The following is the established format for referencing this article:Muhl, E.-K., D. Armitage, K. Anderson, C. Boyko, S. Busilacchi, J. Butler, C. Cvitanovic, L. A. Faulkner, J. A. Hall, G. Martynuik, K. Paul-Burke, T. Swerdfager, H. Thorpe, and I. E. van Putten. 2023. Transitioning toward “deep” knowledge co-production in coastal and marine systems: examining the interplay among governance, power, and knowledge. Ecology and Society 28(4):17.
Knowledge co-production (KCP) is presented as an effective strategy to inform responses to complex coastal and marine social-ecological challenges. Co-production processes are further posited to improve research and decision outcomes in a wide range of problem contexts (e.g., biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation), for example, by facilitating social learning among diverse actors. As such, KCP processes are increasingly centered in global environment initiatives such as the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. However, KCP is not a panacea, and much uncertainty remains about its emergence and implementation, in particular, the manner in which broader governance contexts determine the interplay of knowledge, power, and decision-making. Three objectives guide our analysis: (1) to interrogate more fully the interplay among social relations of power, knowledge production practices, and the (colonial) governance contexts in which they are embedded; (2) to consider the challenges and limitations of KCP in particular places by drawing attention to key governance themes and their implications for achieving better outcomes; and (3) to work toward a fuller understanding of “deep KCP” that cautions against a tendency to view knowledge processes in coastal and marine governance settings as an instrumental or techno-managerial problem. A qualitative and reflective approach was used to examine multiple dimensions of the interplay of KCP, governance, and power in several marine and coastal contexts, including Canada, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. In particular, our analysis highlights the importance of: (1) recognizing diverse motivations that frame co-production processes; (2) the manner in which identities, positionality, and values influence and are influenced by governance contexts; (3) highlighting governance capacity with respect to spatial and temporal constraints; (4) institutional reforms necessary for KCP and the links to governance; and (5) the relationship between knowledge sharing, data sovereignty, and governance. We seek to encourage those involved in or considering co-production initiatives to engage carefully and critically in these processes and make co-production more than a box to tick.
How can we support just, equitable, and ecologically sustainable governance of coastal marine spaces and ecosystems? Knowledge co-production (KCP) is one way in which we seek to do this. Indeed, the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) has made an explicit call to co-create or co-develop science for future oceans and coastal systems, and the sustainable development agenda (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) and recent Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (2022) emphasize a need for processes of knowledge generation to improve social-ecological system understanding and to identify transformative solutions to coastal and marine challenges (see Mahajan et al. 2023, Mills et al. 2023).
We define KCP as the collaborative process of bringing a plurality of knowledge sources and types together to formulate and to address a defined problem and to build a systems-oriented understanding of that problem for an actionable outcome (Armitage et al. 2011, Norström et al. 2020). KCP offers one approach or pathway to catalyze effective governance and foster the sustainability of linked systems of people and nature. As such, KCP is increasingly implemented across the marine sciences (Karcher et al. 2022a, Mills et al. 2023), and the literature on KCP is also expanding rapidly (Bremer and Meisch 2017, Chambers et al. 2021, Schneider et al. 2021). This situation is not surprising. As Miller and Wyborn (2020:94) plainly put it, “Co-production is an inevitable and ubiquitous feature of modern societies. It cannot not happen.” Scientists and practitioners are thus gravitating toward KCP as a pathway to incorporate participatory and transdisciplinary approaches (Cash et al. 2006a, Lemos et al. 2018, Cvitanovic et al. 2019, Norström et al. 2020). In this regard, inclusion of Indigenous knowledge is central, although in ways that are respectful and that acknowledge the past privileging of dominant systems of knowledge (see Liboiron 2021). KCP is further hypothesized to facilitate social learning, thus making research more democratic through stakeholder and rightsholder (i.e., Indigenous) involvement (Djenontin and Meadow 2018, Steger et al. 2020).
However, the rapid expansion or “mainstreaming” of KCP (and allied concepts such as co-generation or co-creation of knowledge) is prone to processes that can perpetuate and co-opt (intentionally or not) past decision-making practices that marginalize particular communities and be naïve to relationships of power and knowledge that influence management and governance initiatives (see Turnhout et al. 2020, Muhl et al. 2022). There remains a significant gap in examinations of the interplay of governance, power, and KCP in several fundamental ways. For example, there is the manner in which KCP is hypothesized to lead to better governance outcomes. This idea is the common orientation of much scholarship and instrumental practice. Less examined is the manner in which certain forms of governance, and especially those rooted in systems of colonization, may marginalize Indigenous and other place-based ways of knowing. In doing so, such systems of governance continue to uphold and reinforce dominant knowledge and inequitable patterns of social and institutional relations associated with co-production (Liboiran 2021, Root-Bernstein et al. 2022, Silver et al. 2022). We acknowledge that colonialism intersects with other hierarchical systems of power (e.g., capitalism, patriarchy, race). However, much of the focus on KCP has centered on its apparent positive and normative benefits and has side-stepped some of these broader political and economic structures.
Those people engaged in co-production processes may benefit from further reflection of the knowledge processes with which they are engaged, whose and what knowledge is being used to improve governance outcomes, and the politics that frame appropriate knowledge for resource management primarily through discourses of science-based or evidence-driven decision-making that may sideline other systems of knowledge (Daniel 2019, Littlechild et al. 2021). How researchers and research partners co-construct or co-produce knowledge is an important entry point into this discussion because KCP can still underpin colonial forms of management and decision-making (Todd 2016, 2018, Liboiran 2021). Here, these colonial practices of governance and decision-making are linked to Eurocentric systems of knowledge that can perpetuate marginalization of less powerful groups and contribute to the appropriation of natural resources in favor of a dominant group (see Silver et al. 2022). A singular designation or definition of colonialism does not exist, and histories and experiences of colonialism are complex and unique to geographical settings, varied human situations, and agendas (Harris 2004, Coulthard 2010). However, Western European colonialism has emerged as a globally influential system of structural and discursive power that has shaped the governance of resources and places. Processes of KCP can thus contribute to or further exacerbate forms of “dispossession” through “collaborative” discourse that perpetuates and decontextualizes colonial power structures if the underlying knowledge informing decisions is not critiqued or reflected upon (i.e., undermining Indigenous governance or land rights through assimilation; see Harris 2004, Silver 2013). Without critical reflection, KCP may reproduce and reinforce power structures and relationships, but just under a more appealing label.
Accordingly, we had several objectives, with particular reference to coastal and marine contexts: (1) to interrogate more fully the interplay among social relations of power, knowledge production practices, and the governance contexts in which they are embedded; (2) to consider the challenges and limitations of KCP in particular places by drawing attention to key governance themes and areas for change and their implications for achieving better conservation and social-ecological outcomes; and (3) to work toward a fuller understanding of a “deep knowledge co-production” that cautions against a tendency to view knowledge and power processes in coastal and marine governance settings as an instrumental and technocratic problem. KCP is not a panacea, and we aim to reflect further on its intent and principles, yet still appreciate its action orientation as a crucial “practice for sustainability.”
Our paper is organized as follows. In the next section, we briefly synthesize the literature on KCP and identify and discuss gaps. We then outline the reflexive methodology followed here to examine several cases of KCP in which we have been engaged. Drawing on our reflections, we then identify a series of focal points at the intersection of KCP, power, and governance, and reflect upon those focal points as potential pathways of change to support future stewardship of coastal and marine systems. We do so by considering, in particular, the political and historical institutional structures in which KCP processes are enmeshed. We conclude with some observations for ongoing research, and synthesize some key lessons for practice.
Knowledge, power, and governance
KCP has a diverse intellectual history and set of assumptions. For instance, co-production offers a theoretical lens for understanding and critiquing knowledge and power (Forsyth 2002, Jasanoff 2004). Alternatively, co-production serves as an applied framework to achieve better outcomes in a wide range of sustainability contexts (Miller and Wyborn 2020, Chambers et al. 2021, Muhl et al. 2022). As well, there are several related terms and concepts used in the literature, and a range of mechanisms identified to achieve the intent behind these concepts (see Box 1).
The process of creating and disseminating knowledge collaboratively can be defined in multiple ways. Some related concepts and approaches are boundary spanning (Bednarek et al. 2018), knowledge brokering (Canadian Health Services Research Foundation 2003, Meyer 2010), exchange (Levesque et al. 2007), knowledge mobilization (Levin 2008), knowledge management (Lin et al. 2006), transfer (Agrawal 2001, Buckley and Giannakopoulos 2011), translation (Straus et al. 2009), utilization (Greenhalgh et al. 2004), and finally, knowledge to action (Graham et al. 2006). This multiplicity of terms emerges from slightly different strands of literature, yet the terms have a number of similarities. For our purposes, we have chosen knowledge co-production and its interplay with the processes and arrangements associated with governance.
KCP as articulated in science and technology studies encourages a critical perspective on the role of science, society, and knowledge (Jasanoff 1996, 2004, Forsyth 2002, Goldman et al. 2018). In particular, a core insight from science and technology studies is how difficult it is to separate science from its social context, pointing out that the questions we ask (and how we study them) is driven by politics, values, and power relationships (Todd 2018). Science and technology studies scholars illustrate the importance of engaging with questions of how we understand the world and how science (e.g., disciplines) establish and reinforce institutions that dictate resource governance (see Silver at al. 2022). The “sustainability sciences” literature has generally taken a more normative and action-oriented framing of KCP (see Chambers et al. 2021). Here, the focus is less on reflection about the role of science, and instead, is on the interactive processes among researchers and various stakeholders to define questions, consider the evidence, and generate solutions (Lemos and Morehouse 2005, Miller and Wyborn 2020, Chambers et al. 2022). This latter characterization of KCP tends to be dominant in the context of coastal, marine, and ocean science initiatives. However, critical reflection on the underlying assumptions and broader influences of institutions of governance and relations of power is imperative.
