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Lecture for Module 10, Adaptive Governance
“Repetition” – Economics, paradigms, WEF
and Green Economy
SES – the context of bridging organisations
Individuals or organisations?
Limitations of Adaptive Governance and
collaboration within bridging organisations
Do we study systems or agents with
Resilience and political ecology
Degradation of ecosystem services often
causes significant harm to human well-being
Economics is not equal to money!
“The total economic value
associated with managing
ecosystems more sustainably is
often higher than the value
associated with conversion”
“Conversion may still occur
because private economic benefits
are often greater for the converted
system” (external costs)
“Governments should first stop
subsidies to such conversions,
then subsidize production of
ecosystem services” (incentives)
(How are the values in the table estimated?)
The Social System
EcolEcon: Human wellbeing
depend on the Biosphere
regardless whether we
understand it or not.
The value of nature
depends on human
Neoclassical economics versus Democracy
Example (Survey 1997): Swedish citizens think it
should not be allowed
– to build mosques in Sweden? 46%
– to have homosexual teachers at primary
school? 39 %
• These large minority opinions are contrary
to the Swedish constitution. Conclusion:
many people have “wrong” preferences, i.e.
their preferences should not be given moral
weight in formulation of policy goals.
• Should we adapt the Swedish constitution to accommodate
these values that violate human rights?
• Sustainable development may not be supported by citizens
(e.g. rising taxes on fossil fuel). Could sustainability or the
integrity of ecosystems be framed as human rights-issues
(constitutional issues), e.g. the right to breathe fresh air, the
right to clean ground and surface water? Implications on
• If value systems are hierarchical (human rights, democracy,
sustainability are “overarching ideologies”), then these
“overarching ideologies” could be used to direct, frame, and
constrain policy options as well as choices by consumers!
Just like our constitution frames legislation.
“Nobel” Prizes in Economics
Kenneth Arrow, 1972 (social choice, ecol-econ)
Gunnar Myrdal, 1974 (inst econ, questioned “valuefree”)
Herbert Simon, 1978 (bounded rationality)
James Tobin, 1981 (“Tobin tax”)
Douglass North, 1993 (institutional economics)
Amartya Sen, 1998 (re-define efficiency, ethics, fixed
preferences, narrow self-interest)
Joseph Stiglitz, 2001 (Development, IMF critic)
Daniel Kahneman, 2002 (testing theory in experiments)
Elinor Ostrom, 2009 (Challenged “the tragedy of the
commons” and its assumption of narrow self-interest)
Paradigm critique in economics
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic
Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2009 was
awarded Elinor Ostrom "for her analysis of
economic governance, especially the commons“
Ostrom assumed rational choice but rejected
the (Lakatos) “protective belt” assumption of
Investments in social capital and cooperation
can be rational. Hence, people may overcome
the “tragedy of open access” (Nash equilibrium)
Paradigm critique in economics
Protective belt assumptions:
Only utilitarian ethics
Natural capital can be
Exponential growth is good
Objective market prices
Growth can be uneconomic
Prices depend on
Conclusion: The neoclassical core has been
re-defined when ten important assumptions
have been questioned
5 of the 8 worst Global Risks are ecosystem-based
1. Water supply crises
2. Rising greenhouse gas emissions
3. Failure of climate change adaptation
4. Extreme volatility in energy and
5. Food shortage crises
6. Chronic fiscal imbalances
7. Major systemic financial failure
8. Severe income disparity
The Sustainable Development discourse is focusing
more on Economics: TEEB 2009 and GE 2011
Green Economy is (or should be)
About using environmental/ecological economics as a tool
for (social and ecological) sustainable development
Get the institutions right (prices will follow…)
Reduce subsidies to fossil fuels (US$ 650 billion annually)
and replace by Feed-in tarriffs on solar and wind (30devd
+ 17devg countries have used this!)
Green fiscal (tax) reform
Regulating the market (protected areas, standards etc.)
Technology transfer, etc
Presented as more efficient (economically + ecologically)
than the ”Brown” Economy but what about equity?
The discussion on fuel
subsidies is an important
Here’s an example from
Logical but assumes…?
Fiscal reforms are necessary but…
BBC Africa 2012-01-02: “Ordinary Nigerians and trade
unionists have condemned the government for
withdrawing a fuel price subsidy which has led petrol
prices to more than double in many areas.”
A Social-Ecological System (Hahn et al. 2006 HumEcol)
legal and financial
Ecosystem processes +
The capacity to generate valuable ecosystem services depends on ecosystem
processes as well as the organizational and institutional capacity to
govern people, manage ecosystems and handling surprises.
Social-ecological systems (SES)
Three core features:
1. society and nature represent truly interdependent socialecological systems (SES);
2. social-ecological systems are complex adaptive systems;
3. cross scale and dynamic interactions represent new
challenges for governance and management in relation to
interdependent SES and ecosystem services.
These three core features provide a broad research direction,
and will continue to serve as a significant attractor that allows
for emergence of diverse approaches from different
disciplines within a common framing. The content and
direction of the framing is a central identity of the SRC that
distinguishes SRC research from multidisciplinary
collaborations in sustainability science.
