Co-Producing Sustainability: Reordering the Governance of Science, Policy, and Practice

Carina Wyborn, Amber Datta, Jasper Montana, Melanie Ryan, Peat Leith, Brian Chaffin, Clark Miller, Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

232 Scopus citations


Co-production has become a cornerstone of research within the sustainability sciences, motivating collaborations of diverse actors to conduct research in the service of societal and policy change. This review examines theoretical and empirical literature from sustainability science, public administration, and science and technology studies (STS) with the intention of advancing the theory and practice of co-production within sustainability science. We argue that co-production must go beyond stakeholder engagement by scientists to the more deliberate design of societal transitions. Co-production can contribute to such transitions by shifting the institutional arrangements that govern relationships between knowledge and power, science and society, and state and citizens. We highlight critical weaknesses in conceptualizations of co-production within sustainability sciences with respect to power, politics, and governance. We offer suggestions for how this can be rectified through deeper engagement with public administration and STS to offer a broad vision for enhancing the use, design, and practice of a more reflexive co-production in sustainability science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-346
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
StatePublished - Oct 17 2019


  • co-production
  • governance
  • institutions
  • power
  • science policy interface
  • sustainability


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