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Integrating Multiple Knowledge Systems into Environmental Decision-making: Two Case Studies of Participatory Biodiversity Initiatives in Canada and their Implications for Conceptions of Education and Public Involvement


  • Elin Kelsey


Biodiversity initiatives have traditionally operated within a 'science-first' model of environmental decision-making. The model assumes a hierarchical relationship in which scientific knowledge is elevated above other knowledge systems. Consequently, other types of knowledge held by the public, such as traditional or lay knowledges, are undervalued and under-represented in biodiversity projects. Drawing upon two case studies of biodiversity initiatives in Canada, this paper looks at the role that constructivist conceptions of education play in the integration of alternative knowledge systems in environmental decision-making. In so doing, it argues that the conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing goals outlined by the Convention on Biological Diversity (signed in 1992 under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Programme) demand new models of governance which embrace the adaptive management qualities of learning organisations.

Suggested Citation

  • Elin Kelsey, 2003. "Integrating Multiple Knowledge Systems into Environmental Decision-making: Two Case Studies of Participatory Biodiversity Initiatives in Canada and their Implications for Conceptions of Education and ," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 12(3), pages 337-396, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev12:ev1218

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    Cited by:

    1. Witchuda Srang-iam, 2013. "Decontextualized Knowledge, Situated Politics: The New Scientific–Local Politics of Rice Genetic Resources in Thailand," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 44(1), pages 1-27, January.

    More about this item


    Biodiversity; education; traditional knowledge; environmental decision-making; public; constructivism; adaptive management; learning organisation;

    JEL classification:

    • D46 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Value Theory
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation


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