Our approach

Our approach focusses on building the capacity of decision-makers to make evidence-based and transparent development decisions that can maintain or enhance the features and ecosystems that people value in a Seascape. The ultimate goal of decisions is to implement actions to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) despite rapid change and future uncertainties. We integrated three key principles which could improve decision-making in the complex context of a Seascape:

  1. Taking a holistic Ridge to Reef systems view that understands the social and ecological linkages between land and sea

A Ridge to Reef approach recognises land-sea connectivity when planning development.
East New Britain (Photo: Tom Greenwood)

2. Adaptation pathways, which has a future focus that anticipates rapid change, uncertainty and shocks, and enables stakeholders to maintain options and flexibility (Wise et al. 2014a). This concept is particularly useful in developing countries where change is rapid, and decision-making is complex and involves multiple stakeholders with varied objectives and knowledge, and multiple drivers and pressures influence decisions (Butler et al. 2014a).

Adaptation pathways involves decision-making that anticipates future change, maintains flexibility and avoids development that exacerbates pressures and shocks, keeping the ‘adaptive space’ open to achieve the SDGs.

3. Evidence-based and transparent decision-making, which is achieved by providing more relevant information, creating partnerships between important stakeholders, empowering those with less power, facilitating networks and coordination between them, and enhancing their knowledge and skills to apply the information.

Currently evidence-based decisions are not being made in the Bismarck Sea because there is inadequate information, and its use is impeded by stakeholder politics, poor networks and limited knowledge; b) our process addressed this by providing more relevant information, and creating windows of opportunity for its use by tackling stakeholder politics and enhancing networks and knowledge.