People, Policy and Planning

Understanding the complex inter-relationships between people and the environment.

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People, Policy and Planning

Understanding the complex inter-relationships between people and the environment.

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!  People are at the heart of every environmental challenge. We do research that helps to understand people – their histories, values, contexts, and motivations – and generate insight that can be used to resolve environmental challenges relating to freshwater management. Our team of social scientists, planners and policy researchers uses a range of established and new methods to understand human drivers of and responses to environmental change. We bring tangata whenua and communities together with scientists and policy makers to generate better social and environmental outcomes.

Interdisciplinary/Transdisciplinary Research

We draw upon a range of research disciplines and methods to investigate socio-environmental topics, collaborating internally and with external partners on projects involving:

  • Social data collection and analysis – interviews, surveys involving systematic data collection for large and varied communities and discourse analysis
  • Critical social analysis – understanding the social and cultural contexts and dynamics of environmental challenges and using this insight to inform decision making
  • Transdisciplinary science – assisting with social and cultural aspects of integrated catchment management, managing river flows and habitats, regeneration strategies and monitoring and evaluation 
  • Blue skies and theoretical social science research
Cawthron-FW-Interdisciplinary-Transdisciplinary Research - Joanne Clapcott and Mark Tadaki along the Matai

Stakeholder Engagement

Working with communities, councils, tangata whenua to identify and solve these challenges is critical to the success of intervention efforts. Cawthron researchers hold expertise in the development and facilitation of community and stakeholder engagement strategies, including designing, running and evaluating participatory processes like collaborative freshwater/catchment management planning. We bring people together to find a common purpose and identify a pathway towards achieving shared objectives.

Cawthron-FW-Interdisciplinary-Transdisciplinary Research - Stakeholder Engagement

Policy Analysis

Cawthron’s environmental research has informed national policy making for decades. We are regularly commissioned by central and local government to provide expert advice for policy making activities including policy analysis and review and the development of environmental management approaches and frameworks. This includes contributing to environmental indicators that will inform policy settings for rivers and estuaries, and research that informs New Zealand’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and its implementation. 

    Cawthron-FW-Policy Analysis

    Science Communications

    Good science communications are central to the success of freshwater/catchment management initiatives and interventions. Cawthron’s freshwater group are leaders in contemporary science communications approaches including the following fields of expertise:

    • Digital storytelling – mixed media and art science collaborations
    • Narrative methods  amplifying the histories, perspectives and values of Māori and others 
    • Science and society – understanding the use of science in decision making, the dynamics shaping public understanding of science, and how to communicate science effectively 

    Cawthron-FW-Science Communications-Robin Holmes at the Cawthron Open Dayjpg