Introducing a temporal DPSIR (tDPSIR) framework and its application to marine pollution by PET bottles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Environmental governance is highly sensitive to temporal dynamics, due to the ever-accelerating rate of technological changes, the cumulative nature of environmental impacts and the complexity of multi-level environmental policy processes. Yet, temporality is generally only implicitly included in frameworks used for describing or assessing policy response in the broad context of social-ecological systems, such as the widely used Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework. As a result, the application of such frameworks often does not give due attention to questions of temporality, with potential negative impacts on attaining environmental goals. The current work proposes to modify the DPSIR framework to explicitly incorporate temporal aspects. We suggest two extensions of the common framework to account for time lags and allow for early response through a “response shift-left” mechanism. The potential of the modified framework—temporal DPSIR (tDPSIR)—to shed light on these temporal aspects is demonstrated through analysis of the European Union’s response to pollution of the marine environment by plastic bottle waste. The analysis emphasizes the pronounced time lags between the initiation of this anthropogenic pressure and effective governance capable of curbing emissions. We discuss how tDPSIR can be applied to a range of environmental issues to populate databases of time lags in environmental governance, which, in turn, can be analysed for systemic patterns and chains of causality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1136
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s) under exclusive licence to Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


  • Marine litter
  • Precautionary principle
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Time lags

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Chemistry


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