There remain a number of important gaps in the literature on co-production as applied in coastal and marine problem contexts, including several aspects of its interplay with systems of governance. For instance, scientific and western knowledge are often assumed as the logical starting point for understanding the social-ecological complexity of oceans and coasts and framing interventions, regardless of the context or the availability of different knowledge in that context (Silver et al. 2022, Salomon et al. 2023). There is growing recognition of the importance of local and place-based Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge about ecosystems and people, how they are connected, and how those insights are crucial for good governance (Jessen et al. 2022). However, simplified notions of “integrating” knowledge systems or more problematically, “validating” local or Indigenous knowledge in governance contexts are still prevalent (Nadasdy 1999, Tengö et al. 2014, Reid et al. 2021). If the aim is to co-produce a systems-oriented and shared, values-informed understanding of complex governance challenges, more awareness of these dynamics of knowledge and power is needed. As well, much of the literature on KCP emphasizes methodological process, yet the politics of choice about who is involved in a research process will affect what knowledge is co-produced. Here, the colonial and imperialist roots of science and its relationship to governance (Hill et al. 2020, Reid et al. 2021, Salomon et al. 2023) can neglect the spoken word or the power of stories as sources of governance change.
Moreover, what is often missing in much of the current KCP scholarship (e.g., in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) is acknowledgement of the historical and colonial governance contexts within which co-production takes place. In Canada, for example, the assertion of rights and dialogues about Nation-to-Nation governance will (or should) generate new challenges to the existing knowledge practices that underpin current governance and decision-making, with a potentially profound influence on how KCP processes are embraced. Although many of the prevailing assessments of KCP emphasize power and how KCP can be enhanced to include and accommodate Indigenous knowledge, there is limited consideration or critical examination of the structures of dispossession that currently remain (see Wolfe 2006, Harris 2008, Harris and Millerd 2010, Artelle et al. 2019) and continue to shape what knowledge is privileged and ultimately used to inform resource management and conservation decisions in government.
Co-production is hypothesized to catalyze better governance outcomes, but there is need to reflect on how governance systems rooted in enclosure, appropriation, and dispossession entrench forms of power that undermine current co-production efforts. For example, Dorries (2022) has highlighted the link between colonization of land and privileging of private property regimes that advance particular knowledge claims about resources and ownership. Similarly, Bhandar (2018) documents how mainstream management and planning reinforce racialized property regimes founded on settler colonialism and capitalism that create a backdrop for any governance process (see Harris 2004, Alfred and Corntassel 2005, Wolfe 2006), including those involving coastal and marine spaces (see Silver 2013). Despite important claims of equity and participation, many co-production processes and their governance regimes are still dominated by conventional forms of science and scientific tools (i.e., modeling) that seek to reduce and simplify contextual complexity, placing Indigenous and local values and knowledge as important but ultimately external to the systems of governing power (see Scott 1998). Ultimately, the governance of natural resources often remains situated in colonial forms of decision-making and certain logics of capitalism (i.e., private property regimes over commons), and can further perpetuate inequity and injustice (Harris 2004, Whyte 2018, Silver et al. 2022). Acknowledging these circumstances opens up possibilities for a consideration of deeper forms of KCP and efforts to support transformations toward better governance systems (Daniel 2019, Parsons et al. 2021).
The insights here emerge from detailed examination of marine conservation and resource management cases (Fig. 1) in which we are involved. We are an interdisciplinary team comprising Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and practitioners, and we each bring a variety of perspectives to this analysis from our lived experiences, shared knowledge, and professional and disciplinary training. Our group has several decades worth of experience interacting with coastal communities (in low- and high-income countries) and researching and supporting marine conservation and resources management initiatives. Further, we are engaged in research and partnerships in which both Indigenous and scientific knowledge are used to understand coastal and marine issues. Collectively, we acknowledge that our individual experiences influence our framing of the issues discussed here. We are each differentially positioned and bring different experiences, privileges, and biases to this effort.
The analysis of KCP and governance reflected here draws on a qualitative assessment (Yin 2014, Creswell and Creswell 2017) of a series of problem contexts in which we have been engaged. In doing so, we follow an inductive strategy to explore the relational complexity of KCP processes, including the interplay of knowledge, power, and governance. We adopted a reflexive and qualitative assessment (see Starman 2013, Fazey et al. 2018) of co-production opportunities in which we are or have been involved as a way to catalyze in-depth discussions and collaboratively identify specific lessons for successful KCP. We recognize the limitations associated with this approach, as the lessons we document are shaped by the places we have examined. However, the situations themselves are diverse in both region and scope and yield specific examples while highlighting broader implications for KCP. The four contexts in which we engage with KCP and governance include: (1) coastal ecosystem-based management initiatives in Haida Gwaii, Canada; (2) experiences with coastal governance and ecosystem management in New Zealand; (3) a knowledge brokering support program in Papua New Guinea (PNG) aimed at fostering coastal livelihoods, and; (4) historic and present-day management experiences with the in-shore (coastal) cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (see Fig. 1 and Appendix 1, supplementary material A for descriptions and further context on each example, including objectives, geographic scope, social-political and institutional contexts, and ecosystem conditions).
A number of criteria were used to select the contexts we examined: (1) KCP experiences are or were taking place in reference to coastal and marine resources; (2) diverse knowledge sources and actors (e.g., Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge and partners) were present; (3) initiatives spanned local to regional scales; (4) cases reflected various stages of research and action (i.e., some completed, some ongoing); (5) KCP engagement and participation had occurred for > 10 years; (6) leadership or participants (i.e., coauthors) felt that they had lessons for success and were willing to participate; (7) leadership actively centered Indigenous peoples or recognized the importance over time of diverse knowledge and perspectives; (8) reports and other technical documents existed that supported and endorsed KCP on the ground; and (9) cases were geographically diverse and contextually varied. Notably, one of our cases also serves as a “counterfactual” example and was included to reflect the absence of explicit KCP processes.
We are (or have been) embedded in the case study contexts we examine here. As such, our analysis is based on an extended period (> 18 months) of individual and collective reflection through a series of structured virtual workshops and follow-up individual or small-group conversations. We consider our research a reflective practice (see Fazey et al. 2018) in which a key concern is to consider changes within the systems in which we are engaged, and not consider them as “external” problems subject to analysis. This form of reflective research to address situations of embedded complexity further aligns with the notions of more detailed ethnographic work in the context of the organizations and decision-making situations created to foster KCP (e.g., organizational ethnographies as framed by Yanow 2012). Specifically, our research process centers on understanding a concept (e.g., KCP) by examining its social relations and structure within the organizational contexts in which we are embedded (see Ybema and Kamsteeg 2009, Ciuk et al. 2018).
We adopted an inductive approach to allow for flexibility in identifying and understanding issues of relevance within the examples examined. An inductive approach is appropriate for this research because it allows for an analysis of the themes that arise through engagement with rightsholders and key stakeholders. We examined the social relations and structures that shape co-production processes through a dialectic and shared reflection involving workshops and meetings among the 13 core collaborators. Most members of the author team have been situated at some point within the organizational practices (e.g., co-management bodies, government departments, development agencies) engaged in KCP processes. Members of the author team are thus co-interpreters and co-constructors in the analysis while simultaneously reflecting on the strengths and limitations of the organizations in which they participate or contribute and their own role in shaping those organizational practices. This approach required us to reflect simultaneously on our own positionality during the process of case study analysis, our underlying assumptions, and the questions posed (see also Fazey et al. 2018). To engage in this reflective practice, we followed a series of steps (Fig. 2) to co-construct a series of questions to engage in the analysis (see also Appendix 1, supplementary material B). Our subgroup meetings were specifically framed so that case study groups could have an in-depth discussion with reference to their context. Additional individual conversations about the core themes and reflective questions also took place due to time zone differences (see Appendix 1, supplementary material B for further details).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Consistent with our objectives, we co-developed a framework to facilitate critical reflection of KCP processes. We did so with reference to the structural constraints and awareness of the colonial systems of governance within which knowledge practices are still often situated (Fig. 3). As interest in KCP grows (Chambers et al. 2021), there remains limited examination (or practical guidance) on how to navigate historical influences and challenges of governance. For example, information is scarce on how the governance context for KCP ultimately determines scope for knowledge sharing among different groups, creates conditions (or does not) to navigate and balance power dimensions, privileges what knowledge is used to frame questions, and normalizes particular biases about knowledge. Ultimately, themes have been articulated during our process in ways that help us to reflect more carefully on the intersection of KCP and governance practices, and which offer in part a working “theory of change” for how better or more realistic outcomes can be achieved for coastal and marine conservation outcomes (Fig. 3). These reflection points also serve as a reminder of potential areas of intervention or the foundation of strategies to support KCP. Each reflection point has spaces that must be navigated to move successfully across them; the process is continuous, but the themes and areas of critical reflection do not always occur in a specific sequence.
The five core themes include: (1) engaging more explicitly with the core motivations of individuals situated within broader or collective governance contexts; (2) surfacing and meaningfully engaging with the identities, positionality, or participants in KCP, and their implications for values and relationships that are at the core of governance processes; (3) highlighting governance capacity with respect to spatial and temporal constraints; (4) drawing attention to the institutional reforms needed to support co-production and overcome colonial and capitalist practices of governance; and (5) emphasizing the importance of data sovereignty as expectations about knowledge sharing shift, and particularly for contexts in which customary practices and place-based relationships with resources are paramount. By drawing attention to these dimensions and using examples to demonstrate how they function, we hope to further problematize and challenge common tendencies to instrumentalize KCP, and to ensure KCP in marine and coastal research, and more broadly in conservation and resource governance practice, is understood as more than a “box to tick.”
Centering motivation as a catalyst for knowledge co-production
The importance of engaging directly with the core motivations of individuals participating in KCP processes emerged early on as a focal point, and particularly in relation to the collective governance contexts in which we participate. Many of our conversations revolved around questions such as, “Why do we engage in KCP?” and “Why would our research partners be motivated to participate in what can be challenging collaborative efforts?” For many members of our team, addressing these questions is a crucial component of setting the groundwork for how marine conservation and resource governance initiatives unfold. Two central issues emerged with regard to motivation. First, our team documented the importance of understanding how motivations are catalysts for working toward positive relationships and shared values, which are often noted as important in co-production but are not often unpacked. Second, we reflected on the manner in which motivation may often emerge from a perceived “duty” to ensure good relations with each other as individuals, but also in terms of our duty to have responsible relations with the land and seas.
