MIRACLE project, including Berze (Latvia), Helge (Sweden), Reda (Poland) and Selke (Germany). In all the case studies, a systemic issue was identified and deployed as a key vehicle to orchestrate the social learning process and create a platform for co-learning and deliberation among a diverse set of stakeholders. In so doing, it can arguably infuse both a systemic and intersubjective cognizance of existing governance configurations and those under development.

[1] According to Hannerz (2006),  there are 634 sub basins larger that 6 km2.