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Governance for Sustainability: Insights from Marine Resource Use in a Tropical Setting in the Western Indian Ocean

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The last decade has seen a shift in the Natural Resource Management discourse, a shift from management to governance. Governance is held forward as a prime solution to problems associated with the sustainability of natural resources, including fisheries and other marine resources. Several countries in the Western Indian Ocean are framing governance solutions as a response to coastal/marine resource depletion and environmental degradation, but the challenges are huge and success stories remain few. This study provides an analysis of the governance situation in Chwaka Bay, Zanzibar, Tanzania. It presents the governance actors and how governance is expressed in terms of hierarchy (state), heterarchy (self-organized networks of resource users), and anarchy (market). The analysis illustrates the extreme difficulties of using governance approaches to steer human behavior to solve environmental problems and achieve sustainability. The study also provides some insights when considering the use of governance as a tool for the “designing” and/or “steering” social–ecological systems in subsistence contexts with weak formal institutions. These include the consideration of governance as an intrinsic part of complex societal processes, the idealization of governance as a template for redressing management failure and broader issues such as the importance of meta-governance.
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Keywords: Tanzania; WIO; Zanzibar; adaptive governance; common-pool resources; environmental governance; self-organization; small-scale fisheries

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Systems Ecology and Stockholm Resilience Centre,Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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