Analysis and discussion of 28 recent marine protected area governance (MPAG) case studies: Challenges of decentralisation in the shadow of hierarchy
This paper analyses the governance of MPAs through 28 case studies in 17 countries. Limitations of the polycentric governance concept are discussed, particularly its faith in linkages as a means of resolving conflicts and its assumption that the state should only take a passive role. The concept of coevolutionary governance is described and justified, noting that this essentially builds on polycentrism’s systematic case study analysis approach, but evolves it to move beyond its limitations. Coevolutionary governance takes a synecology perspective to analyse how incentives coevolve through their functional integration, as well as how social and ecological systems can coevolve through the feedback mechanisms of human impacts and ecological services. Drawing on the wider concept of multi-level governance, coevolutionary governance is considered to provide for synergies between governance approaches, proposing that coordination can be achieved and conflicts addressed through reconfigured roles of the state providing steer through governance in ‘the shadow of hierarchy’. The MPAG empirical framework is described and the findings of its application outlined. Drawing on these findings, some key trends within and amongst five categories of incentives are explored. These illustrate that incentives synergistically interact in a way that is analogous to synecology, providing for them to be functionally integrated as a means of combining governance approaches. As such, it is argued that these findings support the validity of the coevolutionary governance concept, as well as supporting the argument that “diversity is the key to resilience, both of species in ecosystems and incentives in governance systems”.