Political dynamics and governance of World Heritage ecosystems

Morrison, T. H., Adger, W. N., Brown, K., Hettiarachchi, M., Huchery, C., Lemos, M. C., and Hughes, T. P. (2020) Political dynamics and governance of World Heritage ecosystems. Nature Sustainability.

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Abstract

Political dynamics across scales are often overlooked in the design, implementation and evaluation of environmental governance. We provide new evidence to explain how interactions between international organizations and national governments shape environmental governance and outcomes for 238 World Heritage ecosystems, on the basis of a new intervention–response– outcome typology. We analyse interactions between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and 102 national governments responsible for implementing ecosystem protection under the World Heritage Convention between 1972 and 2019. We combine data on the reporting, deliberation and certification of individual ecosystem-level threats, with data on national governance quality, economic complexity and key stakeholder perspectives. We find that the extent of threatened ecosystems is seriously underestimated and that efforts to formally certify threatened ecosystems are often resisted by national governments. A range of responses to international intervention, including both productive and counterproductive responses, generates material impacts at the ecosystem level. Counterproductive responses occur in nations dependent on limited high-value natural resource industries, irrespective of overall level of economic development. We identify new political approaches to improve environmental governance, including how to overcome the problem of regulatory capture. Our findings inform how we can better anticipate and account for political dynamics in environmental governance.

Item ID: 63828
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2398-9629
Keywords: Conservation biology, geography
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2020.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.25903/5f519dc27a7f7
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2020 06:46
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160605 Environmental Politics @ 30%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160607 International Relations @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 30%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9403 International Relations > 940304 International Political Economy (excl. International Trade) @ 60%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950305 Conserving Natural Heritage @ 40%
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