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Adaptive governance of the Baltic Sea: lessons from elsewhere
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre, Baltic Nest Institute. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2015 (English)In: International Journal of the Commons, ISSN 1875-0281, Vol. 9, no 1, 440-665 p., URN:NBN:NL:UI:10-1-116937Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Governance of marine resources is increasingly characterized by integrated, cross sectoral and ecosystem based approaches. Such approaches require that existing governing bodies have an ability to adapt to ecosystem dynamics, while also providing transparent and legitimate outcomes. Here, we investigate how the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM), the international governing body for the Baltic Sea, could improve its prospects for working with the ecosystem approach, drawing from the literature on adaptive governance. We construct an ideal type of adaptive governance to which we compare the way in which HELCOM is operating and relate these dynamics to two other international marine environment governance organizations, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). We conclude that HELCOM deviates from an ideal type of adaptive governance in several ways but also that the other two case studies provide empirical support for potential ways in which HELCOM could improve its adaptive capacity. Key aspects where HELCOM could improve include increasing stakeholder participation – both in information sharing and decision making. Further, HELCOM need to develop evaluation mechanisms, secure compliance to improve adaptive capacity and organizational effectiveness, which entails the development of structures for conflict resolution. Finally, HELCOM need to increase communication and harmonization between different levels of authority.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Utrecht: Uopen Journals , 2015. Vol. 9, no 1, 440-665 p., URN:NBN:NL:UI:10-1-116937
Keyword [en]
adaptive governance; ecosystem approach; HELCOM
National Category
Globalization Studies Public Administration Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108505OAI: diva2:759259
Available from: 2014-10-29 Created: 2014-10-29 Last updated: 2015-08-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Three faces of HELCOM - institution, organization, policy producer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Three faces of HELCOM - institution, organization, policy producer
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Despite early initiatives during the 1960s and 1970s, and continuing efforts ever since, the Baltic Sea remains in poor condition. The Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) is the governing body tasked with protecting the marine environment from further deterioration through intergovernmental collaboration between the Baltic Sea states and the EU. In 2007, HELCOM launched a new tool – the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), of which the so-called ecosystem approach is a cornerstone. However, how and why the BSAP reform was launched, and also what consequences such management reforms can have for transboundary resource management, is unknown.

By using institutional theory, organizational theory and the advocacy coalition framework, in combination with content analysis of official documents derived from HELCOM, this thesis argues that the BSAP is the end result of a gradual process of change within institutional structures and actor beliefs. This thesis also shows that HELCOM's capacity to detect, process, and react in response to changes in its regulatory objective has not changed as a consequence of the BSAP. In contrast to earlier research, it seems HELCOM responds better to slow and opaque changes than to quick and visible ones. Finally, by comparing HELCOM with two other similar cases, the thesis shows that HELCOM's adaptive capacity could be improved in line with the recommendations of the ecosystem approach.

This thesis illustrates the importance of studying the emergence of new tools for governing transboundary resources from several theoretical perspectives. The thesis uses an innovative quantitative content analysis and concludes that new methods might be required to enable such studies. The different perspectives used here give various explanations concerning the causes and consequences of the BSAP. In a future Baltic Sea, where environmental changes are likely to be abrupt, a multitude of understandings regarding the governance of the Baltic Sea will be crucial.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, 2014
Stockholm studies in politics, ISSN 0346-6620 ; 159
Helsinki Commission, institutional change, policy change, organizational response, ecosystem approach, Baltic Sea, BSAP, content analysis
National Category
Public Administration Studies
Research subject
Political Science
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108455 (URN)978-91-7649-033-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-12-05, hörsal 5, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: In press.

Available from: 2014-11-13 Created: 2014-10-27 Last updated: 2014-11-21Bibliographically approved

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Valman, MatildaÖsterblom, HenrikOlsson, Per
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Baltic Nest InstituteDepartment of Political ScienceStockholm Resilience Centre
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