This paper empirically examines through a single case study three theoretical models of science-policy interactions identified in the literature: science-push, policy-pull and co-production. Although the literature is clear that reliance on orderly linear models of knowledge transfer from science into policy is ineffective, more precise guidance is needed for those in the scientific community interested in effectively mediating the science-policy interface to inform policy and decision-making. We examine the case of urban water management in Melbourne, Australia, which is widely regarded as a frontrunner in sustainable urban water practices. We find the prominent (interlinked) features of Melbourne’s science-policy interface are actors, networks and relationships, and funding. Overall, science-policy interactions in Melbourne are highly complex and do not neatly fit into one specific theoretical model. Prominent framings of each model vary depending on context, history and time-scale. There are strong indications however that a collaborative approach is increasingly being embraced at Melbourne’s water-management interface. This could be attributed to Melbourne’s highly network-based science-policy culture, which facilitates strong collaboration between policy-makers and scientists. We explore how the three models of interaction identified in the literature combined with insights from Melbourne can be used to frame strategies to effectively mediate the science-policy interface. These insights increase our understandings of the science-policy interface and provide practical insights and strategies for researchers interested in effective engagement with policy communities.

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Last updated: 19th Mar 2018