To build governance relationships, some common motivations (and shared goals) among different groups are necessary. This was the case in both Haida Gwaii, Canada and the Sustainable Seas National Challenge (SSNSC), New Zealand, where clarifying motivations helped center the relationships needed to catalyze co-production processes. For example, across the duration of the SSNSC, more than half of the Māori researchers have stayed with the program. As one of our group noted, one of the motivations is the sense that the Challenge will care for their experiences as Māori, in part because there are Māori leaders within the overall Challenge leadership team. In the SSNSC, there are structural supports to create and hold space for Māori knowledge and approaches, sustaining and encouraging motivations to partner to develop shared values. Motivation to build necessary relationships has also been linked to how knowledge is valued and positioned. Specifically, the challenge has proactively sought Māori engagement and contributions in ways that shape new understandings and practices for ecosystem-based management.
The importance of centering motivations was also highlighted in the Knowledge Brokering Support Program, PNG. In this context, building the capacity of practitioners and officials to support the design, development, and implementation of coastal resilience programs was based on relationships formed through years of research collaborations with communities and local nongovernmental organizations. Notably, these relationships go beyond the conventional terms of reference for the work and were rooted in some internal motivations of those involved to build shared values and common goals despite some challenging institutional and governance circumstances. For example, one coauthor highlighted the importance of working on community development grants and efforts to help local communities, not because of the economic or social capital incentives, but because of individual motivations to extend opportunities for those communities. In contrast, in the case of the cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, there was a strong vested interest or motivation to “keep things the way they were” in the management system in the 1980s (i.e., in terms of quota allocation, how science was used to frame decisions about cod stocks, etc.). In this case, the knowledge practices at the time were often characterized by a lack of unity, limited capacity to engage with diverse perspectives, and ultimately, the undermining of the legitimacy of fisheries management, with negative implications for government–fishing-community relationships that exist to this day. In Newfoundland and Labrador, poorly regulated fishing and institutional challenges associated with knowledge sharing meant that it was impossible to co-produce an understanding of what was happening in the cod fishery. This knowledge challenge was an important contributor in the fishery’s ultimate collapse (Hutchings and Myers 1994).
The second key motivation to participate in or catalyze KCP processes centers around the notion of “duty.” Here, we refer to duty as ensuring good relations with each other, but also the notions of reciprocity and respect with the land and seas. For example, with the Haida Nation, a key motivation is their collective worldview of being land custodians. The Haida Nation is responsible for the lands and waters of Haida Gwaii and has taken a leadership role in decision-making. This duty to land and sea and better relations in Haida Gwaii is similar to the idea of kaitiaki as highlighted in the New Zealand context, and which reflects both a cultural obligation and a call to action. Kaitiaki is the recognition of an intergenerational connection and responsibility (i.e., duty) that arises from a kin-based relationship to people and place (see Box 2).
A kaitiaki is a guardian, keeper, preserver, conservator, and protector. When you add the suffix -tanga, it transforms to mean guardianship, preservation, conservation, and protection. Kaitiakitanga emerges from a distinctly Māori worldview and is connected to a range of other key Māori principles and concepts. Of great importance is its connection to whanaungatanga, that is, it is an intergenerational obligation that arises by virtue of the kin relationship (or whakapapa) between people, and between people and place, and the wider environment. Within a Māori worldview, people are descendants of the natural world, and as within families, that familial connection comes with obligations to make wise decisions that sustain well-being. Kaitiakitanga has a spiritual aspect, encompassing not only an obligation to care for and nurture physical well-being, but also mauri, or the spiritual essence of existence. A notion often captured in Māori proverb reinforces the responsibility of kaitiakitanga by noting that we are effectively borrowing resources from our mokopuna (grandchildren), so are obligated to be good ancestors in our decision-making and practice.
However, this sense of duty as a core motivator to secure good relations in a co-production process is not always shared by all participants, or at least expressed in all circumstances. For example, Haida Nation representatives on the Archipelago Management Board (a co-management entity with Haida and non-Indigenous government representatives and the explicit task of bringing different knowledge and perspectives together) have voiced frustration because representatives of the federal government raise the issue that a process “can’t fetter the Minister.” In other words, motivations to participate are situated in a governance context that grants decision-making authority to an external (i.e., colonial) actor even though decisions are meant to be made together. In response to this, Haida representatives often make the point that the Haida Nation also cannot fetter their decision-makers. This response draws attention to notions of duty of both the Haida and federal governments, and responsibilities to develop a co-management process and related knowledge practices that are built on respect and reciprocity. Ultimately, however, the duty to nurture good relations and reciprocity can bring different constituents into struggles about motivation that are at the center of competing governance principles.
Identities, positionality, values, and relationships
The literature on KCP regularly points to the importance of relationships and relationship building as a core feature of successful outcomes (Lemos and Morehouse 2005, Armitage et al. 2011, Robards et al. 2018). For example, Chambers et al. (2022) note that across 32 initiatives spanning six continents, four relational archetypes emerge to balance power and connect process to action. Norström et al. (2020) similarly note in their four principles for co-management that participant interaction is necessary to foster trust and learning through sharing experiences, values, and goals for collective action. However, what is often masked in these discussions is a deeper reflection on the identities, positionalities, and values that sustain these relationships or make them challenging to foster. Indeed, few scholars in KCP are specifically examining how relationships and trust (as common determinates of co-production) are linked to the identities and dimensions of positionality that influence relational processes in coastal and marine governance settings (see Muhl et al. 2022). Further, our reflections reveal that even when motivations to engage in co-production are surfaced, the way in which identities and positionality support learning, growth, and connection is critical for success and failure in the examples in which we are engaged. In this regard, we consider positionality as the way in which people situate their identity and their values in relation to societal context and their interactions with other people. Further, we refer to identity as the manner in which people perceive themselves “...and the behaviors, norms and subsequent actions people take in a given decision-making context in ways that align with their values” (Muhl et al. 2022:454).
Two key messages emerged in regard to engaging meaningfully with identities and positionality and their implications for the governance processes in which KCP are situated. First, identities and positionality invariably influence the relationships and the development of equitable governance partnerships that are critical to successful KCP. For example, in the New Zealand case, program leaders recognized early that achieving outcomes within the limited time frame of the initiative meant having to design projects around existing relationships and aligning momentum, and doing so by building on situations where common identities could be supported. Often, this process required that projects were led or co-led either by the whānau, hapū, iwi (family, subtribes, and tribes), or by researchers with connections (whakapapa) to either of those groups, or alternatively, to specific locations or places (e.g., specific bays) where there were some common identities. These experiences illustrate how identities inside and outside of the co-production process become important.
As our reflections revealed, governance contexts and knowledge practices often assume that people hold one primary and generally “fixed” identity. However, in co-production processes, individual identities and roles can shift based on experiences and obligations both within and outside of those governance processes (i.e., as individuals in a broader community). For example, within the New Zealand case, there is potential for people to wear multiple hats, with implications for KCP (i.e., as researcher and member of local iwi). The key identity may be “researcher,” but the individual may have a range of other identities relevant to the research such as iwi (tribal) member and governor of affected iwi-owned assets (such as fisheries quota). Identities (and positionality) of participants in co-production processes also extend into relationships connected to specific environmental contexts, given, in particular, the relationships among place and Indigenous knowledge. As an Indigenous team member explained, Indigenous knowledge is situated in a community’s connection to place-based systems and specific features of that place around which knowledge practices and the cultural transmission of knowledge is linked. For those engaged in the co-production process, they are linked to place-based identities, or the idea of tūrangawaewae or “place to stand,” which is the place where the ancestors stood and where your descendants will stand (and thus take on the responsibility of caring for that space; see links to the discussion on kaitiaki in Box 2). How one “walks on the land,” the way that one interacts not only with people but also the environment, is important. This idea suggests that individual identities and positionalities must connect across multiple platforms (with other individuals, with nature, and with one another’s culture), and that most participants are not easily “pigeon-holed” into a single identity.
In the Haida Gwaii example, our analysis similarly revealed that relationships relevant to co-production exist across multiple spaces and governance contexts. For example, different resource users or actors may experience conflict in certain governance settings (e.g., a fishery advisory committee), but their children may be in the same class together or one actor may coach the other child’s soccer team. Relationships bridge different boundaries when people live in a small place together, and there is a need to embrace the multiplicity of identities and positionalities that shape those relationships. As one coauthor shared, “...you have to stand behind what you say because you are accountable to your own community when you make a decision.” Conservation and resource management initiatives affect livelihoods (and the identities that go with those livelihoods) in multiple ways and are enmeshed within day-to-day life and encounters. As another coauthor noted with reference to these co-production efforts, “You have to be prepared to meet the person you have impacted in the grocery store and look them in the eye.”
In the PNG case, the co-production process was (and continues to be) built on relationships that were already established through long-standing development initiatives, but also relationships closely connected to identities of participants with particular places. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the knowledge brokering process (Appendix 1) was disrupted, and the positionality of the knowledge brokers changed. A coauthor noted that the knowledge brokering project would most likely not have been attempted had prior knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic been available because relationships are best built through face-to-face interaction. Relationships that mature when working on the ground, and the shared experiences from that work, are what has helped to build the trust among Australian researchers, PNG practitioners, and local communities. However, the inability (because of the pandemic) of Australian researchers to engage on the ground with their PNG counterparts and the local communities has highlighted the subtle hierarchical prominence that western knowledge still tends to have, even when programs are based on shared values and common goals. COVID-19 changed this positionality by shifting the focus of the initiative from a knowledge-generation process emphasizing researcher-led project design, methodology, engagement, and facilitation to one led by PNG practitioners and groups of women leaders. As such, the pandemic provided the unforeseen benefit for practitioners and communities to move away from an initially more hierarchical orientation and toward a co-production model. In this context, knowledge brokers in the community (i.e., women) have taken greater ownership of projects by adapting tools, processes, and approaches in line with their capacity, resources, and their communities’ needs and visions (see Box 3).
