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governance

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.

A community survival guide to turbulent times

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IN PLANNING has published a new book by Kristof Van Assche et al, a community survival guide to turbulent times. The book presents a wide range of planning strategies communities can use to deal with uncertain futures and to adapt to ever changing boom and bust cycles in the local economy. The book offers an interesting read for planning and governance scholars, students, and professionals, as well as all those who are in some way involved in community development and planning. It describes the struggles that many communities in western Canada are going to, the challenges they face, and many enlightening examples. Furthermore it offers theoretical reflections on the diversity of strategies and practices, as well as practical recommendation on how to develop context-sensitive strategies.

And the best thing: the e-book is freely available.

 

A typology of material events

Many of contemporary issues, like urban development, climate change, biodiversity conservation, or food security, demand for interdisciplinary approaches that bring together scientist with different ideas about reality and the nature of knowledge. Whereas some focus on the material reality of our world, other focus on the social structures through which humans construct an understanding of that world. This paper presents a framework for going beyond the traditional dichotomy between discourse and materiality. Drawing on the work of one of the most influential sociologists, Niklas Luhmann, it explores the different ways in which materiality can relate to discursive dynamics. Five different events are distinguished: silent, whispering, vigorous, fading and deadly events. These events constitute the spectrum in which changes in the environment affect communication and action. This typology helps to better understand the diversity of societal responses to an ever changing environment.

Duineveld, M., Van Assche, K., & Beunen, R. (2017). Re-conceptualising political landscapes after the material turn: a typology of material events. Landscape Research, 1-10. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01426397.2017.1290791

Spatial planning in cross-border regions: A systems-theoretical perspective

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Most scholarship in spatial planning presupposes an established institutional setting, where a specific legal framework is in place, one is accustomed to certain procedures and routines, and planning has a certain (national) history. In cross-border regions, however, this becomes problematic as different institutional settings clash. Combining systems and organizational theory, this article constructs a theoretical perspective on planning, explicitly conceptualizing differences, that is, boundaries, in institutional settings. This sheds new light on the prospects and realities of spatial planning across national borders. National borders double the complexity of spatial planning, and organizations working in cross-border spatial planning need to take this into account by acknowledging their own and others’ organizational boundaries as well.

Jacobs, J. (2016) Spatial planning in cross-border regions: A systems-theoretical perspective. Planning Theory 15(1): 68-90.

 

 

Place as layered and segmentary commodity

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All over the world planners are developing novel approaches to manage urban growth in more sustainable ways, in ways more sensitive to spatial quality and to social, economic and ecological contexts. There is a widely shared understanding that the success of such approaches depends on the possibilities to integrate an almost overwhelming variety of objectives. Smart growth has emerged in recent decades as a comprehensive version of planning which can likely achieve this goal of complex coordination. Smart growth is a comprehensive version of spatial planning thatcan guide sustainable development and tackle negative social and environmental consequences of urbanization. In our paper Place as layered and segmentary commodity. Place branding, smart growth and the creation of product and value we explore how an integration of spatial planning and place branding strategies can further the concept of smart growth and improve its chance at implementation. A review of the parallel evolutions of place branding and smart growth shows their shared interest in comprehensive visions, sensitivity for narratives of place and self, and the proposed embedding in participatory governance. The concept of layered and segmentary commodification offers a novel perspective on value creation in smart growth and helps to develop new forms of smart growth, that combine and integrate elements of spatial planning and place branding.

You can download the paper from the website of International Planning Studies or from researchgate 

Water Governance in Central Asia

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We develop a social systems theory perspective on Central Asian post-Socialist transition, placing particular emphasis on the coordination problems in transboundary water governance. The extensive Soviet water-energy infrastructure around the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers required coordination, but this could no longer be politically secured after the 1991 Soviet disintegration. According to the social systems theory of Niklas Luhmann, coordination problems are generally endemic to any modern regime of functional differentiation. We show that each Central Asia state had to tackle substantial internal adaptation problems, which were rendered even more formidable by the need for transboundary coordination. We further demonstrate how the new riparian states offer a complex picture of several forms of differentiation, where functional differentiation is in some ways reinforced by the new national boundaries and the collapse of Soviet planning. We identify possible sources of flexibility, opening up avenues toward adaptation and enhanced coordination across boundaries.

Nodir Djanibekov, Kristof Van Assche & Vladislav Valentinov (2015) Water Governance in Central Asia: A Luhmannian Perspective. Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal. Online first: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2015.1086460

New book: Theory and applications

EGTIIThis new book in the series on Evolutionary Governance Theory (EGT) presents empirical studies and theoretical reflections on the most important concepts and their interrelations. Through this book we learn how communities understand themselves and their environment. Authors from different disciplines develop the EGT framework further and apply it to a wide range of governance issues covering topics such as welfare state governance, networks of power, climate change, water governance, natural resource management etc. The contributors reflect on the possibilities and limitations of steering, intervention, management and development in a world continuously in flux.

The book bridges the gap between more fundamental and philosophical accounts of the social sciences and applied studies, offering theoretical advancement as well as practical recommendations.

http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-319-12274-8

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