The Science and Politics of Human Well-being: A Case Study in Cocreating Indicators for Puget Sound Restoration
Across scientific fields, there have been calls to improve the integration of scientific knowledge in policy making. Particularly since the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, these calls increasingly refer to data on human well-being related to the natural environment. However, policy decisions involve selective uptake of information across communities with different preferences and decision-making processes. Additionally, researchers face the fact that there are important trade-offs in producing knowledge that is simultaneously credible, legitimate, socially relevant, and socially just. We present a study that developed human well-being indicators for Washington State’s Puget Sound ecosystem recovery agency over 3 years. Stakeholders, decision makers, and social scientists were engaged in the identification, modification, and prioritization of well-being indicators that were adopted by the agency for tracking progress toward ecosystem recovery and strategic planning.