A change in the positionality of various groups within the program has created more space for the Papua New Guinea (PNG) knowledge brokers to adapt the participatory tools, processes, and approaches to their capacity and resources, to better emphasize local needs and visions, and consequently, to foster greater ownership. In this way, the PNG knowledge brokers, all of whom are women and have been involved in the Knowledge Brokering Support Program (KBSP), have gained more agency and power by stepping up and having to direct the communities. For example, women began to lead programs independently in directions that they felt were beneficial. The KBSP program has thus provided a space of power and agency for PNG knowledge brokers to do the work necessary with the communities, in which new knowledge is once more co-produced between PNG practitioners and local communities. This example highlights the role of positionality and how relationships that develop on the ground are beneficial, but when it comes to agency, there is a delicate balance with positionality, remnants of intrinsically inherited hierarchical biases, and empowerment.
A second key message to emerge from reflections of our diverse organizational and governance contexts centers on the importance of shared identity and the importance of finding those points of shared identity to foster relationships. Where those links are not made, they will lead to disconnected and increasingly marginalized communities who cannot or will not engage in co-production efforts. As our reflections revealed, in cases where an individual perceives themselves to be marginalized (i.e., “everyone for themselves”) from a co-production process or the presumed benefits of a governance process, the prospects for building the relationships and trust that are fundamental to KCP will be significantly curtailed. Simply, communities that are disconnected and marginalized (e.g., economically dependent on resources with little to no long-term financial support) in broader governance processes may actively or passively undermine KCP (withholding or not sharing knowledge), and especially those processes that do not engage with the structures (political, economic, etc.) that create the conditions of marginalization in the first place. The case of cod fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador served as a reminder that when resource users are marginalized in decision-making, they may engage in self-defeating behavior. For example, many inshore cod fishers continued harvesting despite the knowledge that they were depleting the resource. Because there was very little coordination or shared knowledge between groups (e.g., inshore fishers, government scientists), each actor group (e.g., foreign vessels, local fishers) was largely operating on objectives framed within their particular position and livelihood identity. There are many reasons for the collapse of the cod fishery, but the lack of knowledge sharing and the manner in which individual and collective identities framed decision-making remains an important factor (Milich 1999, Schwermer et al. 2021).
Governance capacity and spatial and temporal tensions
Our third critical reflection point centered on the governance capacity and spatial and temporal tensions woven through KCP. For example, KCP processes take significant time and resources (Karcher et al. 2022b). However, little emphasis is placed on understanding how the tensions associated with project timelines for co-production are multifaceted. On the surface, many assessments of instrumental forms of co-production suggest that they involve reconciling institutional priorities or a mismatch with funding cycles linked to short-term political choices. However, tensions around timelines are often more nuanced and may be linked to misalignments or conflict regarding intergenerational worldviews and the outcome of historical governance practices and relationships. For instance, in the Haida Gwaii, New Zealand, and PNG contexts, the tensions around timelines for co-production have much to do with the emphasis on developing place-based interventions in relation to expectations about intergenerational benefits. In this regard, engagement in Indigenous communities must recognize the work that was started many generations before (e.g., in the Haida and Māori contexts) and the manner in which key foundations for co-production are situated in hard won historical agreements. Co-production practices or individuals that insert themselves into such processes without due consideration of these tensions risk undermining or marginalizing decades of struggle to reframe relationships of power and knowledge (Vincent et al. 2020, Zurba et al. 2022). Instrumentalized forms of co-production become merely another form of knowledge (and possibly territorial) dispossession in such circumstances.
The complexity of process timelines associated with co-production and governance have important capacity implications as well. As noted, processes of KCP require time to build relationships but often do not consider the individual (or even organizational) risk of burn-out. As our reflective cases reveal, many of the people that are drawn to co-production processes are embedded in many other personally demanding situations with limited time to recharge. Sometimes, one person will have responsibilities for multiple processes across different projects, making deep engagement with co-production personally taxing. These challenges have been exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As reflected in the PNG example, they are further compounded by the lack of remuneration or economic incentives for certain groups in co-production processes (e.g., volunteers, resource harvesters) that must take time away from their livelihood work. These structural and material constraints also hinder their capacity to engage as equals with those in more “formalized” roles (i.e., paid employment). This situation was noted as a common issue in the case of iwi in New Zealand co-production efforts.
Still, as reflected in the PNG context, the urgency for immediate actions to improve marine resource governance and livelihood sustainability does not disappear. Long-term co-production processes are in tension with the need for more immediate decisions because people rely so directly on coastal and marine resources for their livelihood needs. As reflected in our examples, therefore, engaging more deeply with co-production requires further sensitivity to the manner in which different governance realities and processes are linked. Like a system of cogs, international organizations and nongovernmental organizations, research organizations, granting and funding councils, and community organizations each operate with different temporal expectations and cycles of activity. Nevertheless, these processes are connected and affect one another in ways that are not always recognized as fundamental to co-production. For example, funding cycles and timelines rarely coincide with community realities, where livelihood challenges can emerge quickly or be exposed to unexpected seasonal changes or threats. In co-production then, time represents different meanings and works in different governance contexts, with implications for outcomes.
Two additional capacity issues emerged from our case reflections. First, our cases highlighted how time is strategic as a leverage point in governance efforts, with implications for co-production. Specifically, time can be used strategically, either to increase pressure on external actors to engage more meaningfully in KCP or to wait out a person in a position of authority that may impede meaningful momentum. In Haida Gwaii, for instance, efforts to meet specific timelines outlined in agreements (including those associated with resource rights and the transfer of decision-making power) have not always been successful. This situation poses a systemic barrier to action. However, there are also individual manifestations of this pattern in which individuals representing federal organizations could be more entrepreneurial or seek to lead more proactively, yet choose instead to slow processes of change. However, as our experiences show, individuals in government roles tend to cycle through fairly regularly, and these changes can be leveraged when new individuals take on the positions. In some instances, this situation is problematic because helpful knowledge or experience may be lost every time there is a change in a government position. As one coauthor noted, “...it is like continuously having to restart the process of KCP, at least with a part of the cog mechanism.” In contrast, as was noted in the Haida Gwaii example, if an individual is creating a barrier (whether intentional or not), or a government representative is privileging one form of knowledge over another, the Haida Nation can “wait them out” and try again when a new representative is appointed. As a practice embedded in a governance context, co-production requires patience, and several of the cases here highlight how a “long game” is best for certain participants within the co-production processes. Inaction or resistance is itself a form of co-production action.
Second, an intriguing spatial and temporal challenge that emerged in the context of our reflections was the role that the ecology of place has in constraining or facilitating KCP. Ecology of place is a driver or variable in most KCP processes that has received limited attention, even though decades of scholarship draw attention to the manner in which our environments are “co-produced” through human interaction (Hill et al. 2020) and the role of governance in privileging certain social-ecological system configurations over others (Berkes 2003). For example, the governance of a resource (e.g., fish) that crosses boundaries due to migration or that has diverse, fluctuating ranges according to water temperature or prey dynamics can quickly highlight the limitations of dominant (i.e., science) knowledge systems. Newfoundland and Labrador provides one example of how ecological dynamics (i.e., of cod) generate temporal and spatial challenges to successful KCP (see Box 4). These challenges are further exacerbated by climate change or global market demands.
The Northern cod stock is dispersed over a vast area that includes most of the Labrador Sea and the northern and eastern areas of the island of Newfoundland. Historically, the fishery included both inshore and offshore domestic harvesters, as well as a significant international fishery that occurred outside Canadian jurisdiction. The ocean environment around Newfoundland and Labrador is subject to both seasonal and longer term change. It is subject to temperature and other oceanographic changes that can have a significant effect on the productivity of cod and other species. The competing viewpoints and positions of diverse interest groups (e.g., inshore and offshore fishers, government fisheries scientists, leadership of fisheries unions) as well as ever-changing and unpredictable environmental conditions (e.g., uncertain changes in stocks of crab, capelin, and cod) have historically constrained the adoption of knowledge co-production within fisheries management planning and governance processes that have not necessarily been designed to support stakeholder engagement (see also Box 6).
Finally, any KCP process is going to grapple with difficult questions of appropriate spatial and temporal scales of analysis and action. These are not simply technocratic questions about analytical tools, but rather reflect the governance context and complexity. Ecological scale and resource dynamics create materially significant conditions for co-production efforts (e.g., challenge of managing a species or multiple species given their life cycle) and broader environmental conditions (which are increasingly uncertain), including how different types and sources of knowledge are meaningfully explored in what are often science-driven and institutionalized practices (see Armitage et al. 2019, Silver et al. 2022). In many situations, the relationship between the ecological system and its governance context reduces opportunities for deeper forms of co-production process. This situation may imply that co-production processes are only feasible at a certain geographic scale or may suggest limits on how many communities can be meaningfully engaged. Notably, as reflected in the New Zealand case, the formal regulatory framework to manage different marine resources is often very different from the scales at which Māori knowledge about those ecosystems are oriented (see also Winter et al. 2018 in regard to similarity with the moku system in Hawaiʻi). Similarly, in PNG, co-production processes are nested within a complex legislative and regulatory framework characterized by multiple “boundary areas” with adjacent jurisdictions (e.g., Australia and Indonesia). Here, several agreements and treaties manage activities and shared resources that intersect with national laws and management plans. However, the coastal and marine ecosystems and their dynamics do not align well with this governance complexity, making co-production processes particularly challenging. Even within particular places, there are fundamental divides in language and cultural groups in PNG, with strong land and sea ownership customs tied to local ecology.
Catalyzing institutional reform
KCP processes do not exist in a vacuum. As reflected in our case studies, KCP outcomes intersect with a willingness among participants to engage in processes of institutional reform and by challenging particular institutional practices and forms colonial governance. Three key messages emerged about the institutional and governance reforms needed to catalyze better co-production processes and outcomes, and especially in contexts in which colonial and capitalist structures of resource management continue to privilege certain knowledge claims (Hill et al. 2020, M’sit No’kmaq et al. 2021).
