International Institute for Innovation in Governance



Governance and the coastal condition: Towards new modes of observation, adaptation and integration

The conceptual framework of evolutionary governance theory (EGT) is deployed and extended to rethink the idea of coastal governance and the possibilities of a coastal governance better adapted to challenges of climate change and intensified use of both land and sea. ‘The coastal condition’ is analyzed as a situation where particular modes of observation and coordination were possible and necessary, and those observations (and derived calculations of risk and opportunity) are valuable for the governance of both land and an argument is constructed for a separate arena for coastal governance, without erasing the internal logic of pre-existing governance for land and sea. This entails that coastal governance is destined to be a place of (productive) conflict, as much as of policy integration. Policy integration will be more difficult and more important in coastal governance, as this is an arena where the effects of many land based activities and activities at sea become visible and entangled. Policy integration in coastal governance does however require deep knowledge of the governance path and existing forms of integration there (e.g. in planning), and it exists in an uneasy tension with the requirements of adaptive governance. This tension further contributes to the complexity and complex-prone character of coastal governance. Neither complexity nor conflict can be avoided, and coastal governance as an image of balanced decision- making is (positively) presented as a productive fiction.

Van Assche, K., Hornidge, A. K., Schlüter, A., & Vaidianu, N. (2019). Governance and the coastal condition: Towards new modes of observation, adaptation and integrationMarine Policy.



Evolutionary Governance Theory enters the Canon of Planning Theory

‘From Habermas and Lefebvre to Rancière and Mouffe this handbook captures the zeitgeist of planning theory with contributions from some of the most innovative thinkers in their fields.’ Professor Phil Allmendinger

In a changing and often unpredictable globalized world, planning theory is core to understanding how planning and its practices both function and evolve. As illustrated in The Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory, planning and its many roles have changed profoundly over the recent decades; so have the theories, both critical and explanatory, about its practices, values and knowledges. The handbook presents key contemporary themes in planning theory through the views of some of the most innovative thinkers in planning.

The Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory includes a chapter on Evolutionary Governance Theory. The chapter analyses the presence, the origins and the potential of co- evolutionary perspectives in planning theory. It pays particular attention to Evolutionary Governance Theory, as a comprehensive perspective on co- evolution in spatial planning and governance. The co- evolutionary approach to planning presents a middle ground between (social) engineering approaches on the one hand and theories completely disqualifying planning and steering on the other. Both ends of the spectrum have often been criticized for respectively overestimating the steering possibilities of governments and the organizing capacities of markets. Planning theory embedded in governance theory can help to analyse and understand a particular governance context, to delineate the possibilities and limits of planning in that context, and to determine which planning efforts are most likely to have a positive impact. In a co-evolutionary perspective, context as such, and governance context in particular, are never fixed, never stable: all elements and structures are continuously influencing each other.

The co-evolutionary perspective as developed in EGT opens up planning theory for a series of relevant concepts from different disciplines, relevant for the analysis of current and potential forms of planning in a community, while conversely giving theories and practices of planning a firm place within governance. The chapter shows how a co-evolutionary perspective is a very useful lens for both analysis and change, for the development of new planning perspectives or for the deliberate circumvention of a current planning system.

Natural capital and the political economy of wetland governance in Alberta

The legitimacy of wetland decisions depends on how science and values are integrated and reflected in wetland management decisions. Natural capital and ecosystem services (ES) have become integral to how we think about ecosystem management however there is no consensus on how these concepts should be applied in management. Through the example of Alberta’s wetland policy, we show how policies designed to mainstream natural capital and ES in decision-making are aligned with liberal governance arrangements that emerged in the nineteenth century. There is a governance gap between individual wetland decisions and collective ecological outcomes. The Alberta wetland policy highlights three challenges to embracing the natural capital metaphor in a liberal government context: lack of consensus on policy objectives; case by case enforcement of policy leading to continued wetland drainage; and minimal consequences for non-compliance. The combination of norms about what is fair in terms of government intervention in land use decisions and scientific uncertainty about wetland ecosystem function makes it difficult to achieve consensus on limits to wetland loss contributing to continued loss of wetland ecological function. The discussion highlights the necessity of renewed political discourse about freedom, power, and justice in relation to collective economic and ecological security.

Weber, M., Krogman, M., Foote, L. & Rooney, R. (2017) Natural capital and the political economy of wetland governance in Alberta. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning. Online first.

Small-scale fisheries within maritime spatial planning

The coasts hold great potential for ‘Blue Growth’, and major industrial and infrastructural developments are already happening there. Such growth, however, comes with risks to marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Competition for space and resources intensifies, turning the coast into an area of social and political conflict, including contestation about knowledge. This paper argues that there is a need for institutional innovation that allows knowledge integration and conflict resolution to be more interactive and synergistic. The paper critically analyses discourses and practices of interactive governance and co-management while visiting Foucault’s power/knowledge concept for investigating the normativity and effects of participation discourses and practices. This is followed by a discussion of multiple governance paths and their different combinations of resources and forms of expert and local social and ecological knowledge so as to see how they can help resolve conflicts, and enhance governability within maritime spatial planning (MSP) in a way that also serves to create a level playing field for all stakeholders. A particular focus will be on the small-scale fisheries sector, which is the lest powerful stakeholder and the most vulnerable to external pressures. Will MSP help to empower or further marginalize small-scale fishers and fisheries communities?

