Roundtable: Promoting reflexive governance: democratic participation and expert knowledge in Australian environmental policy-making

Event details


Date & time

Monday 14 December 2015


Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
ANU Canberra




Jonathan Pickering

How have government agencies and civil society organisations working on environmental issues brought together perspectives from research and lived experience, or sought to reconcile differences between these perspectives? How well do political actors and experts serve as custodians or advocates for the interests of future generations or non-human interests such as animals and ecosystems? Has expert input into environmental decision-making become increasingly politicised, and has environmental advocacy become increasingly professionalised?

These questions draw attention to some of the challenges involved in cultivating what political theorist John S. Dryzek refers to as ‘ecosystemic reflexivity’. Reflexivity requires institutions to seek out evidence on ecosystemic shifts and to re-evaluate their priorities in light of those shifts. Two promising means of encouraging reflexivity in environmental governance are to strengthen democratic participation and to enhance scientific and other expert input in decision-making. These two modes of involvement may be mutually reinforcing, but at other times may be at odds.

This roundtable will explore ways of encouraging reflexive environmental governance by bringing together a range of government and non-government representatives involved in environmental policy in Australia, covering issues such as protecting endangered species, divestment from fossil fuels, coal seam gas, and promoting renewable energy.

This roundtable is open to the public.


  • Gregory Andrews (Threatened Species Commissioner, Australian Government)
  • Annie Lane (Executive Director, Environment, ACT Government)
  • Tom Swann (Researcher, Australia Institute)
  • Carolyn Hendriks (Associate Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University)
  • Chris Riedy (Associate Professor, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney)
  • Moderator: Jonathan Pickering (Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra)

This roundtable is part of the 2015 Canberra Conference on Earth System Governance ( which is co-sponsored by The Australian National University and The University of Canberra.

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