Abstract for: Combining systemic analysis with realist review: Collaborative sense-making of waste minimisation program theory in Aotearoa

The problem of negative environmental impacts of solid waste generation, management and disposal is well known, complex, and often designated as a ‘wicked’ problem. New methodological approaches are called for, to help understand the systemic issues and design effective interventions. This paper reports on a study that combined the realist review approach, with systems mapping and emphasized stakeholder participation. The realist review encompassed literature reviews informed by stakeholder interviews. Four interlinked program theory propositions were identified. A comprehensive causal loop diagram was developed to visualise the four program theory propositions within the context of waste related practices in Aotearoa New Zealand. System insights were identified from the causal loop diagram that expanded understanding of how the program theory propositions interact and showed wider dynamics within the waste system. Results of both realist review and causal loop diagram system insights were presented back to key informants, for sense-making. Reflections on this participatory and integrated approach used showed compatibility between realist review and causal loop diagrams, providing a greater depth of contextual analysis than either approach alone would produce. The paper also highlighted the importance of indigenous perspectives and impact implications of the findings for Aotearoa context.