Harnessing local knowledge for scientific knowledge production: challenges and pitfalls within evidence-based sustainability studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The calls for evidence-based public policy making have increased dramatically in the last decades, and so has the interest in evidence-based sustainability studies. But questions remain about what “evidence” actually means in different contexts and if the concept travels well between different domains of application. Some of the most relevant questions asked by sustainability studies are not, and in some cases cannot be, directly answered by relying on research evidence of the kinds favored by the evidence-based movement. Therefore, sustainability studies must also harness other forms of knowledge, based on forms of practical experience. How to integrate these two sources of knowledge is one of the most fundamental epistemological and practical problems society is facing. Identifying what kind of practical experience and research evidence we need to integrate is another challenging question. We draw on examples from our research in the Global South and suggest an efficient principle, problem-feeding, for harnessing practical experience within an adapted version of evidence-based sustainability studies.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences


  • evidence-based conversation, evidence-based policy, indigenous knowledge, Local knowledge, participatory art, problem-feeding, sustainability studies
Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 6
Publication categoryResearch

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