Polycentricity in practice: Marine governance transitions in Southeast Asia

Fortnam, M. and Evans, L. and Ayu, A. M. Amira Mas and Bastian, L. and Chaigneau, T. and Creencia, L. and Goh, H. C. and Gonzales, B. and Madarcos, K. and Maharja, C. and Iqbal, M. Mohd and Le, T. Ngoc and Praptiwi, R. A. and Sugardjito, J. and Van Nguyen, Q. and Syazana, W. M. A. Wan Nur (2022) Polycentricity in practice: Marine governance transitions in Southeast Asia. Environmental Science & Policy, 137. pp. 87-98. ISSN 1462-9011, DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2022.08.010.

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Environmental governance systems are expanding in size and complexity as they become more integrated and ecosystem-based. In doing so, governance transitions often involve more actors and knowingly or unknowingly alter the autonomy of actors to make decisions, and thereby the ability of the governance system to self-organise. In other words, these governance systems are becoming increasingly polycentric, moving towards an institutional structure that is reported to confer a number of benefits to social-ecological systems. This article adds to a growing body of evidence on polycentric environmental governance in practice. It adds nuance to the normative and apolitical portrayals of governance transitions in general, and transitions towards more polycentric forms of governance in particular. We analyse the relations amongst actors and historical development of four large-scale marine governance systems in Southeast Asia to understand how context, particularly power, shapes the emergence and evolution of polycentric marine governance in practice. Our data indicate that transitions towards increased polycentricity do increase diversity and autonomy of decision-making centres, which can enable more innovation or flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. However, these innovations do not always underpin sustainability and equity. Coordination mechanisms are critical for channelling the power dynamics that emerge among diverse actors towards sustainability. Yet, in these emergent, ad hoc polycentric governance arrangements such mechanisms remained nascent, ineffective, or inactive. The transaction costs involved in coordinating a semi-autonomous polycentric system are seemingly difficult to overcome in low- to middle-income contexts and need investment in resources and accountability mechanisms.

Item Type: Article
Funders: Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), Blue Communities Programme, GCRF, United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) [NE/P021107/1] [IF052-2017], Bappelitbagda Selayar, Municipal Local Government Units of Taytay and Aborlan, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development
Uncontrolled Keywords: Environmental governance; Polycentric governance; Power; Southeast Asia
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
T Technology > TH Building construction
Divisions: Faculty of the Built Environment
Depositing User: Ms. Juhaida Abd Rahim
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2023 03:14
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2023 03:14
URI: http://eprints.um.edu.my/id/eprint/41121

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