Strategies for handling uncertainty in international environmental policy

  • Degnbol, Ditte (Project Participant)
  • Sverdrup-Jensen, Sten (Other)
  • Horst, Maja (Other)
  • Holm, Petter (Other)

Project Details


An increasing number of environmental problems are characterised by being global in scale and long-term in their potential effects. They are dynamic and involve major ecosystems and multiple variables. Hence the scientific knowledge that is meant to inform environmental policies is filled with uncertainties, and the public awareness of this is increasing. Whereas the traditional role of science for environmental regulation has been to form a solid, neutral and legitimising basis for decision-making, new strategies are needed. The project explores this issue taking an outset in the implementation of Natura 2000, an EU-wide network of protected areas for the protection of biodiversity. By following scientific and advisory practices in the UK and Germany, two different strategies for producing and handling uncertainty in negotiations with stakeholders, managers and policymakers are compared.
The particular case is that of Dogger Bank, a major bank below sea level in the middle of the North Sea. Since 2002 the UK, Germany and the Netherlands have been working hard to determine where in their respective offshore EEZs the Dogger Bank begins to be a sandbank. The objective has been to define the boundaries of Natura 2000 marine protected areas for the protection of habitat type 1110 in the EU Habitats Directive: ‘sandbanks slightly covered by seawater all the time’. The project follows the scientific process of defining boundaries in the German and UK EEZs – the methodological choices, scientific debates and negotiations with policymakers and stakeholders.
The thesis concludes with a more general discussion of the role of science for international environmental policy and of different strategies for handling uncertainty in the interface between science and international environmental policy.
The study draws on document readings, qualitative interviews with scientists, stakeholders and managers and observations of a number of meetings. The work is funded by the EU 7th FP project JAKFISH.
Effective start/end date01/11/200801/02/2012


  • EU 7th Framework Programme


  • Environmental policy
  • Ecosystems
  • Environmental regulations
  • Natura 2000
  • Biodiversity
  • Stakeholder
  • Governance


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