(Stockholm Resilience Centre, Action Plan 2010-2013)
Search on Scopus for ”adaptive governance” AND ecosystems (2011)
1 Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems
Folke, C., Hahn, T., Olsson, P., Norberg, J. 2005
Annual Review of Environment and Resources 30, pp. 441-473 300
2 Resilience: The emergence of a perspective for social-ecological systems analyses
Folke, C. 2006
Global Environmental Change 16 (3), pp. 253-267 228
3 Social-ecological transformation for ecosystem management: The development of adaptive co-management of a wetland
landscape in southern Sweden
Olsson, P., Folke, C., Hahn, T. 2004
Ecology and Society 9 (4) 91
4 Shooting the rapids: Navigating transitions to adaptive governance of social-ecological systems
Olsson, P., Gunderson, L.H., Carpenter, S.R., Ryan, P., Lebel, L., Folke, C., Holling, C.S. 2006
Ecology and Society 11 (1), art. no. 18 76
5 Scenarios for ecosystem services: An overview
Carpenter, S.R., Bennett, E.M., Peterson, G.D. 2006
Ecology and Society 11 (1), art. no. 29 31
6 Enhancing the fit through adaptive co-management: Creating and maintaining bridging functions for matching scales in the
Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve, Sweden
Olsson, P., Folke, C., Galaz, V., Hahn, T., Schultz, L. 2007
Ecology and Society 12 (1), art. no. 28 28
The context of bridging organisations
• Adaptive governance of coupled social and ecological systems is
about connecting actors and organisations at multiple organizational
levels to enable an ecosystem-based management. These actors
are connected in social networks and provide leadership, trust,
vision, meaning, and they help transform management
organizations toward a learning environment (Folke et al. 2005).
• Organizations that link diverse actors or groups through some form
of strategic bridging process are called “bridging organizations
(Crona & Parker 2012).
• As an integral part of adaptive ecosystem governance, bridging
organizations provide social incentives to individuals within
stakeholder groups by rewarding and creating space for
collaboration, value formation, and innovation (Hahn et al. 2006).
• Accomplishments by informal networking can be institutionalized in
land-use plans and other regulations
The context of bridging organisations
• Bridging organizations, or individuals performing these functions, are
crucial for successful governance, i.e. collaboration between agencies
and NGOs (Berkes 2009).
• Adaptive governance coordinates different types of networks. The
governance network typically includes national NGOs and civil
servants who can provide and mobilise institutional, financial and
political support as well as external knowledge. Local steward
networks typically include landowners and local NGOs and civil
servants concerned with the actual management (Schultz et al.
2007; Hahn 2011).
• The challenges of “legitimacy” and “accountability” are often treated
as similar in international governance while in local governance they
are obviously different. Informal self-organized governance networks
may increase legitimacy if a variety of stakeholders are involved, but
at the same time accountability becomes blurred when decisions are
• Question: is there a risk that self-organized governance networks
“take over” responsibility from the representative democracy?
Individuals or organisations?
Fig. 1. The governance network of Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve. The
nodes are agencies/organizations, except in five cases (noted by names) in which
the nodes could be described as individuals who created their own mandates within
their respective organizations. (Hahn 2011, E&S)
Kristianstad Wetlands – UNESCO
Man and Biosphere Reserve Sept 2005
• Performing essential functions in
crafting effective responses to
change in social-ecological
• Linking groups, networks and
organizations across levels,
creating the right links, at the
right time, around the right
• Accessing and combining
multiple sources of knowledge
• Enhancing vertical and
horizontal integration and social
Folke et al. 2005, Hahn et al. 2006, Olsson et al. 2007
Focus on understanding changes
• Role of social learning to overcome the tyranny of fixed
preferences and vested interests (“learning leadership”)
Besides this focus on leadership and learning, the researcher
also needs to analyse power:
• Any stakeholder benefitting from the status quo (of suboptimal ecosystem management) and powerful enough to
impede social learning processes?
• Is collaboration viable, is it possible to attract any key person
within this stakeholder group to a new vision? If not, then
Adaptive co-management (ACM) or Adaptive Governance of
SES (AGSES) are not suitable frameworks for analysis.
Adaptive Governance of SocialEcological Systems (AGSES)
“adaptive governance emphasises flexibility, experimentation, and
learning as strategies for anticipating and dealing with unintended
consequences. Such governance approaches are thus deemed
appropriate to situations of rapid change and high uncertainty.
Nevertheless, they tend to assume that there are shared goals
around what system properties should remain resilient, or that
consensus can be built through the governance process.”
(Leach, M, 2008, p 1791.)
• This critique misses the point: AGSES case studies don’t
assume but document HOW shared goals and (sufficient)
consensus have been accomplished.
• Still, Leach has a point: AGSES is not a good (normative or
analytical) framework for all case studies. Instead: Trade-off
analysis and Multicriteria analysis focusing more on power as
obstacles to change (e.g. Kate Brown 2001 Ecol. Econ.
“Can you address power issues
using systems ecology?”
• No! Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and other systems
approaches enable analysis of anticipated vulnerability
related to thresholds, tipping points, and regime shifts.
Purpose = understand ecological feedbacks.
• However, adaptations are crafted by people with intentions
who organise and exert their power in conflict with other
interests. Understanding actual adaptations and adaptive
capacity means acknowledging that power issues are part of
the dynamics in a SES. (Nykvist & Hahn forthcoming)
Stakeholders have intentions
• In the resilience theory literature, 30% of the
papers on ”adaptability” see people as agents with
intentions, strategies, and hence allow for power
analysis. 50% see people as part of ”social
systems” interacting with ecosystems, focus on
understanding ecological + system feedbacks.
• The “problem” with systems ecology is not the use
of self-organization in relation to scales or levels,
e.g. that responses can emerge through leadership
and stakeholder interaction at a local level without
being forced by external factors. The problem is
when such interaction is regarded as autonomous.
Resilience and political ecology
• Some of the research on resilience of SES is
compatible to Political ecology in the sense that
power issues are (or can be) addressed.
• The use of political ecology in resilience research is
increasing as the number of social scientists in this
field is growing.
• However, the starting point in resilience research is
understanding how to govern and manage
ecosystem services sustainably. Then power issues
are only instrumental, not the analytical focus.
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