First, formal “legal” or policy frameworks for KCP can facilitate better outcomes, especially in contexts where Indigenous sovereignty and knowledge are central to management efforts. For instance, the institutional and constitutional context in Aotearoa New Zealand has a significant influence on enabling KCP. That context helps to frame Māori rights in resource management as well as to inform research funding investment decisions. Within the New Zealand initiative specifically, a policy commitment to structural change and equity requires careful reflection on the membership of the program’s governance group, leadership team, and advisory panels. As a result, there is dedicated space for Māori leadership, partnership (i.e., Māori are partners and research leaders), and participation (i.e., with Māori as operators or because they are interested in being part of the research). These leadership, partnership, and participation roles are a feature of the initiative and not just for research that aims to address Māori priorities, but across the breadth of the entire research program. Across the program, outcomes are premised on the inclusion and alignment of both mātauranga Māori and historically dominant forms of ecosystem science. The policy context thus enables (and is further enabled by) necessary changes in the attitudes of researchers, stakeholders, and the governance group.
The situation in the Haida Gwaii context is somewhat similar. Here, a foundational set of policies, agreements, or “living documents” (e.g., the Gwaii Haanas Agreement) provides a crucial foundation and expectation for KCP. The Gwaii Haanas Gina ‘Waadluxan KilGuhlGa Land-Sea-People Management Plan was co-developed by the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada in collaboration with local communities, rightsholders, and stakeholders and establishes a foundation for a range of management and implementation initiatives based on co-management and power sharing through the Archipelago Management Board, a co-management body comprising three representatives of the Haida Nation and three representatives of the Government of Canada, including two from Parks Canada and one from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This policy context for co-production is a unique outcome catalyzed by a governance shift in which the Haida are asserting inherent title over their territory and requiring co-management of all resources while the land title issue is being resolved.
Reflections on our case studies and organizational contexts highlighted a second key insight: It is important to know the political leverage points that engender meaningful co-production processes. In the Haida Gwaii context, one of the strategies employed by the Haida Nation has been to observe the political climate in which they operate and to look for “openings” where bridges of knowledge sharing and collaboration can be built. Part of the successful partnerships that have been formed in this case involve understanding which partners can push at what doors and in ways that are actionable in relation to their priorities. For example, Haida Nation representatives are able to take actions that federal government representatives cannot, such as calling federal Ministers when they are dissatisfied with progress on key files. As our reflections showed, for those involved in KCP processes, knowing such political leverage points is part of understanding how to manoeuvre and negotiate within a governance system. Finally, elections can be windows of opportunity to advance knowledge processes and gain traction on the outcomes of co-production processes (see Box 5).
In Haida Gwaii, our coauthors emphasized that they are “playing the long game.” This strategy was explained as sometimes just exhaling and waiting for a door to be “opened.” In this case, elections are often the best time to push doors that are a little bit open. If a door is fully shut, one cannot direct energy there. Knowing which doors to push is part of being aware of limits because many people are spread thin across multiple projects. If a door is partially open, it is worth pushing. Just prior to an election, a coauthor noted that governments want to make high-profile policy and investment announcements. Processes can move forward quickly in this context, and understanding these dynamics is part of effective co-management. At these junctures, it is important to have the right people at the table. Regardless, there is a need to balance working with external partners while still being aware of internal considerations and successfully balancing objectives. The emergence and adoption of the Land-Sea-People plan reflected some of these political considerations.
The third key insight to emerge from our analysis is the importance of internalizing (from the personal to the institutional) the experience of how KCP happens. For example, in the Haida Gwaii example, participants noted that sharing the Haida way of life creates interpersonal connections that extend beyond work and institutionalized identities. As one of our coauthors expressed, “Once you’re out on the water, it is a natural way to break down barriers. You watch people change out there. All the titles and all that, they let it go for a while, and the experience gets inside of them and they never forget it.” These in-person experiences in a place where knowledge, culture, and an environmental experience are shared help to build connections that bridge the institutional and governance barriers that often exist. Experiences in the Haida Gwaii context also point to the importance of finding strategies to break inevitable tensions by being able to laugh together, find commonalities, and know that decisions are shared and co-owned. Further, opportunities to collectively “debrief” within institutional processes were noted as important. Debriefing a solution or decision can help to reduce the tension associated with a process of knowledge sharing and deliberation and further support the sense that any decision made is one for which everyone takes responsibility. Finally, internalizing the experience of co-production requires that decision-makers have a connection to the issues at hand and have a stake in finding durable and equitable outcomes. Experiences from the Newfoundland and Labrador cod fisheries example highlighted this institutional paradox. Many of those involved with the mandate to make decisions about managing the cod stocks were disconnected from the places of concern and from each other (see Box 6).
Disconnection from place and lack of knowledge sharing for governance very much describes the Newfoundland and Labrador northern cod fishery when it collapsed in 1992. Centralized decision-making for the management of the cod fishery resulted in a disconnect between the fishing communities and the fisheries managers. The cod fishery, especially the inshore fishery, was very much seen as an industry of last resort and lacked any long-term economic vision. This situation was further compounded by the lack of political persuasion within the Canadian confederation given that Newfoundland and Labrador held only seven federal seats in Parliament. The highly decentralized inshore fishery long suffered from a lack of focus and strategy. Historically, many policymakers and political leaders considered the cod fishery a low-skilled industry that limited further economic development and diversification. It is interesting to note that with the decline in the cod fishery, far more lucrative shellfish fisheries emerged for shrimp and crab. The current fishery management regime is far more inclusive of the harvester community perspective. The fishing enterprises associated with the shrimp and crab fisheries are reliant on larger vessels, sophisticated technology, and higher levels of training. While many conflicts remain, knowledge co-production is far more present in the post-cod fisheries.
Information sharing and data sovereignty
KCP is about producing new insights together and sharing information while navigating some of the critical reflection points and engaging critically with the systems of governance that shape those processes. However, careful consideration of the sovereignty implications and ethics underpinning knowledge and information sharing has too often taken a secondary role in these critical reflections. Reflections from our examples draw attention to two aspects of information sharing and data sovereignty. First, sharing data and knowledge is important if learning outcomes and empowerment are to be achieved. Second, doing so without also respecting data sovereignty ultimately undermines a foundational premise of KCP. For instance, engaging with diverse knowledge sources will generate important insights, yet doing so without challenging linear flows of colonial knowledge and related governance practices (e.g., some modeling exercises, expert advisory groups) that are prioritized in most settings will exacerbate knowledge inequities further (see Muhl et al. 2022).
Sharing data and knowledge is linked to learning. In the Newfoundland and Labrador case, for example, a lack of data-sharing was the foundation of a long-term fisheries management problem that contributed to a stock collapse (see Box 6). However, unpacking how the process of knowledge sharing fails to take place requires further reflection and recognition of the myriad and context-specific ways in which it may occur in many KCP processes. Conventional strategies of sharing findings through written reports is a recognized challenge and certainly emerged as an issue in our own reflections. As one example, the language used in written reports can be “overprotective” (e.g., de-identifying data) or exclusionary (e.g., using jargon or using language that may cause harm), and therefore, can undermine opportunities for broader use of the information and ideas in that reporting. In the PNG example, for instance, data is de-identified (i.e., names are removed) because of internal ethics processes and data sensitivity. On the surface, this process has seemed to make sense. However, as a result, key information has gone unshared in report-back processes, including withholding data that could be useful to a community. Without the connection to place and the individuals that raised the issues, the value of that information is lost, as is its practical use by the community. As our deliberations revealed, the loss of certain information in the PNG case has undermined opportunities to reflect and learn and has created tension with the co-production process.
The example from PNG did raise the question of how best to balance sensitive information sharing with the importance of maintaining sovereignty of that information and adherence to principles of confidentiality. Experiences in the New Zealand context offer one example. In that instance, learning and empowerment is fostered by bringing Māori researchers together to share knowledge for the next generation. Such knowledge-sharing processes provide space to discuss challenges and provide feedback to or between communities, researchers, and decision makers on a range of coastal ecosystem-based management issues. Those settings also provide space for consideration of “language,” especially when there are different language systems. In particular, there is significant effort to ensure different systems of knowledge are presented in ways that are accessible and understandable to a broad range of participants in the process while addressing concerns about data sovereignty (see Box 7).
Data sovereignty is preserved through shared images that provide knowledge while still protecting sensitive knowledge. Project milestones were co-designed to enable knowledge and data to be managed in accordance with whānau, hapū, and iwi aspirations. Examples involve sharing maps but not giving the “key” or legend (see Paul-Burke et al. 2020), and using postcards to share key concepts and knowledge in a way that is easily understood. Further, there are multiple examples of full reports, models, and tools for ecosystem-based management that have been co-developed but held only by the whānau, hapū, or iwi, with the summaries and high-level graphics shared more broadly. Other examples of strategies that foster sharing while emphasizing data sovereignty include the development of digital repositories with security measures designed to enable appropriate protection. Such repositories also help to share knowledge in ways that are non-technical and culturally appropriate.
Sharing knowledge and data can be a barrier to meaningful co-production processes. This process is a challenge that is not articulated adequately in most instrumentally focused co-production literature, although some recent work is drawing attention to its implications for collaboration. For example, the products of KCP practices (e.g., academic publications, data sets, etc.) enable certain cultural discourses and languages, and undermine others. The subsequent institutional, social, and political economic relations that are aligned with those discourses require careful consideration to ensure that positionality and power are not implicitly or explicitly reproduced or reworked (see Derickson 2022). Indeed, in many conservation settings, western agencies use their knowledge and data forms to claim discursive legitimacy and thus re-exert political and economic control. As a result, in many co-production processes (even those that have been ongoing for several years), there can still be some mistrust within groups because of unmet expectations from previous projects or programs. Of more fundamental concern, however, are the harms from colonization and the dispossession of territories and knowledge linked to those territories through a range of governance practices and state-sponsored conservation or resource management schemes. Indeed, some projects involve aspects of hereditary or customary knowledge that is linked to the protection of species of ceremonial, commercial, or ecological importance (see Moola and Roth 2019, Paul-Burke et al. 2020, Salomon et al. 2023). Data sovereignty is crucial in a co-production process under such circumstances.
