DOI: 10.12924/cis2013.01020082 |Publication Date: 12 March 2014

Knowledge Governance for Sustainable Development: A Review

Lorrae van Kerkhoff
Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Abstract: Sustainable development is a knowledge intensive process, but plagued by persistent concerns over our apparent inability to connect what we know with more sustainable practices and outcomes. While considerable attention has been given to ways we may better understand and enhance the knowledge-based processes that support the governance of social-­ecological systems, relatively few have examined the governance of knowledge itself. The institutions—rules and norms—that govern knowledge may shed light on the persistence of 'gaps' between knowledge and action. In this review I seek to answer the question: can interdisciplinary knowledge governance literature contribute to understanding and analysing the institutional knowledge-based dimensions of sustainable development? I present and analyse the concept of knowledge governance as it is emerging in a range of disciplines and practice areas, including private sector management literature and public regulation theory and practice. I then integrate the findings from this review into a model of sustainable development proposed by Nilsson et al. [1]. I show that knowledge governance (as a scale above knowledge management) can inform Nilsson et al.'s three "nested" dimensions of sustainability: human wellbeing (through access to knowledge and freedom to exercise informed choice); resource-base management (though enhancing regulation and innovation and transitions from exclusive to inclusive knowledge systems); and global public goods (by balancing public and private interests and fostering global innovation systems). This review concludes by presenting a framework that places sustainable development in the context of broader socio-political struggles towards more open, inclusive knowledge systems.

Keywords: global public goods; innovation; knowledge governance; knowledge systems; sustainable development


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