The political ecology of spatial development initiatives, Indonesia

Langston, James Douglas (2019) The political ecology of spatial development initiatives, Indonesia. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Indonesia is a socially and environmentally diverse nation where people make difficult decisions affecting the sustainability and inclusivity of their development. It contains the world's fourth largest and still rapidly growing population, who are vigorously pursuing increased economic well-being. Indonesia also contains, arguably, the worlds' most biodiverse ecosystems. Institutional complexity is high. Rapidly changing legislation and shifting hierarchies of control have beset the stewardship of natural, economic, and social assets with difficulties. Indonesia's development threats and opportunities, alongside its rich but degrading natural resources present governance challenges, the lessons of which have relevance and implications far beyond Indonesia's borders.

My thesis explores the lessons learned from landscapes in Indonesia, where the difficult decisions over resource-use allocations unfold. Using place-based, sustainability science, and a transdisciplinary research approach, I diagnose the social, economic, environmental, and political change underway in landscapes on four islands. These islands span Indonesia's comparatively less developed east, to the more developed west. Landscapes are the unit of analysis due to evidence that they are the most manageable scale to understand and 'enter' systems. The landscapes examined in thesis are recipients of large investments into extractive industries, agriculture, and other spatial development initiatives. I examine these drivers of change in different contexts, including estate crops, gold-mines, infrastructure, and decentralized governance.

The thesis addresses three overarching questions, (1) what are leverage points in landscapes for interventions that lead to long-term sustainable development outcomes? (2) What are the impacts of spatial development initiatives on livelihoods and the environment within a landscape? (3) How might research better support co-learning to improve processes and outcomes of landscape change. I collaboratively frame the issues and potential solutions with local people affecting and affected by decisions over resource use and allocation. I experiment with a range of participatory qualitative and quantitative methods including Q Methodology, visualization techniques, theory of change, interviews, and actor network analysis.

My results show that governance is the main constraint to sustainable and inclusive development in landscapes. Narratives that shape governance in landscapes emerge from politically diverse vantage points. Science to enhance sustainability and inclusivity must understand these political vantage points and begin to co-generate narratives with the full range of decision-makers in landscapes. Landscape-level network analysis can help identify where knowledge co-generation and integration is opportune and can be more influential. Clear and agreed theories of change should emphasize the need to shift institutional arrangements so that they are more conducive to inclusive and sustainable development.

The key lesson from this research is that local governance arrangements evolve to meet the expectations of people in their own contexts, which may be counter-intuitive to external researchers who have preconceptions of what constitutes good, sustainable, and inclusive development. But Indonesia's governance systems face the same adaptation challenges observed globally, where economic and infrastructural developments outpace social adaption rates. Organizations that wish to improve decision-making processes toward enhanced sustainability and inclusivity should seek opportunities to more strategically leverage change. Efforts should be made to bridge gaps between traditional and State management systems. This requires diagnosing the entire social-political-economic-ecological system. To assist, scientists and academia must put more emphasis on the cogeneration and integration of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries, into the pre-existing actor-networks that shape landscapes. Lessons from Indonesia contribute insights for broader global sustainable development solutions.

Item ID: 60807
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: agricultural market frontiers, community-based forestry, conservation and development, embedded science, gold mining, governance, Indonesia, integrated natural resource management, landscape approach, large scale mining, livelihoods, polycentric landscape governance, small scale mining, smallholder agriculture, theory of change, trade-offs
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Copyright Information: Copyright © 2019 James Douglas Langston.
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Thesis by publication: there are five publications arising from this thesis (published versions included in thesis file). The publications are:

Chapter 1: Langston, James Douglas, McIntyre, Rowan, Falconer, Keith, Sunderland, Terry, van Noordwijk, Meine, and Boedhihartono, Agni Klintuni (2019) Discourses mapped by Q-method show governance constraints motivate landscape approaches in Indonesia. PLoS One, 14 (1).

Chapter 2: Langston, James Douglas, Lubis, Muhammad I., Sayer, Jeffrey A., Margules, Chris, Boedhihartono, Agni Klintuni, and Dirks, Paul H.G.M. (2015) Comparative development benefits from small and large scale mines in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. The Extractive Industries and Society, 2 (3). pp. 434-444.

Chapter 3: Langston, James D., Riggs, Rebecca A., Sururi, Yazid, Sunderland, Terry, and Munawir, Muhammad (2017) Estate crops more attractive than community forests in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Land, 6 (1). 12.

Chapter 4: Riggs, Rebecca A., Langston, James D., Margules, Chris, Boedhihartono, Agni Klintuni, Lim, Han She, Sari, Dwi Amalia, Sururi, Yazid, and Sayer, Jeffrey (2018) Governance challenges in an Eastern Indonesian forest landscape. Sustainability, 10 (1). 169.

Chapter 6: Langston, James Douglas, Riggs, Rebecca Anne, Kastanya, Agustinus, Sayer, Jeffrey, Margules, Chris, and Boedhihartono, Agni Klintuni (2019) Science embedded in local forest landscape management improves benefit flows to society. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 2 (3).

Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2019 01:56
FoR Codes: 14 ECONOMICS > 1402 Applied Economics > 140209 Industry Economics and Industrial Organisation @ 33%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 34%
SEO Codes: 84 MINERAL RESOURCES (excl. Energy Resources) > 8402 Primary Mining and Extraction Processes of Mineral Resources > 840205 Mining and Extraction of Precious (Noble) Metal Ores @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960705 Rural Land Policy @ 34%
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