As reflected in our examples, there is rarely an ideal process with which to address the tension between knowledge sharing and data sovereignty. However, acknowledging that KCP processes are more sensitive to these tensions is crucial to trust-building and a future willingness to share information (Cvitanovic et al. 2021). In the New Zealand case, Māori researchers and communities have decided what information is public, what is held by communities, and thus, how it should be stored, organized, analyzed, and cared for over the long term. These efforts have included digital repositories or pataka kōrero (narrative/knowledge storehouses) designed, developed, and applied by those Māori groups and communities from whom the data and information have been sourced. Such repositories also include science data and information that have been tailored and made more accessible to the Māori communities involved. Notably, co-production efforts for ecosystem-based management in the New Zealand case has included the production of maps that show generally where the work exists. However, the maps do not explain what particular codes or legends mean in sensitive areas or areas of customary practice. In some projects, all data are shared when not classified or deemed culturally sensitive (i.e., key information for the next generation). Such processes do show, for those engaged or thinking of engaging in governance processes, that it is important to create space and a place (e.g., a cultural database) for communities to store knowledge, even if it is not specifically relevant to the project. Thus, in New Zealand, examples of these repositories have proven extremely important to inform whānau, hapū, and iwi environmental planning and management while also serving local and regional councils engaged in ecosystem-based management and where those Māori communities have agreed to share access.
The intersection of knowledge and power is a well-established focus in co-production processes and highlighted, in particular, by Indigenous scholars (Liborian 2021) and others offering critiques from the perspective of science and technology studies (Jasanoff 2004). However, there has been rapid growth in the promotion of KCP as an instrumental strategy to foster sustainable outcomes in conservation and resource management settings (Armitage et al. 2019, Miller and Wyborn 2020, Norström et al. 2020, Chambers et al. 2021). Increasingly, this strategy includes the promotion of KCP as a catch-all for engagement in coastal and marine governance processes, as reflected in the recent calls for co-production as part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. KCP practices hold much promise for generating meaningful marine conservation and resource management outcomes, yet without a careful examination of the interplay of governance context and co-production process, those aspirations are unlikely to be met, and may in fact exacerbate inequities of power and how knowledge is prioritized. The reflective analysis of the examples and organizational contexts here have sought to highlight, in particular, the interplay among KCP and governance and draw attention to a series of tensions, issues, and opportunities that emerge from the broader governance contexts in which knowledge practices are situated (Table 1).
KCP clearly emphasizes the importance of conscious partnerships among different groups of people to address sometimes contested objectives (Clark and Dickson 2003). Conscious partnerships involve participants choosing to work together on an issue in which different forms of knowledge are woven into decision-making to produce new insights and varied outcomes (Miller and Wyborn 2020). However, engaging in a KCP process without consideration of, for example, historical and colonial governance contexts in coastal and marine settings (see Silver et al. 2022) can result in processes of dispossession from resources, places, knowledge, and their cultural contexts. In most settings, including the examples we have highlighted here, KCP is not simply an instrumental strategy to bring people together, but a catalyst to shift the institutional relationships that govern power and knowledge in the first place. Such a shift helps to reframe relationships among society and science, state and citizen (Ostrom 1996, Lemos and Morehouse 2005, Cash et al. 2006b, Wyborn et al. 2019), and navigate spaces of reconciliation and Nation-to-Nation relationships with Indigenous peoples in the lands and seas that are sites of so many conservation and resource management initiatives. As we have illustrated with several examples from our reflections here, much of the literature and examples of practice about KCP in the sustainability literature have struggled to account fully for its potential to exacerbate historic patterns of racial oppression or to articulate how knowledge processes can serve to foster more anticolonial and emancipatory, equitable, and just governance approaches. We have drawn some initial links to these issues through our reflections and the cases here, yet we note that the future of KCP will require much more comprehensive and systematic engagement with such challenges.
RESPONSES TO THIS ARTICLE
Responses to this article are invited. If accepted for publication, your response will be hyperlinked to the article. To submit a response, follow this link. To read responses already accepted, follow this link.
We acknowledge the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
Data/code sharing is not applicable to this article because no data and code were analyzed in this study.
Agrawal, A. K. 2001. University-to-industry knowledge transfer: literature review and unanswered questions. International Journal of Management Reviews 3(4):285-302. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2370.00069
Alfred, T., and J. Corntassel. 2005. Being Indigenous: resurgences against contemporary colonialism. Government and Opposition 40(4):597-614. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1477-7053.2005.00166.x
Armitage, D., F. Berkes, A. Dale, E. Kocho-Schellenberg, and E. Patton. 2011. Co-management and the co-production of knowledge: learning to adapt in Canada’s Arctic. Global Environmental Change 21(3):995-1004. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.04.006
Armitage, D. R., D. K. Okamoto, J. J. Silver, T. B. Francis, P. S. Levin, A. E. Punt, I. P. Davies, J. S. Cleary, S. C. Dressel, R. R. Jones, H. Kitka, L. C. Lee, A. D. MacCall, J. A. McIsaac, M. R. Poe, S. Reifenstuhl, A. O. Shelton, J. O. Schmidt, T. F. Thornton, R. Voss, and J. Woodruff. 2019. Integrating governance and quantitative evaluation of resource management strategies to improve social and ecological outcomes. Bioscience 69(7):523-532. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz059
Artelle, K. A., M. Zurba, J. Bhattacharyya, D. E. Chan, K. Brown, J. Housty, and F. Moola. 2019. Supporting resurgent Indigenous-led governance: a nascent mechanism for just and effective conservation. Biological Conservation 240:108284. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108284
Bednarek, A. T., C. Wyborn, C. Cvitanovic, R. Meyer, R. M. Colvin, P. F. E. Addison, S. L. Close, K. Curran, M. Farooque, E. Goldman, D. Hart, H. Mannix, B. McGreavy, A. Parris, S. Posner, C. Robinson, M. Ryan, and P. Leith. 2018. Boundary spanning at the science–policy interface: the practitioners’ perspectives. Sustainability Science 13:1175-1183. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0550-9
Berkes, F. 2003. Can cross-scale linkages increase the resilience of social-ecological systems? Draft conference paper. RCSD International Conference, Politics of the commons: articulating development and strengthening local practices. https://hdl.handle.net/10535/216
Bhandar, B. 2018. Colonial lives of property: law, land, and racial regimes of ownership. Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, USA. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822371571
Bremer, S., and S. Meisch. 2017. Co-production in climate change research: reviewing different perspectives. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 8(6):e482. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.482
Buckley, S., and A. Giannakopoulos. 2011. Knowledge sharing through communities of practice. Pages 103-112 in G. Turner and C. Minnone, editors. Proceedings of the 3rd European conference on intellectual capital. Academic Conferences and Publishing, Reading, UK.
Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. 2003. The theory and practice of knowledge brokering in Canada’s health system. Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Ottawa, Canada. https://www.ktpathways.ca/resources/theory-and-practice-knowledge-brokering-canadas-health-system
Cash, D. W., W. N. Adger, F. Berkes, P. Garden, L. Lebel, P. Olsson, L. Pritchard, and O. Young. 2006a. Scale and cross-scale dynamics: governance and information in a multilevel world. Ecology and Society 11(2):8. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-01759-110208
Cash, D. W., J. C. Borck, and A. G. Patt. 2006b. Countering the loading-dock approach to linking science and decision making: comparative analysis of El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecasting systems. Science, Technology, and Human Values 31(4):465-494. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243906287547
Chambers, J. M., C. Wyborn, N. L. Klenk, M. Ryan, A. Serban, N. J. Bennett, R. Brennan, L. Charli-Joseph, K. A. Galvin, B. E. Goldstein, T. Haller, R. Hill, C. Munera, J. L. Nel, H. Österblom, R. S. Reid, M. Riechers, M. Spierenburg, M. Tengö, E. Bennett, A. Brandeis, P. Chatterton, J. J. Cockburn, C. Cvitanovic, P. Dumrongrojwatthana, A. Paz Durán, J.-D. Gerber, J. M. H. Green, R. Gruby, A. M. Guerrero, A.-I. Horcea-Milcu, J. Montana, P. Steyaert, J. G. Zaehringer, A. T. Bednarek, K. Curran, S. J. Fada, J. Hutton, B. Leimona, T. Pickering, and R. Rondeau. 2022. Co-productive agility and four collaborative pathways to sustainability transformations. Global Environmental Change 72:102422. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2021.102422
Chambers, J. M., C. Wyborn, M. E. Ryan, R. S. Reid, M. Riechers, A. Serban, N. J. Bennett, C. Cvitanovic, M. E. Fernández-Giménez, K. A. Galvin, B. E. Goldstein, N. L. Klenk, M. Tengö, R. Brennan, J. J. Cockburn, R. Hill, C. Munera, J. L. Nel, H. Österblom, A. T. Bednarek, E. M. Bennett, A. Brandeis, L. Charli-Joseph, P. Chatterton, K. Curran, P. Dumrongrojwatthana, A. Paz Durán, S. J. Fada, J.-D. Gerber, J. M. H. Green, A. M. Guerrero, T. Haller, A.-I. Horcea-Milcu, B. Leimona, J. Montana, R. Rondeau, M. Spierenburg, P. Steyaert, J. G. Zaehringer, R. Gruby, J. Hutton, and T. Pickering. 2021. Six modes of co-production for sustainability. Nature Sustainability 4:983-996. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00755-x
Ciuk, S., J. Koning, and M. Kostera. 2018. Organizational ethnographies. Pages 270-285 in C. Cassell, A. L. Cunliffe, and G. Grandy, editors. SAGE handbook of qualitative business and management research methods: history and traditions. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California, USA. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526430212.n17
Clark, W. C., and N. M. Dickson. 2003. Sustainability science: the emerging research program. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100(14):8059-8061. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1231333100
Coulthard, G. 2010. Place against empire: understanding Indigenous anti-colonialism. Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action 4:79-83. https://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/affinities/article/view/6141
Creswell, J. W., and J. D. Creswell. 2017. Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Fifth edition. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California, USA.