Jentoft, S. (2017). Small-scale fisheries within maritime spatial planning: knowledge integration and power. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 1-13.

Partnerships for development in the extractive sector

Partnerships for Development (PfD) is the antidote that extractive industries have used over the last decade to counteract the proliferation of conflicts with local communities. Normatively, the concept of ‘partnership’ positions companies as actors on an equal footing with others in their attempts to collaborate to achieve development outcomes. This article analyses how the PfD strategy has been crafted and implemented in the extractive sector and assess its potential to contribute significantly to local development. Using the Foucauldian framework on power/knowledge and genealogy, we explain how, in a relatively short time, the interaction between context, preexisting discourses, and actors’ interests shaped the PfD discourse and made it famous. The second part of the paper goes beyond the normative conceptualisation and analyses the implementation of PfD through the case studies of the Antamina copper mine in Peru and the Pacific Rubiales oil operation in Colombia. The companies use the PfD discourse to advance their interest vis-à-vis the different stakeholders, minimising the risk of conflicts and cultivating their reputation. These companies resort to the fragmentation of bargaining spaces and rely on the legitimacy provided by paid experts. The result is that PfD has limited capacity to promote local sustainable development.

This paper is part of a forthcoming special issue in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning on power/knowledge in natural resource management

Arellano-Yanguas J. & del Pilar Bernal-Gómez, M. (2017) Partnerships for development in the extractive sector: protecting subterranean interests? Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning.

Evolutionary theory of social enterprise

Social Entrepreneurship has developed in different ways across Europe. These studies present a novel perspective on social entrepreneurship which explains these differences, taking into account the history and trends of Social Entrepreneurship, the different operational and organisational forms, the role of communities, cultures and tradition, the role of social innovation, the role of the dialogue between the State and Citizens on Social Inclusion and how social entrepreneurship and institutions co-evolved during time.

Download the reports from the Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship project here:



Discourses on sustainable forest management

This study analyzed discourses influencing the meaning of Sustainable Forest Management in Catalonia (Spain) and the effects of the European Natura 2000 policy on these discourses. It focused on the Montseny area and on the Administration and Practitioner stakeholder groups. Based on literature review and interviews, we found six discourses influencing the meanings of Sustainable Forest Management. Two of these discourses underwent changes due to the effects of Natura 2000 implementation while the others did not, showing the substantial role played by local elements and actors in shaping the discursive framework of Sustainable Forest Management. Based on empirical findings, the study provided conclusions valid at European level: (1) implementing Natura 2000 does not mean revolutionizing local nature conservation systems, but rather adapting them to European requirements; (2) in order to increase local policy impact, the implementation of European environmental policies needs to be backed up by economic compensation of local actors.

Ferranti, F., Vericat, P. de Koning, J. (2017) Discourses on sustainable forest management and effects of Natura 2000: a case study of Catalonia, NE Spain. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.


Performing and orchestrating governance learning for systemic transformation in practice for climate change adaptation

Barriers to climate change adaptation might not lie so much in ‘gaps’ in scientific or technical understandings but rather in the complexities of social, institutional and cultural transitions in climate change governance. Effective responses to complex environmental issues seem to require ‘co-learning for systemic governance transformations’. However, this process remains poorly understood. This article analyses the performance and orchestration of governance learning for systemic transformation in practice, drawing on examples from the international climate change adaptation and water governance (CADWAGO) project. We show that in these examples the interplay of ‘separating’ and ‘connecting’ is central to transforming governance in the European water management landscape. The article concludes that an orientation to boundary work and co-production of knowledge contributes to scientific narratives that can inspire meaningful connective action and move complex socioecological systems into a more sustainable trajectory.

van Bommel, S., Blackmore, C., Foster, N., & de Vries, J. (2016). Performing and orchestrating governance learning for systemic transformation in practice for climate change adaptation. Outlook on Agriculture, 45(4), 231-237.

Assessing participatory and multi-level characteristics of biodiversity and landscape protection legislation: the case of Poland

This paper presents a comprehensive framework for analysing formal rules regulating the involvement of various actors in protected areas decision-making over time and apply it to Poland. Based on the analysis of legal acts and policy documents, it suggests that since the democratic transition started in 1989, the governance of Polish protected areas has been increasingly multi-level and participatory. However, different designations indicate different levels of involvement by non-state actors, with Natura 2000 standing out from the traditional protected areas. Regarding governance issues, establishing and taking management decisions were characterised by the greatest changes in actors’ involvement. While participation of non-public actors is still limited mostly to information and consultation, the involvement of non-state public actors of various levels increased significantly. The paper highlights the importance of a systematic analysis of legal rules as a starting point for empirical investigation of the governance of protected areas.

Niedziałkowski, K., Pietrzyk-Kaszyńska, A., Pietruczuk, M., & Grodzińska-Jurczak, M. (2015). Assessing participatory and multi-level characteristics of biodiversity and landscape protection legislation: the case of Poland. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 1-21.



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