Special Section: Political ecology of professional practice: plurality and possibilities in environmental governance, edited by Sam Staddon, Floriane Clement and Bimbika Sijapati Basnett

Realigning practices of care and environmental governance: findings and reflections from a transdisciplinary research project in Wales (UK)

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This article presents This article presents findings from a transdisciplinary research project on collaborative practices for the sustainable management of natural resources (SMNR) in Wales. Here, the legislation establishes that the national well-being agenda and the principle of SMNR in environmental governance must be achieved through collaborative and participatory practices, across sectors and organisations, including within the public sector. However, neoliberal and hyper-bureaucratic governance structures, characterized by a risk-adverse nature, do not allow public sector institutional actors to experiment and engage with such practices in their everyday work. This article discusses a collective experience of reflecting on, and challenging such oppressing neoliberal structures, through experimenting with alternative ways of doing and being together. The emerging community at the heart of this experience is composed of policymakers, practitioners, artists, and academics (including the authors), who together carved out a 'site of negotiation' to contest techno-managerialism and mere rational approaches to (natural resources) governance. In the course of this research, these actors began to collectively create and shape new and shared meanings of doing collaborative and cross-boundary work (as required by the Welsh legislation), based on relationships of trust, reflexivity, embodiment, and relationality. Reflecting also on our own experience (and interpretation) of working alongside them, we believe that such emergent processes of collective meaning-making have the potential to transform neoliberal (environmental) governance structures into 'lived' and 'owned' institutions. Inspired by relational, integrative and caring forms of democratic governance, we argue that professionals in public sector organisations can realign governance structures in ways that meet the challenge of enabling the rapid and wide sustainability transformations that are so desperately needed.

Keywords: environmental governance, care, transdisciplinarity, collaborative practice, sustainability transformation

How to Cite: Giambartolomei, G. , Franklin, A. & Fried, J. (2023) “Realigning practices of care and environmental governance: findings and reflections from a transdisciplinary research project in Wales (UK)”, Journal of Political Ecology. 30(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/jpe.5075