Cvitanovic, C., M. Howden, R. M. Colvin, A. Norström, A. M. Meadow, and P. F. E. Addison. 2019. Maximising the benefits of participatory climate adaptation research by understanding and managing the associated challenges and risks. Environmental Science and Policy 94:20-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2018.12.028
Cvitanovic, C., R. J. Shellock, M. Mackay, E. I. van Putten, D. B. Karcher, M. Dickey-Collas, and M. Ballesteros. 2021. Strategies for building and managing ‘trust’ to enable knowledge exchange at the interface of environmental science and policy. Environmental Science and Policy 123:179-189. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2021.05.020
Daniel, R. 2019. Understanding our environment requires an Indigenous worldview. Eos 100. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EO137482
Derickson, K. D. 2022. Disrupting displacements: making knowledges for futures otherwise in Gullah/Geechee Nation. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 112(3):838-846. https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2021.1996219
Djenontin, I. N. S., and A. M. Meadow. 2018. The art of co-production of knowledge in environmental sciences and management: lessons from international practice. Environmental Management 61(6):885-903. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-018-1028-3
Dorries, H. 2022. What is planning without property? Relational practices of being and belonging. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 40(2):306-318. https://doi.org/10.1177/02637758211068505
Fazey, I., N. Schäpke, G. Caniglia, J. Patterson, J. Hultman, B. van Mierlo, F. Säwe, A. Wiek, J. Wittmayer, P. Aldunce, H. Al Waer, N. Battacharya, H. Bradbury, E. Carmen, J. Colvin, C. Cvitanovic, M. D’Souza, M. Gopel, B. Goldstein, T. Hämäläinen, G. Harper, T. Henfry, A. Hodgson, M. S. Howden, A. Kerr, M. Klaes, C. Lyon, G. Midgley, S. Moser, N. Mukherjee, K. Müller, K. O’Brien, D. A. O’Connell, P. Olsson, G. Page, M. S. Reed, B. Searle, G. Silvestri, V. Spaiser, T. Strasser, P. Tschakert, N. Uribe-Calvo, S. Waddell, J. Rao-Williams, R. Wise, R. Wolstenholme, M. Woods, and C. Wyborn. 2018. Ten essentials for action-oriented and second order energy transitions, transformations and climate change research. Energy Research and Social Science 40:54-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.11.026
Forsyth, T. 2002. Critical political ecology: the politics of environmental science. Routledge, London, UK. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203017562
Goldman, M. J., M. D. Turner, and M. Daly. 2018. A critical political ecology of human dimensions of climate change: epistemology, ontology, and ethics. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 9(4):e526. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.526
Graham, I. D., J. Logan, M. B. Harrison, S. E. Straus, J. Tetroe, W. Caswell, and N. Robinson. 2006. Lost in knowledge translation: time for a map? Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 26(1):13-24. https://doi.org/10.1002/chp.47
Greenhalgh, T., G. Robert, F. Macfarlane, P. Bate, and O. Kyriakidou. 2004. Diffusion of innovations in service organizations: systematic review and recommendations. Milbank Quarterly 82(4):581-629. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0887-378X.2004.00325.x
Harris, C. 2004. How did colonialism dispossess? Comments from an edge of empire. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 94(1):165-182. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8306.2004.09401009.x
Harris, D. C. 2008. Landing native fisheries: Indian Reserves and fishing rights in British Columbia, 1849–1925. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, Canada. https://doi.org/10.59962/9780774856102
Harris, D. C., and P. Millerd. 2010. Food fish, commercial fish, and fish to support a moderate livelihood: characterizing Aboriginal and treaty rights to Canadian fisheries. Arctic Review on Law and Politics 1(1):82-107. https://doi.org/10.23865/arctic.v1.2
Hill, R., F. J. Walsh, J. Davies, A. Sparrow, M. Mooney, Central Land Council, R. M. Wise, and M. Tengö. 2020. Knowledge co-production for Indigenous adaptation pathways: transform post-colonial articulation complexes to empower local decision-making. Global Environmental Change 65:102161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102161
Hutchings, J. A., and R. A. Myers. 1994. What can be learned from the collapse of a renewable resource? Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua, of Newfoundland and Labrador. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 51(9):2126-2146 https://doi.org/10.1139/f94-214
Jasanoff, S. 1996. Beyond epistemology: relativism and engagement in the politics of science. Social Studies of Science 26(2):393-418. https://doi.org/10.1177/030631296026002008
Jasanoff, S., editor. 2004. States of knowledge: the co-production of science and the social order. Routledge, London, UK.
Jessen, T. D., N. C. Ban, N. X. Claxton, and C. T. Darimont. 2022. Contributions of Indigenous knowledge to ecological and evolutionary understanding. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 20(2):93-101. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.2435
Karcher, D. B., C. Cvitanovic, R. Shellock, A. J. Hobday, R. L. Stephenson, M. Dickey-Collas, and I. E. van Putten. 2022b. More than money - the costs of knowledge exchange at the interface of science and policy. Ocean and Coastal Management 225:106194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2022.106194
Karcher, D. B., C. Cvitanovic, I. E. van Putten, R. M. Colvin, D. Armitage, S. Aswani, M. Ballesteros, N. C. Ban, M. J. Barragán-Paladines, A. Bednarek, J. D. Bell, C. M. Brooks, T. M. Daw, R. de la Cruz-Modino, T. B. Francis, E. A. Fulton, A. J. Hobday, D. Holcer, C. Hudson, T. C. Jennerjahn, A. Kinney, M. Knol-Kauffman, M. F. Löf, P. F. M. Lopes, P. C. Mackelworth, A. McQuatters-Gollop, E.-K. Muhl, P. Neihapi, J. J. Pascual-Fernández, S. M. Posner, H. Runhaar, K. Sainsbury, G. Sander, D. J. Steenbergen, P. M. Tuda, E. Whiteman, and J. Zhang. 2022a. Lessons from bright-spots for advancing knowledge exchange at the interface of marine science and policy. Journal of Environmental Management 314:114994. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.114994
Lemos, M. C., J. C. Arnott, N. M. Ardoin, K. Baja, A. T. Bednarek, A. Dewulf, C. Fieseler, K. A. Goodrich, K. Jagannathan, N. Klenk, K. J. Mach, A. M. Meadow, R. Meyer, R. Moss, L. Nichols, K. D. Sjostrom, M. Stults, E. Turnhout, C. Vaughan, G. Wong-Parodi, and C. Wyborn. 2018. To co-produce or not to co-produce. Nature Sustainability 1:722-724. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-018-0191-0
Lemos, M. C., and B. J. Morehouse. 2005. The co-production of science and policy in integrated climate assessments. Global Environmental Change 15(1):57-68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2004.09.004
Levesque, P., S. Davidson, and K. Kidder. 2007. Knowledge exchange for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder research: an integrated evidence and knowledge exchange framework leading to more effective research dissemination practices. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 16(2):51-56. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2242634/
Levin, B. 2008. Thinking about knowledge mobilization. A discussion paper prepared at the request of the Canadian Council on Learning and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Canadian Council on Learning, Toronto, Canada. https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/about-au_sujet/publications/KMb_-_LevinDiscussionPaper_-_E.pdf
Liboiron, M. 2021. Pollution is colonialism. Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, USA. https://doi.org/10.1215/9781478021445
Lin, Y. C., L. C. Wang, and H. P. Tserng. 2006. Enhancing knowledge exchange through web map-based knowledge management system in construction: lessons learned in Taiwan. Automation in Construction 15(6):693-705. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2005.09.006
Littlechild, D. B., C. Finegan, and D. McGregor. 2021. “Reconciliation” in undergraduate education in Canada: the application of Indigenous knowledge in conservation. Facets 6:665-685. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2020-0076
M’sit No’kmaq, A. Marshall, K. F. Beazley, J. Hum, s. joudry, A. Papadopoulos, S. Pictou, J. Rabesca, L. Young, and M. Zurba. 2021. “Awakening the sleeping giant”: re-Indigenization principles for transforming biodiversity conservation in Canada and beyond. Facets 6:839-869. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2020-0083
Mahajan, S. L., Estradivari, L. Ojwang, and G. N. Ahmadia. 2023. The good, the bad, and the ugly: reflections on co-designing science for impact between the Global South and Global North. ICES Journal of Marine Science 80(2):390-393. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsac115
Meyer, M. 2010. The rise of the knowledge broker. Science Communication 32(1):118-127. https://doi.org/10.1177/1075547009359797
Milich, L. 1999. Resource mismanagement versus sustainable livelihoods: the collapse of the Newfoundland cod fishery. Society and Natural Resources 12(7):625-642. https://doi.org/10.1080/089419299279353
Miller, C. A., and C. Wyborn. 2020. Co-production in global sustainability: histories and theories. Environmental Science and Policy 113:88-95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2018.01.016
Mills, K. E., D. Armitage, J. G. Eurich, K. M. Kleisner, G. T. Pecl, and K. Tokunaga. 2023. Co-production of knowledge and strategies to support climate resilient fisheries. ICES Journal of Marine Science 80(2):358-361. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsac110
Moola, F., and R. Roth. 2019. Moving beyond colonial conservation models: Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas offer hope for biodiversity and advancing reconciliation in the Canadian boreal forest. Environmental Reviews 27(2):200-201. https://doi.org/10.1139/er-2018-0091
Muhl, E. K., D. Armitage, J. Silver, T. Swerdfager, and H. Thorpe. 2022. Indicators are relational: navigating knowledge and power in the development and implementation of coastal-marine indicators. Environmental Management 70:448-463. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-022-01670-3
Nadasdy, P. 1999. The politics of TEK: power and the “integration” of knowledge. Arctic Anthropology 36(1-2):1-18. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40316502
Norström, A. V., C. Cvitanovic, M. F. Löf, S. West, C. Wyborn, P. Balvanera, A. T. Bednarek, E. M. Bennett, R. Biggs, A. de Bremond, B. M. Campbell, J. G. Canadell, S. R. Carpenter, C. Folke, E. A. Fulton, O. Gaffney, S. Gelcich, J.-B. Jouffray, M. Leach, M. Le Tissier, B. Martín-López, E. Louder, M.-F. Loutre, A. M. Meadow, H. Nagendra, D. Payne, G. D. Peterson, B. Reyers, R. Scholes, C. Ifejika Speranza, M. Spierenburg, M. Stafford-Smith, M. Tengö, S. van der Hel, I. van Putten, and H. Österblom. 2020. Principles for knowledge co-production in sustainability research. Nature Sustainability 3:182-190. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0448-2
Ostrom, E. 1996. Crossing the great divide: coproduction, synergy, and development. World Development 24(6):1073-1087. https://doi.org/10.1016/0305-750X(96)00023-X
Parsons, M., K. Fisher, and R. P. Crease. 2021. Decolonising blue spaces in the Anthropocene: freshwater management in Aotearoa New Zealand. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, Switzerland. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61071-5
