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Operationalising sustainability science for a sustainability directive? Reflecting on three pilot projects

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The implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) will challenge traditional single discipline or single issue approaches to research, requiring instead new forms such as ‘sustainability science’. Sustainability science requires the integration of multiple perspectives to resolve place-based problems. This paper will illustrate some of the challenges and emergent understandings that were observed during three research projects that could be characterised as attempting to practice sustainability science. The first two projects focused on designing and developing an integrated assessment approach to analyse possible programmes of measures for the WFD. The third project is an evaluation of a European project that piloted specific measures that might be implemented under WFD. The findings highlight the institutional changes required to deliver sustainability science. To summarise, both the ‘rules-in-use’ and the ‘play-of-the-game’, to use the language of the institutional analysis and development framework, will have to change to provide sufficient incentives to make the transition from traditional science to sustainability science.

Keywords: Scotland; Water Framework Directive; evaluation; institutions; sustainability science; water management

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Socio-Economic Research Group, Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, Email: 2: Social and Economic Research Group, Forest Research, Alice Holt Lodge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LH

Publication date: December 1, 2007


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