Table 2. Transdisciplinarity and the NFEPA project.

Key question Answering the question in NFEPA Type of knowledge Skills and other inputs in answering the question
What exists? Specialist information on, for example, wetland delineations, wetland types, fish sanctuaries, free-flowing rivers, groundwater recharge, and river condition. Information on existing institutional structures for conservation and strategic plans also in place.

Empirical, scientific data Various disciplinary specialists on the project team and end-users within government departments
(e.g., ecologists, hydrologists).
What are we capable of doing? The question was answered in terms of what we are capable of doing in relation to water conservation. The assumption was made that it is impossible to conserve all the freshwater resources in the country; however, some can be preserved. Therefore, the project identified priority freshwater ecosystem areas, advising on which could be developed and which should be conserved.

Pragmatic knowledge Various disciplinary specialists, mainly from the natural sciences, with advice from government departments.
What do we want to do? The project team wanted to more effectively implement South Africa’s existing legislation related to freshwater conservation and assist end-users in achieving this. Value-based/normative knowledge Cross-Sector Policy Objectives for Inland Water Conservation (Roux et al. 2006),
existing legislation (e.g., Biodiversity Act),
conversations with end-users, and
inputs from disciplinary specialists.

What ought we to do? At the heart of the project was a team that strongly believed in the ethical value of balancing development and the protection of ecosystems. This value is also enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution and related legislation.

Value-based/normative knowledge Disciplinary specialists and end-users within governmental departments.
Note: Adapted from Max Neef (2005).