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Environmental Policy and Governance

Wiley Online Library : Environmental Policy and Governance

Published: 2017-07-01T00:00:00-05:00


Forest Governance without Transparency? Evaluating state efforts to reduce deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon


Over 60% of the Amazon basin is contained within nine federal Brazilian states. How transparent are state-level governments about implementing and enforcing deforestation reduction policies? Advocates and officials can only influence forest conservation outcomes to the extent that they have information about the actions – the inputs and outputs – of front-line local actors. Leveraging a recently adopted freedom of information (FOI) law, this paper evaluates how well governments comply with website-based disclosure requirements (active transparency), and how effectively they respond to FOI requests (passive transparency) on the implementation and enforcement of deforestation reduction policies. By focusing on how subnational administrations disclose accountings of forest governance – the inputs and outputs of governance – the current study complements an already extensive body of scholarship on central government monitoring of forest cover – the transparency of outcomes. Comparing our results with an original database of transparency evaluations from Brazil, we find extremely low levels of compliance with FOI obligations. We do find, however, that government agencies possessing electronic FOI platforms, which help applicants send requests and appeals and accompany responses, fare better than those without. This and other findings have implications for the design of transparency systems, while global results speak to the policy challenges of federalism, especially dilemmas of subnational policy enforcement. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Power in Sustainability Transitions: Analysing power and (dis)empowerment in transformative change towards sustainability


This paper conceptualizes power and empowerment in the context of sustainability transitions and transition governance. The field of transition studies has been critically interrogated for undermining the role of power, which has inspired various endeavours to theorize power and agency in transitions. This paper presents the POwer-IN-Transition framework (POINT), which is developed as a conceptual framework to analyse power and (dis)empowerment in transformative social change, integrating transition concepts and multiple power and empowerment theories. The first section introduces transitions studies and discusses its state-of-the-art regarding power. This is followed by a typology of power relations and different types of power (reinforcive, innovative, transformative). These notions are then used to reframe transition concepts, in particular the multi-level perspective, in terms of power dynamics. The critical challenges of (dis)empowerment and unintended power implications of discourses on and policies for ‘sustainability transitions’ are discussed. The paper concludes with a synthesis of the arguments and challenges for future research. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Policy Stability in Climate Governance: The case of the United Kingdom


‘Super-wicked’ problems such as climate change require ambitious policies within stable policy frameworks. Key for policy stability is to disincentivise future reversals to carbon-intensive lifestyles resulting in unstoppable climate change. It requires lock-in to a low-carbon development trajectory, requires increasing popular support, and needs to be self-reinforcing, with reversal costs rising over time as benefits increase. In parliamentary political systems (e.g. the UK), policies emerge more easily but are more difficult to maintain given that shifting political majorities can result in policy U-turns, resulting in uncertainties for investment in low-carbon transitions. We examine what factors determine policy stability in UK climate change policy that aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 85–90 per cent by 2050. Policy stability depends on favourable public opinion and the political system. In the case of parliamentary democracies the extent to which policy is embedded into a multilevel governance institutional framework and political cross-party consensus is particularly important for stability. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

The Ecosystem Approach to Management in Marine Environmental Governance: Institutional interplay in the Baltic Sea Region


This article focuses on the use of the ecosystem approach to management (EAM) in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Based on selected criteria for EAM, the article traces and compares the impact of EAM on HELCOM's Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (MSPD). Starting from the assumption that institutional interplay determines the impact of the EAM on marine policies, the article examines how different forms of interplay (interplay through cognition, commitment and compliance) affect the spread of EAM and its implementation in the BSR. The study finds strong interplay between HELCOM's BSAP and the EU's MSFD. Although HELCOM is still an important player in marine governance in the BSR, since it includes Russia, taking over responsibilities for the implementation of EU legislation has repercussions and affects its independence. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Caught Between Personal and Collective Values: Biodiversity conservation in European decision-making


Individual decision-makers at different governance levels operate in social contexts, which means that they sometimes need to compromise their personal values. Yet, this dissonance is rarely the direct target of empirical analyses of environmental decision-making. We undertake a Q-analysis of decision-makers' personal perspectives and the perspectives they perceive to dominate in their decision-making contexts. Our empirical analysis addresses biodiversity conservation, which has traditionally been justified with intrinsic value- and science-based arguments. The arguments have recently been broadened with the concept of ecosystem services, highlighting human benefits and values. This evolving context is interesting because of the new rise of anthropocentric values, which can lead to decision-makers experiencing dissonance. Our analysis of interviews with 43 biodiversity conservation decision-makers from nine European countries reveals four personally held perspectives that highlight different, yet partly overlapping, values – intrinsic, human benefit, conservation and connection – as well as three perspectives perceived to dominate in decision-making – utilitarian, insurance and knowledge values. The comparison of personally held and perceived dominant perspectives points to one major conflict: those decision-makers who personally associate with intrinsic values and perceive utilitarian values to dominate in decision-making experience dissonance. By contrast, personally held human benefit values are accommodated well in decision-making contexts and decision-makers who perceive insurance values to dominate experience the least conflict with personally held values. These findings demonstrate the potential of arguments stressing long-term benefits for easing tension and conflicts in conservation decision-making, and the usefulness of empirically testing of the coincidence of individual and social values. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Reconsidering EU Compliance: Implementation performance in the field of environmental policy


