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Enacting shared responsibility in biosecurity governance: insights from adaptive governance

Andrea Rawluk, School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, University of Melbourne
Ruth Beilin, School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, University of Melbourne
Stephanie Lavau, School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, University of Melbourne


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Amidst an increasingly complex global environment of trade and travel, with heightened concerns for the unintended or deliberate spread of species and diseases, biosecurity is a key policy goal in many parts of the world. In Australia, there is concern that invasive species (plants, animals, and diseases) enter, spread, and establish, threatening local industries such as agriculture, as well as human health and biodiversity. Shared responsibility for biosecurity is a recent policy direction that has gained great traction but requires improved conceptual and practical clarity in how local citizens are co-opted into or experience biosecurity programs. In this paper, we interrogate the framing and enactment of shared responsibility for biosecurity, propose a repositioning informed by attributes of adaptive governance that involves a clearer structuring of partnerships, and illustrate this through a case example of network-based, passive surveillance. This repositioning is organized around four pillars, where biosecurity is a part of dynamic cosmopolitan territories; enacted through diverse networks; integrating with existing types of knowledge, concerns, and practices; and forming networks of partnership. We consider implications for adaptive governance more generally, centering on structure, power, and decision making.

Key words

adaptive governance; biosecurity; citizens in partnership; shared responsibility; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087