Recasting knowledge governance: the struggle of accommodating divergent knowledge systems in East Java, Indonesia
The role of knowledge in environmental policy development and implementation is gaining more attention nowadays. Scholars have argued for some time that the implementation of environmental policy should appreciate the local situation more, as people’s understanding about the environment is diverse, and scientific knowledge cannot be the only knowledge to view, explain and solve environmental issues. It is believed that including the knowledge of local people can improve the implementation of environmental policies. Nevertheless, what happens when local knowledge is explicitly included in the decision-making process? Drawing on a knowledge governance conceptual framework and an analysis of documents, field observations and 35 semistructured interviews, this qualitative research investigates knowledge governance in practice through a conservation agriculture programme introduced to two rural villages in East Java, Indonesia. The programme endeavoured to integrate the scientific knowledge of public agency scientists and the local knowledge of farmers with the expectation that this integrative approach would foster social, economic and environmental sustainability and improve the water quality of the Brantas River at the same time. Inspired by Arnstein’s (1969) ladder of participation, this thesis develops a knowledge governance ladder as a way to understand and assess the processes of knowledge production in environmental decision-making in terms of power sharing, divergent ways of knowing, and the ontologies held by different groups of stakeholders. This research concludes that the knowledge governance ladder needs to incorporate a pathway of “coexistence” to move beyond current conceptions of coproduction. It is argued that coexistence highlights mutual understanding, recognition and respect for different ways of knowing and ontologies of different stakeholders. The thesis concludes that recent definitions of knowledge governance in the context of environmental management lack sufficient applicability in developing countries as they do not adequately address the existence of traditional/ or local traditions and rituals. The definition of knowledge governance should, therefore, include respect for local knowledge and the elements within it, which are traditions, rituals, and religious values. The expected goals to be achieved from knowledge governance must be based on the consent of all stakeholders without overlooking others’ beliefs and values. This thesis also provides recommendations for both practice and further research.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsknowledge governance; coexistence; scientific knowledge; local knowledge; ontology; ways of knowing; power sharing; knowledge scales; knowledge coproduction; knowledge integration; local farmers; East Java Indonesia; conservation agriculture
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