European Union (EU) environmental policy can only work in practice when it is implemented by and within the member states. Yet, despite its importance, we still lack a solid and cumulative understanding of the practical implementation of EU environmental policies, mainly because of the dominance of case-specific empirical insights and the dichotomous conceptualization of compliant implementation. This paper proposes a conceptual framework for analysing implementation performance, which is built around three dimensions: substance, scope and effort. The framework's relevance and analytical quality are substantiated by a systematic review of empirical studies on practical implementation of 18 EU environmental directives. We find evidence of three types of knowledge deficits: there is neglect of the ‘scope’ and ‘effort’ dimensions of implementation; disproportionate attention to the Water Framework Directive, and the Northern and Western European member states. The proposed conceptual framework aims to inform future research on EU environmental implementation. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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Building Practical Authority for Community Forestry in and through Networks: The role of community-based organisations in the U.S. West


Policy and economic changes in the late 20th century fundamentally reorganized the governance of public forestlands in the US West, throwing longstanding rural development trajectories into disarray. Place-based NGOs emerged across the West in the wake of this transformation to help rural communities gain access to the benefits of new restoration-oriented management paradigms. Here we analyse the practical efforts of two of these community-based organizations, Wallowa Resources and the Watershed Research and Training Center, as they attempt to implement community forestry practices in highly complex institutional environments. We focus on the ways in which these organizations access and utilize social networks at multiple scales in order to build the ‘practical authority’ necessary to lead institutional change efforts in and on behalf of rural communities. We consider both the strategic advantages and the practical challenges of working in multiple forums at multiple scales in pursuit of linked community and environmental benefits. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

The Global Norm of Large Marine Protected Areas: Explaining variable adoption and implementation


Since 2006, governments have designated or announced 18 marine protected areas (MPAs) larger than 200 000 km2. Before then there was only one: Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, established in 1975. To explain this marked shift in state governance of marine biodiversity, this article points to the importance of a gradual strengthening over the past decade of a global norm that large MPAs, especially no-take reserves, are valuable for meeting conservation objectives and targets. As is true for most global environmental norms, the large MPA norm emerged primarily out of civil society, especially from groups framing large MPAs as an effective way to help stop ocean decline. Importantly, however, the article demonstrates that the adoption of this norm is uneven across states, and implementation of large MPAs varies widely as governmental and non-governmental forces interact – sometimes clashing, sometimes cooperating – with fishing, tourism and resource industries. For evidence, this article draws on fieldwork and 74 interviews across five large MPA cases: Papahānaumokouākea (2006) and the Pacific Remote Islands in the US (2009); the Coral Sea in Australia (2012); the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (2015); and the UK's Pitcairn reserve (2015). A comparative analysis of these cases reveals the influence of non-governmental groups (especially The Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Geographic Society) on the gradual strengthening of the large MPA norm; the importance of the large MPA norm for the formation of marine policy; and the significance of domestic political economies for shaping variable norm adoption and state implementation. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Monitoring for Adaptive Management or Modernity: Lessons from recent initiatives for holistic environmental management


Recommendations for improving environmental management often advocate a holistic approach that supports both social and environmental objectives. This should be reflected in approaches to monitoring and evaluation; however, monitoring is often inadequate and hence limits our ability to implement adaptive management. It is important to understand if monitoring practices are changing, and if not, why. Thus, this paper considers the monitoring practices and priorities of 24 ‘Ecosystem Approach’ projects implementing holistic and participatory environmental management. We found project monitoring was often focused on biophysical indicators, such as indicators of water pollution, even when adaptive management might prioritize understanding different issues or using different data-types. By contrast, aspects of social and economic aspects were monitored infrequently. Procedural aspects were rarely tracked. Project managers' aspirations did sometimes include such issues, but these were seen as more difficult or even impossible to measure. Schema were also shaped by the need to demonstrate accountability and quantify progress to funders. Our study suggests monitoring still falls short of theoretical recommendations. This is partially due to the misfit between new understandings of socio-ecological systems and pre-existing modernist paradigms, whose conceptions and expectations still have pervasive effects of our ways of thinking and working. Tackling this requires explicit attention to sticking points across the levels of institutions that shape environmental management. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Local Climate Governance in the Global South: The case of eThekwini Municipality and the Responsible Accommodation Campaign


Local climate governance has become a key focus of the climate change agenda. Much research has been conducted on the topic in northern countries, but more research is needed in the South, where local governments often are less equipped to deal with challenges associated with climate change. This paper discusses different forms of local climate governance, with a specific focus on the relevance of networks. Local climate governance in eThekwini Municipality, South Africa, is used as a case study, particularly focusing on a campaign that was implemented in 2011 before the international climate conference (COP17). The modes of governing in eThekwini are considered through a framework of local climate governing and identified mainly as self-governing and governing through enabling, the campaign being an example of the latter. The campaign also exemplifies how network governance can shape climate policy and significantly alter a project from initiation to implementation. While networks can contribute to improved communication and information exchange, there may be an inherent risk of private partners having a perverse incentive against implementing effective climate policies due to their own interests in maintaining current structures. It is not clear whether the change from regulative governance to governing by enabling will lead to more effective climate policies in the longer term. More research is required to determine this. While this study is too small to make broader generalizations, it does provide insight into how the introduction of network governance may impact climate governance at the local level in the South. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

