Conflicting policy beliefs and informational complexities in designing a transboundary enforcement monitoring system

Remi Chandran, Robert Hoppe, Walter T. de Vries, P.Y. Georgiadou

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Recognizing the need for a crowd sourced geospatial decision support system to monitor wildlife crime, in 2005, a team of scientists at the United Nations University (UNU) designed a GIS-based transboundary monitoring system, called Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System (WEMS). The tool was intended to support the compliance monitoring task of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES Secretariat questioned the WEMS prototype due to the significant role it accorded to certain Non-governmental organizations in the information collection process. Subsequently, it led to the redesign of WEMS, where governments were the custodians of enforcement information. In this paper, we explain why the previous NGO based design of WEMS was a concern for CITES secretariat. We applied Q methodology, a research method used to study people's “subjectivity”, to elicit the ways of thinking of wildlife conservation actors in India, Japan and Thailand, countries where the NGO based WEMS were intended to be piloted. Our analysis revealed four competing perspectives of wildlife conservation, namely – ecocentrism, mix of neoliberalism and anthropocentrism, authoritarianism and scientific rationalism; each with a particular implication on the adoption of a decision support system to monitor wildlife crime. The findings of our study reveal that scientific experts cannot expect unwavering support from the other groups for their aspirations, though they agree that some form of science mechanism is one way forward in bringing a policy consensus. We conclude that, transboundary enforcement information sharing is a complex problem where information system designers or policy makers alone cannot judge its acceptance within a policy context. Since very few studies have been carried out on linking the actor-belief dynamics in a decision support system and its use in environmental policy making within the context of a MEA, this study brings more insight in understanding the inherent policy challenges in information sharing within MEAs and broadly, across the disciplines of environmental governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-460
JournalJournal of cleaner production
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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