Understanding crossscale interactions

The lessons from the ACIA that are highlighted here fit well with an emerging, more general discussion about scale challenges. Cash et al. define this as a situation in which the current combination of cross-scale and cross-level interactions threatens to undermine the resilience of the human-environment system.9 In addition to the ignorance of scale and level issues and mismatches, they highlight the common assumption that there is a single, correct or best characterization of the scale and level that applies to the systems as a whole or for all actors. In studying the ACIA, I have met such assumptions in both interviews and informal discussions, which highlights the need to bring these issues to the fore in both scientific and policy communities. However, the ACIA also features examples of explicit treatment of the issues and their interactions at different scales (e.g. Chapter 7. Arctic Tundra and Polar Desert Ecosystems). The author interviews also show that issues of scale are of interest to many of the scientists involved in the ACIA.

In addition to the role of spatial dimensions, Cash et al. also highlight challenges related to temporal scales, jurisdictional scales, and various analytical scales. An example of the latter could be the generalized understanding of formal science versus local traditional knowledge. By deliberately bringing scientific and indigenous knowledge together, the ACIA provides an example of a cross-level interaction in the knowledge system that has been rare in climate change science. As discussed in earlier chapters, the

8 Folke, "Resilience: The Emergence of a Perspective for Social-Ecological Systems Analyses."

9 Cash, et al., "Scale and Cross-Scale Dynamics: Governance and Information in a Multilevel World."

regime context of the Arctic Council played a key role in making this happen. For policy makers active in shaping the future of climate governance, this should raise questions about how regimes and regime interplay facilitates or hinders such cross-level interactions in knowledge production and how this in turn can enable or disable policy makers at various levels on a jurisdictional scale. Another way of phrasing the same challenge is to ask how international conventions and cooperation should be shaped to make climate knowledge relevant and climate governance possible at all levels ranging from the local to the global.

The ACIA case shows that the current regime structure allowed knowledge production but precluded coordinated climate governance at the circumpolar regional level. In other words, members of the Arctic Council could not agree to play a direct policy role in relation to either adaptation or mitigation that could match the emerging knowledge about the vulnerability of the region. The question of policy action was left to actors at other levels of governance. Some of the reasons for this apparent mismatch between such a major efforts towards knowledge synthesis and governance capacity may be that a strong climate regime was already established at the global level through the UNFCCC. Some of the explanation may also lie in the construction of the science-policy interface, which is explored in more detail in the next section.

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