Valuation and decision-making in NZ’s marine environment

Marlborough Sounds. Credit: Jim Sinner, Cawthron Institute

A study from researchers in the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge has found that processes to include people’s values in marine management and decision-making in New Zealand can be damaging for the people involved.

A team of researchers led by Jim Sinner (Cawthron Institute) interviewed people who had made submissions over the last decade on marine management issues affecting the Marlborough Sounds. Contentious issues included setting up new salmon farms, sedimentation from land use practices and the operating speed of inter-island ferries in the Sounds.

The team found that formal processes of making submissions on these issues can be alienating, financially and emotionally draining, and demoralising, particularly when local knowledge or expertise was undervalued or delegitimised. Processes like these can leave communities shaken, conflict-riven and unhappy, and can undermine democratic processes.

Changes in the way that people’s values are elicited and received could improve these processes, such as providing spaces where people feel comfortable to articulate their values, using a range of methods, and legitimising local and Māori knowledge and aspirations.

“In contrast to formal valuation processes that can be intimidating, we found that informal ways of experiencing, listening to and walking beside iwi and local residents can be powerful ways to receive and better appreciate their values,” says Dr Charlotte Šunde, (Cawthron Institute) the lead author of an article about the study published in Marine Policy

Journal article:

Šunde C, Sinner J, Tadaki M, Stephenson J, Glavovic B, Awatere S, Giorgetti A, Lewis N Young A and Chan K (2018). Valuation as destruction? The social effects of valuation processes in contested marine spaces. Marine Policy 97, 170-178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2018.05.024

Date posted: 29/10/2018

Programme type: Valuable Seas

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