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Managing the Commons: A Conceptual Framework for Natural Resource Governance in Development Projects

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Fischer, Anke; Petersen, Lorenz
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1257
Sector: Theory
Region:
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
international development
resource management--theory
resource management--case studies
natural resources
sustainability
institutional analysis--IAD framework
Abstract: "Many problems of unsustainable management of natural resources worldwide are due to a limited number of basic governance shortcomings such as lack of property rights definitions leading to open access, or insufficient enforcement of existing rules. Often however, researchers and to an even greater extent practitioners in development cooperation focus on one single natural resource and tend to ignore the analogy of problems in related fields. This practice is also endemic in the German Agency for Development Cooperation (GTZ). As a consequence, many insights gained in one field, e. g., with regard to irrigation or community forestry, are not shared with experts from related areas or discussed within a wider scope. "In this paper, a conceptual framework for analysing the governance problems behind unsustainable management of natural resources is proposed. It is applicable to all kinds of natural resources, regardless of their physical properties. The framework serves as a common theoretical background on which to analyse management problems, their causes, and possible interventions. The core of the framework draws on the Institutional Analysis and Design (IAD; e. g., Ostrom 1990, Thomson 1992). In addition, the proposed framework accounts for the peculiarities of development cooperation projects. Several modules are integrated which proved useful (i) to capture multi-actor relationships in resource management and (ii) to design and describe actual GTZ activities, interventions and the implementation of measures. Thus, a basis is provided to compare development cooperation projects and to draw conclusions on explicit and implicit goals of development policy and its shortcomings. "The second, empirical part of the paper illustrates the potential and the application of the framework and presents a survey of case studies on resource management in developing countries. Based on this analysis, actual interventions and consulting activities with regard to common property issues are compared to the overarching objectives of development policy."

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