CONTESTABILITY AND GOVERNANCE

Governance and Contestable Evidence Based Planning Policy

Wigan, M. R. (2012). The role of information contestability in evidence based policy in planning and transport. Chapter 10 In H. Geerlings, Y. Shiftan & D. Stead (Eds.), Transition towards Sustainable Mobility: the Role of Instruments, Individuals and Institutions. Rotterdam: Ashgate. pp217-230.

There are three elements required for public policy to be both credible and effective. These are not necessarily the factors that all parties  would agree to, but provide a common ground on which constructive disagreements can be founded. These are evidence based policy; contestable evidence based policy, and accessible information. The critical role that these three elements play in the transition to sustainable transport is discussed, with some of the current distortions due to breakdown of one or more elements of this tripartite bottom line. The relevance of this issue has increased sharply as future turbulence in the enforced transitions to sustainability, and the increased probability of major climatic events combine to press for a wider frame for governance to be able to secure the necessary improvements in resource allocation and responsiveness.  The mediation of part of this newly emergent situation can be materially improved by raising the levels of shared understandable information between all parties.  Examples of such tools indicate that a combination of the enhancement of data observatories and altered governance made possible by the higher density and more meaningful and flexible means of information sharing could reasonably be expected to have a significant positive impact


Wigan,M.R.(2011) The role of contestable processes in advancing sustainability in transport and planning. Australian Transport Research, March. 20(1), pp40-48.


Governance issues are important in advancing sustainable transport. Both physical planning and transport organisations have longer policy development and implementation horizons than the urgency of changes towards sustainable practice now demand. Both transport policy and planning strategies need to adapt to meet these compressed horizons. To date the very different cultures and professional perspectives and practices involved increasingly encounter problems in securing and maintaining to achieve workable joint strategies in operation. Some positive steps are (1) Creating a contestable governance framework for evidence based policy (2) Harnessing the resulting larger role of the community in both the 'community' and also the technical aspects of strategy development The contestability of evidence based policy is increasingly practical, and examples or data and model sharing between community and government are already occurring, and examples of the shifts in community power once the technical skills therein are enabled are given, as well as the changes in data generation by crowd sourcing.These two themes are developed with reference to relevant GAMUT initiatives. One of the most important of which has proved to be a series of Governance Forums. These have been designed especially to allow auspicing of a broader range of significant parties to contribute to what is required in terms of changes in governance in both areas, without the special interests of any of the fields involved being given primacy. This initiative has worked well and allowed a broader range of public debate to occur.  Such opportunities have become scarce, and are valued once created.These are harbingers of a different form of consultation, which allows great flexibility of government to adjust policy in practice with lower political costs, and enable greater effectiveness and more rapid response to the changes sustainability, energy and climate are brining to us. The communities of practice enabled by these approaches offer fresh opportunities to engage a wider community more effectively, and so enhance the moves towards governance structures and processes better suited to address the new demands


Sunter, P. and M. R. Wigan (2011). "Enhancing community participation in metropolitan strategic transport planning through shared analysis." Australian Transport Research 20(1 (March)): 24-35.


Sustainable transport requires not only solid evidence to support policy and practice, but also to allow this to be examined with a high degree of transparency. Not all technical reports have the supporting evidence (or indeed models) made readily available, and even fewer provide enough material and methods to allow others to reproduce or evaluate the methods used as well as the results reported, or to assess alternatives not covered in the report. Control over such issues is a matter of governance. Governance issues are important in advancing sustainable transport, as organisations in both the physical planning and transport fields have longer policy development and implementation horizons than the urgency of changes towards sustainable practice now demands. Both transport policy and planning strategies need to adapt to meet these compressed horizons, but the very different cultures and professional perspectives and practices involved have to date produced strategies that have yet to be proved to work very well once in operation. The themes that need to be introduced to address these barriers to improvement include (1) a contestable governance framework for evidence based policy, and (2) the resulting larger role of the community in both the ‘community’ and ‘technical’ aspects of strategy development. These two themes are developed with reference to recent relevant GAMUT initiatives. One of the most important of these has proved to be a series of governance forums designed specially to allow auspicing of a broader range of significant parties to contribute to what is required in terms of changes in governance in both areas, without the special interests of any of the fields involved being given primacy. This initiative has worked well and allowed a broader range of public debate to occur, as such opportunities had become scarce and have been valued once a suitable framework has been recreated. The role of contestable processes in advancing sustainability in transport and planning Enabling contestability of evidence-based policy is an increasingly practical possibility. Examples of data and model sharing between community and government have begun to appear, as have examples of the shifts in community power that arise once the technical skills in the community are enabled. This is complemented by growing use of crowd sourcing (community input) to generate relevant and valued data. These are harbingers of a different form of consultation, which allows greater flexibility of government to adjust policy in practice with lower political costs, enables greater effectiveness and more rapid response to the environmental, planning and transport changes now upon us, draws upon a larger and wider pool of expertise in the community as a whole, and is increasingly needed to address issues that are steadily increasing in frequency and complexity


Wigan, M. R. (2010). The role of contestable processes in advancing sustainability in transport and planning, GAMUT International Conference  2-4 June  2010 (pp. 20). Melbourne: GAMUT, University of Melbourne.

Legacy, C., Sturup, S., Curtis, C., & Wigan, M. R. (2009). Delivering infrastructure and land use-transport integration policy: examining good governance issues in Melbourne and Perth ATRF (Vol. CDRom, pp. 14). Auckland NZ: ATRF.

Wigan, M. R. (2008). The role of information contestability in evidence based policy in planning and transport, NECTAR policy and Environment Workshop: Transition towards Sustainable Mobility: the Role of Instruments, Individuals and Institutions (pp. 12). Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Curtis, C., Glover, L., Legacy, C., & Wigan, M. R. (2008). A report on the GAMUT public forum on good governance for transport infrastructure (Position Paper). Melbourne: GAMUT, University of Melbourne

Updated and edited on 21 November 2018