Spanning the Boundary between Climate Science and Local Coastal Communities: Opportunities and Challenges
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Climate science is complex and sometimes controversial. One of the challenges for coastal adaptation is spanning the boundary between the technical scientists and other stakeholders including local communities and decision-makers. The technical science is very much the domain of professional climatologists, meteorologists, modellers, oceanographers, biologists and geomorphologists. However, the application of this science to the strategic and tactical management of a local coast and ocean requires applied knowledge about the particular coast and the marine environment, including its vulnerability, community values, local politics and relationships, and formal and informal decision-making pathways. We suggest here that there are many organisations and individuals who play important roles in spanning these boundaries. Their roles include some or all of the following: bringing stakeholders together to negotiate pathways forward; translating the complex technical science into terms useful for management and conveying the needs of management or community to scientists; facilitating new applied knowledge and awareness through deliberations; and mediating conflict resulting from different priorities among the stakeholders. In this paper we focus on organisations and agents who are endeavouring to cross these long-standing boundaries and successfully move climate science information between the knowledge-makers and decision-makers in Australian coastal communities.We use two case studies to examine the opportunities and challenges for the uptake of climate science in these communities. The first case study (OceanWatch: a potential boundary organisation for enabling climate science uptake in the commercial fishing industry) is on enabling climate science uptake in the fishing industry through the potential role of a not-for-profit organisation. The second (Northern Agricultural Catchments Council: managing boundaries for coastal adaptation in the City of Geraldton and its region) explores planning for the coastal town of Geraldton, Western Australia and its surrounding region. For each case study we analyse the functions of convening, collaborating, translating and mediating played by boundary organisations and boundary spanners. We then assess their capacity to enhance the salience, credibility and legitimacy of the process.
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