Paul-Burke, K., T. O’Brien, J. Burke, and C. Bluett. 2020. Mapping Māori knowledge from the past to inform marine management futures. New Zealand Science Review 76(1-2):32-41. https://doi.org/10.26686/nzsr.v76i1-2.7831
Reid, A. J., L. E. Eckert, J.-F. Lane, N. Young, S. G. Hinch, C. T. Darimont, S. J. Cooke, N. C. Ban, and A. Marshall. 2021. “Two-eyed seeing”: an Indigenous framework to transform fisheries research and management. Fish and Fisheries 22(2):243-261. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12516
Robards, M. D., H. P. Huntington, M. Druckenmiller, J. Lefevre, S. K. Moses, Z. Stevenson, A. Watson, and M. Williams. 2018. Understanding and adapting to observed changes in the Alaskan Arctic: actionable knowledge co-production with Alaska Native communities. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 152:203-213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2018.02.008
Root-Bernstein, M., P. du Plessis, M. Guerrero-Gatica, T. Narayan, S. Roturier, and H. C. Wheeler. 2023. What are ILK in relation to science? Using the ‘ethic of equivocation’ to co-produce new knowledge for conservation. Sustainability 15(3):1831. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15031831
Salomon, A. K., D. K. Okamoto, K. B. J. Wilson, H. T. Happynook, Wickaninnish, W. A. Mack, S. H. A. Davidson, G. Guujaaw, W. W. H. L. Humchitt, T. M. Happynook, W. C. Cox, H. F. Gillette, N. S. Christiansen, D. Dragon, H. M. Kobluk, L. C. Lee, M. T. Tinker, J. J. Silver, D. Armitage, I. McKechnie, A. MacNeil, D. Hillis, E.-K. Muhl, E. J. Gregr, C. J. C. Commander, and A. Augustine. 2023. Disrupting and diversifying the values, voices and governance principles that shape biodiversity science and management. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 378(1881):20220196. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2022.0196
Schneider, F., T. Tribaldos, C. Adler, R. Biggs, A. de Bremond, T. Buser, C. Krug, M.-F. Loutre, S. Moore, A. V. Norström, K. Paulavets, D. Urbach, E. Spehn, G. Wülser, and R. Zondervan. 2021. Co-production of knowledge and sustainability transformations: a strategic compass for global research networks. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 49:127-142. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2021.04.007
Schwermer, H., A. M. Blöcker, C. Möllmann, and M. Döring. 2021. The ‘cod-multiple’: modes of existence of fish, science and people. Sustainability 13(21):12229. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112229
Scott, J. C. 1998. Seeing like a state: how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Silver, J. J. 2013. Neoliberalizing coastal space and subjects: on shellfish aquaculture projections, interventions and outcomes in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Rural Studies 32:430-438. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2013.10.003
Silver, J. J., D. K. Okamoto, D. Armitage, S. M. Alexander, C. Atleo, J. M. Burt, R. Jones, L. C. Lee, E.-K. Muhl, A. K. Salomon, and J. S. Stoll. 2022. Fish, people, and systems of power: understanding and disrupting feedback between colonialism and fisheries science. American Naturalist 200(1):168-180. https://doi.org/10.1086/720152
Starman, A. B. 2013. The case study as a type of qualitative research. Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies/Sodobna Pedagogika 64(1). https://www.sodobna-pedagogika.net/en/articles/01-2013_the-case-study-as-a-type-of-qualitative-research/
Steger, C., G. Nigussie, M. Alonzo, B. Warkineh, J. Van Den Hoek, M. Fekadu, P. H. Evangelista, and J. A. Klein. 2020. Knowledge coproduction improves understanding of environmental change in the Ethiopian highlands. Ecology and Society 25(2):2. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-11325-250202
Straus, S. E., J. Tetroe, and I. Graham. 2009. Defining knowledge translation. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal 181(3-4):165-168. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.081229
Tengö, M., E. S. Brondizio, T. Elmqvist, P. Malmer, and M. Spierenburg. 2014. Connecting diverse knowledge systems for enhanced ecosystem governance: the multiple evidence base approach. Ambio 43:579-591. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-014-0501-3
Todd, Z. 2016. An Indigenous feminist’s take on the ontological turn: ‘ontology’ is just another word for colonialism. Journal of Historical Sociology, 29(1):4-22. https://doi.org/10.1111/johs.12124
Todd, Z. 2018. Refracting the state through human-fish relations: fishing, Indigenous legal orders and colonialism in north/western Canada. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society 7(1):60-75. https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/des/article/view/30393
Turnhout, E., T. Metze, C. Wyborn, N. Klenk, and E. Louder. 2020. The politics of co-production: participation, power, and transformation. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 42:15-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2019.11.009
Vincent, K., S. Carter, A. Steynor, E. Visman, and K. L. Wågsaether. 2020. Addressing power imbalances in co-production. Nature Climate Change 10:877-878. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-00910-w
Whyte, K. 2018. Settler colonialism, ecology, and environmental injustice. Environment and Society 9(1):125-144. https://doi.org/10.3167/ares.2018.090109
Winter, K. B., K. Beamer, M. B. Vaughan, A. M. Friedlander, M. H. Kido, A. N. Whitehead, M. K. H. Akutagawa, N. Kurashima, M. P. Lucas, and B. Nyberg. 2018. The moku system: managing biocultural resources for abundance within social-ecological regions in Hawaiʻi. Sustainability 10(10):3554. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103554
Wolfe, P. 2006. Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native. Journal of Genocide Research 8(4):387-409. https://doi.org/10.1080/14623520601056240
Wyborn, C., A. Datta, J. Montana, M. Ryan, P. Leith, B. Chaffin, C. Miller, and L. van Kerkhoff. 2019. Co-producing sustainability: reordering the governance of science, policy, and practice. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 44:319-346. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-101718-033103
Yanow, D. 2012. Organizational ethnography between toolbox and world-making. Journal of Organizational Ethnography 1(1):31-42. https://doi.org/10.1108/202466741211220633
Ybema, S., and F. Kamsteeg. 2009. Making the familiar strange: a case for disengaged organizational ethnography. Pages 101-119 in S. Ybema, D. Yanow, H. Wels, and F. Kamsteeg, editors. Organizational ethnography: studying the complexities of everyday life. Sage, London, UK. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446278925.n6
Yin, R. K. 2014. Case study research: design and methods. Fifth edition. Sage, London, UK.
Zurba, M., M. A. Petriello, C. Madge, P. McCarney, B. Bishop, S. McBeth, M. Denniston, H. Bodwitch, and M. Bailey. 2022. Learning from knowledge co-production research and practice in the twenty-first century: global lessons and what they mean for collaborative research in Nunatsiavut. Sustainability Science 17(2):449-467. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-021-00996-x
Table 1. Synthesis of key messages in knowledge co-production (KCP).
|Theme||Synthesis of key messages|
|Motivation||• Relationships and shared values are core to starting an effective governance process. They also reflect knowledge practices and a commitment to share power: They are central to how problem contexts and goals are framed|
|• Cultural obligation or responsibility (sense of duty) can underpin motivations. For example, a spiritual connection to the land requires a person to “be a good ancestor.” Notions of being a good ancestor are also linked to a relational perspective within knowledge systems|
|Identities and positionality||• KCP processes build friendships, relationships, and partnerships, yet individual identities are multidimensional. Often, decisions are made that will affect a community within which a decision maker is situated. This circumstance makes the decision maker accountable for the position of power they hold and the manner in which they value different knowledge (i.e., Indigenous, local)|
|• The positionality of marginalized groups can undermine KCP if their knowledge is not shared and there is no coordination; these factors can create sense of individualism, undermining the process|
|• Unexpected events (i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic) showed that relationships of power can be restructured. For example, practitioners and communities in Papua New Guinea moved away from a hierarchical or linear knowledge approach and toward a co-production model|
|Governance capacity and spatial or temporal tensions||• Ecological dynamics (e.g., of cod) interact with systems of power or knowledge (i.e., top-down governance, an emphasis on scientific knowledge) to generate significant constraints on KCP. Such constraints manifest in temporal and spatial mismatches between problem understanding and efforts to take action|
|• Time can be used as a strategic leverage point in KCP processes in some governance efforts in which sharing of power is expected but not easily achieved. Such leverage points include: (1) using inaction or forms of passive resistance to increase pressure on external actors that are not engaging as meaningfully as their mandates suggest they should, and (2) waiting out a person in a position of authority who may impede meaningful work|
|Institutional reform and links to governance||• In-person experiences with those engaged in KCP in specific places where ecology, knowledge, and cultures are shared helps to build collaborative connections and create bridges across institutional and governance barriers; such experiences in specific places creates a more even playing field, regardless of position of power|
|• Legal and statutory frameworks (especially in situations with Indigenous peoples) may be a crucial lever of power to support sovereignty and privilege diverse knowledge systems. Legal frameworks (or clearly articulated agreements) also serve to hold all members of a KCP process accountable|
|• Awareness of how to benefit from political leverage points is a key aspect of engendering KCP in messy governance contexts. Elections, crises, and social media campaigns can provide a context to support the efforts of less powerful actors in the collaborative process|
|Information sharing and data sovereignty||• Products of KCP practices (e.g., academic publications, data sets, etc.) enable certain cultural discourses and languages (i.e., those aligned with an expert and western science perspective). In turn, those products can undermine or marginalize others, and efforts are needed to prioritize other means of communication|
|• Data and knowledge sharing is important for learning and empowerment, but there are relations of power embedded in choices about sharing of what and by whom. Shared protocols are needed to reduce potential uncertainties or conflicts that have the potential to harm some groups more than others (e.g., ensuring that customary knowledge about key ecological processes, sites, or cultural practices are respected in data sovereignty efforts)|
|• KCP process generate tension between the importance of knowledge sharing to support or challenge governance processes and the need for data sovereignty. This tension is imbued with relations of power, and sensitivity to these tensions is crucial to trust-building and future willingness to share information and knowledge in governance contexts that remain predominately centralized|