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Science for Policy: The Role of Science in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

By Deidre Koolen-Bourke and Raewyn Peart
August 2022

The Environmental Defence Society’s ‘Better Linking Science to Policy’ Project commenced in April 2021. Its objective is to explore the dynamics operating at the crucial science-policy interface through a case study of the development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) 2020. The work was funded as part of the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, through Challenge contractor AgResearch.

The project investigated the role of science in the policy-making process in order to deepen understanding of the science-policy interface and the ways in which the scientific basis underpinning policy might be strengthened to better support good environmental decision-making.

A core strand of the project focused on the relationship between contemporary science and mātauranga Māori, the latter being an important knowledge input into modern evidence-based policy processes. We investigated potential synergies between mātauranga Māori and science, particularly those aspects of the ecological sciences which take a holistic systems-based approach. We also sought to identify some of the tensions between the two knowledge systems.