Equity in environmental governance: perceived fairness of distributional justice principles in marine co-management

Gurney, Georgina G., Mangubhai, Sangeeta, Fox, Margaret, Kim, Milena Kiatkoski, and Agrawal, Arun (2021) Equity in environmental governance: perceived fairness of distributional justice principles in marine co-management. Environmental Science & Policy, 124. pp. 23-32.

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Abstract

Concerns with distributional justice invariably arise in environmental governance, especially in the conservation and management of common-pool resources. These initiatives generate an array of costs and benefits that are typically heterogeneously distributed. Distribution of these impacts in a way that is considered fair by local stakeholders is not only a moral imperative, but instrumental to achieving social and ecological success given perceived unfairness fosters conflict and undermines cooperation. However, understandings of local stakeholders’ conceptions of distributional fairness are rare because research often assesses distributional outcomes based on tacit assumptions about what constitutes fairness (e.g. equality). We examine what local stakeholders consider distributional fairness with respect to monetary benefits arising from a collective payment for ecosystem services scheme in a co-managed marine protected area in Fiji. In six villages associated with the co-managed marine protected area, we elicited individuals’ fairness judgements of five distributional justice principles: equality, need, and three forms of proportionality based on customary rights, fisheries opportunity-costs, and involvement in co-management. We examine how fairness judgements are associated with socio-demographic characteristics indicative of key identities, thereby building on socially-aggregated approaches typical of the nascent literature on perceived fairness. We find the rights-based principle was considered the ‘most fair’ and the opportunity-costs principle the ‘least fair’. Our findings challenge prevailing understandings of distributional justice in conservation and commons management, which favour the principles of equality or opportunity-cost. We also find that education was significantly positively related to fairness judgements of all principles, whilst wealth was significantly related to the equality and the opportunity-based principles. These results provide insights into how fairness judgements could be influenced by key elements of current social change in the Global South (e.g. increasing formal education, market engagement and wealth accumulation). Overall, our results suggest that fair environmental governance requires explicit identification of distributional fairness conceptions of those most affected by such initiatives, especially in a context of increasing globalisation of conservation knowledge and practice.

Item ID: 70097
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6416
Keywords: conservation, distributional fairness, environmental justice, marine protected area, payments for ecosystem services, social equity
Copyright Information: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DE210101918
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2022 22:48
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4404 Development studies > 440405 Poverty, inclusivity and wellbeing @ 40%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 20%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441012 Sociology of inequalities @ 40%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1902 Environmental policy, legislation and standards > 190205 Environmental protection frameworks (incl. economic incentives) @ 60%
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1902 Environmental policy, legislation and standards > 190208 Rights to environmental and natural resources (excl. water allocation) @ 40%
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