“The Leaky Boundaries of Man-made States”: Post-normal Science as an Approach to Inquiry into the Nature of Boundaries in Environmental Governance
Global environmental governance challenges, such as the climate crisis, ocean pollution, deforestation, desertification or biodiversity loss, are among the most pressing and complex issues in the contemporary world. Both real and constructed, the challenges need to be governed in a multi-level, multi-actor and multi-sector manner. The situation is further complicated by the fact that traditional science has lost some of its credibility due to oversimplified models and simplistic claims, illegal manipulation of information, and the inadequate handling of uncertainty and complexity in the process of making scientific predictions. However, the process of scientific knowledge production may also be approached through the lens of post-normal science (PNS), particularly in the context of complex environmental governance challenges. In connection with this, the aim of this theoretical study is three-fold: to highlight the complex nature of environmental governance challenges, to outline the major tenets of the post-normal approach to science, with special emphasis on the science-policy interface, and to demonstrate the appropriateness of PNS as an approach to inquiry into the nature of boundaries in environmental governance. Primarily intended as an introduction to PNS, the article summarizes the post-normal approach to scientific knowledge production and highlights its relevance to environmental governance challenges through the notion of boundary. For this reason, PNS has not been analyzed through a critical lens, while certain issues relating to its contextualization are beyond the scope of this article.