The Roles of Residents in Climate Adaptation: A systematic review in the case of the Netherlands


Climate adaptation literature has hitherto devoted limited attention to the roles of residents. Yet their role is crucial in addressing non- or maladaptation, as their initiative or consent is often necessary to take adaptation measures in or around the house. To address this knowledge gap, this paper explores mainstream and additional roles for residents through a literature review. Mainstream roles are those roles that residents usually take, while additional roles are more specific and local in nature. The latter may, however, provide the seeds for wider change. To structure the results, we made a distinction between three forms of residents' commitment to adaptation: as (1) citizens falling under the jurisdiction of various governmental levels; (2) consumers (including home owners) in the market; and (3) civil society members/partners. While this is an established categorization in other domains of environmental governance, it has not yet been systematically applied to the adaptation domain. The paper's empirical focus regarding mainstream and additional roles is on the Dutch adaptation domains of flood risk management, stormwater management and dealing with heat stress. We found scope for additional roles for residents, especially as consumers in the market and civil society members. The findings are of significance for the global debate on residents' roles in climate adaptation and suggest that addressing all three forms of commitment may enhance the implementation of measures as well as their legitimacy, residents' awareness and societies' potential to innovate. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

The Role of Finance Ministries in Environmental Policy Making: The case of European Union Emissions Trading System reform in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands


Environmental policy-making increasingly involves ministries beyond environment ministries. In particular, finance ministries are important, since they control the public budget and address environmental issues from a perspective different from environmental actors. The role of finance ministries is especially salient in the European Union's (EU) Emissions Trading System (ETS), which has been subject to interventions to keep up the falling emission allowance price. The price of ETS allowances has dropped to a tenth of the expected price. The drop led to proposals for intervening in the ETS, including postponing the auctioning of emission allowances and structural reform. While the Netherlands and Denmark supported such intervention, Germany blocked an EU decision on the subject for months. To investigate whether the role of finance ministries explains the differences in government positions, this article analyses these three Member States. The analysis shows that finance ministries were involved in the policy processes and reluctantly supported intervening in the ETS. This position was due more to the desire to have a functioning ETS with minimal state intervention than to the fiscal impact of such intervention, as this impact was clouded in uncertainty. However, the finance ministries were not decisive in determining government positions, which were instead determined by the political orientation of the government (in Germany and the Netherlands) and by previous commitments to ambitious EU emission reduction targets (in Denmark). The analysis underlines the importance of studying the role of finance ministries and their different objectives (fiscal, macroeconomic) in environmental policy-making. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Governance in Shaky Societies: Experiences and lessons from Christchurch after the earthquakes


Disasters have the potential to shake societies and their governance systems not only temporarily, but often for years afterwards as well. Studying disaster governance through lenses of social–ecological systems can provide essential insights in disaster contexts, as disasters occur through the interactions between nature and societies. Drawing upon debates on environmental governance, we examine the interactions between different spatial and temporal levels of governance in the face of disasters. Our analysis is based on an in-depth case study of Christchurch, New Zealand, in the aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. International experts usually regard Christchurch as an exemplary recovery process. However, frustration is widespread among people in the city as they call for a more socially inclusive process. These diverging views can be explained by the variety of challenges that the earthquakes pose on the society and the consequent different needs and wishes related to different temporal stages and geographical areas. Homogenous governance approaches for post-disaster recovery for all stages and areas are therefore inadequate, calling for hybrid, more flexible and sustainable governance constellations. A social–ecological approach highlights the dynamic and complex interactions between nature and society, and the hybrid, multi-level character of governance, which both shapes and is shaped by the behaviour and responses of citizens. Regarding hybrid governance as a social–ecological system can therefore help to better understand post-disaster realities and support the design of tailored, time- and place-specific governance systems aiming for enhanced resilience and sustainability. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Municipal Responses to Ecological Fiscal Transfers in Brazil: A microeconometric panel data approach


Ecological fiscal transfers in Brazil, the so-called ICMS-Ecológico or ICMS-E, redistribute part of the state-level value-added tax revenues on the basis of ecological indicators to local governments. We analyze whether the introduction of this economic instrument in a state offers incentives to municipal responses in terms of further protected area (PA) designation. We provide a microeconomic model for the functioning of ICMS-E and test the derived hypothesis empirically. Employing an econometric analysis on panel data for two decades we estimate the correlation of the introduction of ICMS-E in Brazilian states with PA coverage. We find that the introduction of ICMS-E correlates with a higher average PA share. While the introduction of ICMS-E schemes may be a compensation for a high share of federal and state PA, we also find an incentive effect for municipalities to designate additional PA. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment