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Multilevel Governance in Community-Based Environmental Management: A Case Study Comparison from Latin America

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Sattler, Claudia; Schröter, Barbara; Meyer, Angela; Giersch, Claas; Matzdorf, Bettina
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 21
Date: 2017
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10233
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: Central America & Caribbean
South America
Subject(s): management
natural resources
environmental governance
Abstract: "We analyze four case studies from Latin America using the concept of multilevel governance to assess at what vertical and horizontal levels and in what roles various state, market, and civil society actors interact for successful community-based environmental management (CBEM). In particular, we address the problem of how a conflict over natural resources with high negative impacts on the livelihoods of the respective communities could be overcome by a governance change that resulted in a multilevel governance arrangement for CBEM. The analysis involves a mixed-methods approach that combines a variety of empirical methods in social research such as field visits, personal interviews, participant observations, and stakeholder workshops. To visualize results, we introduce two schemes to present the composition of the governance structures for cross-case comparison. The first scheme plots the different actors into an arrangement that shows their associations with different societal spheres and at which territorial scales they are primarily involved. The second scheme differentiates these actors based on their complementing governance roles. Active roles are attributed to actors who implement activities on the ground, whereas passive roles are assigned to actors who provide specific resources such as knowledge, funding, legislative framework, or others. All cases involved governance actors from more than one societal sphere who operate on at least three different territorial levels (local to international) and in distinct roles. Results show that multilevel governance can strengthen CBEM in different ways. First, the success of CBEM is an outcome of the sum of horizontal and vertical interactions of all involved actors, and there is no most appropriate single level of social organization at which a problem can best be addressed. Only the cooperation of actors from different societal spheres within and across levels ensures accessibility to needed resources and implementation on the ground. Second, civil society actors seem to be crucial actors because they often function as the initiators of governance change and as bridging actors who connect other actors across levels. Third, to enable cross-scale interaction for improved decision making, often new actors are formed whose roles are wilfully negotiated. Fourth, despite different interests of actors, all multilevel governance arrangements for CBEM were able to provide benefits to all actors. Finally, in all cases, procedures for conflict resolution among parties are in place to address problems and allow for polycentric mutual decision making. Nevertheless, in view of transferability of the analyzed multilevel governance arrangements for CBEM, it is important to acknowledge that the differentiation in the cooperation of actors characterizes complex solutions that work for a specific context and that cannot be transferred directly to another context."

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